Fall into Good Writing Habits, 2015. Test #1 with ANSWERS!

Special Editing Test! These sentences are all from speakers who (say they) charge $10,000 or more per speech.

Yeah, right.

1) His radio show, “Engage with Andy Busch” brings top minds together for lively discussions on economics, politics and culture including Congressman Peter Roskam, CFTC Commissioner Christopher Giancarlo, and JPM’s chief economist Jim Glassman.

Where’s that comma after Busch, Andy? Plus, in my opinion, I’d want a comma after “politics” and one after “culture.”

2) His innovative, thought-provoking commentary will resonate with your audience and help them understand the forces impacting their world.

Audience is a collective noun, which means it is singular. An audience is an “it.” If referring to an audience as an it bothers you (especially twice, since this sentence should properly read “…help it understand the forces impacting its world”), use audience members instead, which would, of course, use a plural pronoun.

3) As seen on CNBC, FOXBusiness, and BNN, he is a trusted expert for millions of viewers and his views are highly sought after both in the press and by politicians.

This is a good example of a run-on sentence. Pop a period after “viewers,” ditch the conjunction, start a new sentence with “His,” and put a comma after “after.”

4) Before going into analysis, he was the top currency trader for Northern Trust and Harris Bank in Chicago.

Watch for inadvertent humor. Going “into analysis”  is generally understood as going into therapy. You’d be (much) better off saying something like “Before becoming an analyst,” so there’s no chance of a misunderstanding.

5) His Keynote speeches, group trainings and executive coaching is world famous and executives from companies like Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Second Genome, Volkswagen, IBM and Care Fusion recommend John as one of the best speakers, coach, and communications and leadership trainers working today.

What a hot mess. Where to begin? “Keynote” is not a proper noun. I’d keep “group training” singular.  This is a run-on sentence: you definitely need a comma after “famous,” or, better, use a semicolon and dump the conjunction. Put a serial comma after “IBM.” “Coach” needs to be plural.  So much for “world famous.”

6) You will learn how to Speak like a Leader and make all of your communications “TED-Worthy” and get more of what you want more of the time in this Internationally Acclaimed, highly entertaining presentation.

Another run-on (and on) sentence. Gee, I’d pop quotes around “Speak Like a Leader” (capitalize the Like,” put a comma after “Leader” and ditch the “and,” put a comma after “TED-Worthy,” and lose the capitals in “Internationally Acclaimed.” So pretentious!

7) Everyone from novices & beginners to top notch Keynote Speakers rave about what they get out of The World-Famous: Speak Like a Leader; How to Create ‘TED-Worthy’ Pitches, Presentations and Communications.

Don’t use an ampersand in prose. Don’t capitalize “Keynote Speakers”—sounds like you’re sucking up but you’re just ignorant. I don’t know what’s going on with the rest of it. What’s that business about “The World Famous”? What’s that hyphen doing there? Should that semicolon be a colon? If so, something’s amiss. (!) And, certainly, you need double quotes in this instance around “TED-Worthy.” Geez, what does the rest of the marketing material look like? “World Famous” my…eye.

8) He gives you principles which allow you to achieve ever increasing success and the ability to play and be ever more creative in the serious areas of communication and leadership.

I am evermore irritated. You’ve got three items in this list and no commas separating them. You’ve got redundancy (the “ever” bit) and then you’ve got a left-field item that’s positioned not at the end of the list but smack dab in the middle. Ugh.  Re-write.

9) He also works with C level executives at top companies to make their communications “TED-Worthy,” as well.

“C-level” needs a hyphen. Always put a hyphen between a capitalized single letter and what follows: T-shirt, A-frame, X-ray, etc.

10) He is a contributing author to “World Class Speaking in Action” an Amazon best seller.

Man, I don’t believe it for a minute! No one writes this badly. Titles of books are italicized. You need a comma after “Action.” And “bestseller” is one word.

