Veronica Roberts

July 26, 2011]----Writing is one of the most effective ways to inform and inspire and I suspect that's the reason many of us do it. Some do it better than others but I believe most of us put our best efforts forward.

Some of us are veterans, expert wordsmiths. Some of us are avid learners, improving constantly along the way.

When I joined Allvoices a little over a year ago, it was my first time publishing anything. I was green as a new pea in a pod but I think--just to toot my horn a little bit-- I have improved in style, content, quality, with a writer's passion to get it right. (no pun intended). I am still a work in progress.

In my early days I use to put my headlines in caps for I thought that would get the reader's attention quicker. Someone told me that was not the case. I listened.

I have noticed some writers attaching an exclamation point to every headline. I know you're thinking it adds urgency or importance to your work. Unfortunately, it doesn't. It's the written form of shouting or screaming and you know what can happen when someone does both. Yes, we tune out. No one likes to be shouted at--do you!!!!!!!? (see what I mean?)

It can also get a a tad confusing to know when to use commas, colons, semi-colons, inverted commas etc. When in doubt, ask someone or re-read what you've written.

I know English is not the first language of many here and I admire anyone who can vacillate between their original language and a foreign one. In fact, writing and speaking 'English'is even tricky for the English speaking folks like me. Where I grew up, our language system was based on the 'King's English' for we were once a colony of the 'Mother Land' Britain. American English has some distinctive differences.

For example the King's English taught us to capitalize all nouns where American English doesn't. Spelling is also tricky. Favor--the American way. Favour-the King's English way. Pedophile--the American way. Paedophile, the King's English way.

A famous writer once said that the semi-colon should be banished for good. We sometimes tend to overuse or misuse it so I see why he had an aversion to the little imposter. When in doubt use the good 'ole' little comma and use it where you would usually pause for breath while speaking.

I find when I re-read a couple of times, punctuation mistakes jump out at me, so re-read, edit, re-read, edit. 'Practice makes perfect' and none of us are there yet. Just keep working on improving--that's what I do.