Tuesday, August 21, 2012

You Won't Run Afoul Using The OWL

By:  Kimberly Hitchens is the founder and owner of Booknook.biz, an ebook production company that has produced books for over 750 authors and imprints.

Well, I feel cheap and tawdry, because hot on the heels of Jodie's excellent Thesaurus post, here I come, talking about...the OWL.
Not just any Owl.  Not the Great Horned Owl that roosts on my chimney flue, scaring the bejesus out of me every full moon with his hooting; not the Owl that hangs out with the Pussycat; and not the Linux platform that was named Owl; not even that cute little Owl hunting imaginary prey on Youtube (see below!).

No, writers, I am speaking of your next-best-friend, the Purdue OWL, surely one of the best uses of an Internet Server known to man (and woman).

Now, if you aren't familiar with the OWL, the link is right here:  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/ .  The OWL (Online Writing Lab) has everything from General Writing sections (Academic Writing, Mechanics, Grammar, Punctuation, etc.) to the absolutely screamingly geat Grammar and Punctuation areas.

For the beginning writer, there are articles on the Writing Process, ranging from Outlining to pre-writing to reverse outlining to PROOFREADING (yes, we all know this is my own personal crusade)--even stasis theory, harkening back to Aristotle and Hermogenes.  For  College students, there's even tips on creating your Thesis Statement.  (Now...if they'd just add a section on writing a BLURB, many of my clients would be ecstatic!). 

But for the average author, the OWL's big attraction will be, I think, those  pesky grammar and punctuation issues that plague so many folks, ranging from verb tenses to pronouns to "Conquering the Comma," a perennial favorite (which features a slide show).

And on that note...I'm outta here!  Please note--the OWL is supported with tax-deductible gifts, and although all of us are stretched thin, if you can--give to the OWL.  It's worthwhile, it's worthy, and it's invaluable.  Thanks!

Thanks, folks, and I'll see you next go-round!


  1. What a great resource! Thanks for sharing, and in such a good-humored way. You always make me smile.

  2. Thanks for this great link, Hitch! And I second LJ's comment about your amusing style!

    I'm just in the process of writing a few blog posts on common punctuation problems for fiction writers, so I'll check out this resource. I mainly use the Chicago Manual of Style, which is more for general writing and fiction (as well as nonfiction), so it'll be interesting to see how MLA and APA differ, if at all, as they're mainly for academic writing and journalism. I already know a few instances where APA and CMS differ. But then fiction writers often make their own rules, right, LJ? ;-) And of course many grammar rules are slowly but constantly changing, to keep up with changes in common usage, especially in fiction writing.

  3. Wait, Jodie! There are grammar rules in fiction? When did that happen? Actually, I regard the CMS as the definitive source for my work also. However, there are plenty of times that I break those rules...almost always in dialog.

    And one last thing...when my grammar checker tells me that my sentence has a "squinting modifier," I'm tempted to tell my Mac make with an optometrist because that definitely sounds like a personal problem to me.

  4. Well, a girl's gotta Hoot her own Horn sometime. Oh, wait...anyway, Steve was tied up in the recording studio, so you were on the receiving end of my one-armed pun-slinging.

    I was praying that someone would note my excessive Adverbiage in the "...absolutely screamingly great..." sentence, (I know, I know...I have no willpower about these things), but a girl's gotta be thrilled to get even a kudo, much less kudos.

    And, yes, Jodie, I too will be interested in differences between the CMS and the APA, but in my humble opinion, having the OWL freely available and constantly updating is invaluable. I grew up with ye Olden Strunk & White, of course, and moved to CMS as a young adult, but I find myself tapping for the Owl now when I want to double-check myself on something. Could simply be keyboard laziness! ;-)

    Thanks, gang.--Hitch

  5. It's been ages since I thought about OWL. Thanks for the reminder...

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