11) In 1997 he co-founded NOBIGWORDS.com which quickly became a dot com darling.

You almost always use a comma before “which.” This is one of those cases when you needed that comma.

12) As a NFL Super Bowl Champion, he knows first hand about the hard-work and focus required to deliver consistent excellence.

Okay. This acronym needs an “an” in front of it, not an “a.” That’s because the sound “N” is pronounced “en.” Like “an MBA,” but “a Master’s of Business Administration.” And take out that hyphen in “hard work” while you’re at it.

13) This inspiring, high-energy presentation will give your audience the tools necessary to look inside and find what it takes to be their best.

Again, “audience” is singular. You can not use a plural pronoun with audience.

14) If you answer “yes” to one of the following four questions, this post is for you: Want to make more money? Want to loose weight? Want to improve your organizational culture? Want to become a better leader or teammate?

Well, sure, I want to lose weight so my clothes are loose.

15) Your team even had the right to fine you everyday you were overweight.

“Everyday” means commonplace, while “every day” means, well, every day. Watch those spaces!

16) I was an official “fat dude”.

Even fat dudes need to know that quotation marks are always placed outside periods and commas.

17) I tried a few times to battle back and loose the extra 50+ pounds of neglect.

Hey, dude, it’s lose, not loose.

18) Guys like Mike Gruttadauria and Grant Wistrom loss major weight and looked amazing.

It’s lost, not loss.

19) But its going to require your focus, dedication and commitment to consistency.

It’s it’s, not its.

20) While it would ideal if you had a trainer, gym, worked out with HIIT workouts (look it up) and/or lifted weights at night, you can do this without a gym membership, trainer of special equipment.

It’s or, not of.
Plus, you need a comma after “trainer.”

21) But the truth is, besides good fuel and maintenance; even the most high-performing vehicles need a rest sometimes.

And it’s time to give it a rest! What’s that semicolon doing there?

22) There are plenty of workouts on YouTube you can do in the comforts of your home.


23) To download to your own computer to view, simply right-click the desired link and select “save as”, and then open with your favorite PDF viewer.

Quotation marks are always placed outside periods and commas. There are no exceptions in American English.

24) The standard fee for Richard & Andrea’s 45-90 minute Go for No!® keynote is $15,000 less their Great Client Discount of $2,500. Rest assured, they will NOT by ‘PITCHING THEIR PRODUCTS’ from the stage at your event! If we may be so bold, the old axiom “You get what you pay for” is true… and it’s DOUBLE TRUE when it comes to hiring a speaker for your conference.

Oh, wow, what a bargain! People who can’t write or spell or edit for the bargain-basement price of only $12,500! Gee, sign me up! Thank God they trademarked their program title; I’d be so tempted to steal it. (Not!) Let’s see:

  1. Comma after $15,000.
  2. When you have numbers that represent a range, you use a dash, not a hyphen. Hyphens are used when the numbers are precise, exact, like telephone numbers, bank account numbers, or Social Security numbers.
  3. It’s be, not by.
  4. Why all those nasty caps?
  5. Why the single quotes?
  6. Why the exclamation point?
  7. You want a 4-point ellipsis.
  8. (My favorite!) It’s DOUBLY TRUE.

EIGHT mistakes from people who (claim to) charge $12,500 (after their Great Client Discount, of course!) for a 45- to 90-minute speech.

25) Grow revenue, increase profits and have better balance in your life * Focus on your top priorities rather than responding to others crises * Build/retain a high performing team with complimentary skills * Celebrate success and rediscover your passion

These people are idiots!

The more I look at the “Focus on your top priorities” phrase the less sure I am about what it means. Is it “other crises” or “others’ crises,” in the sense of other people’s crises? At a minimum, something is misspelled! But the big(ger) mistake is “complimentary,” which should be spelled “complementary.”

Bonus sentence!
From a book publisher’s website:
David’s Fine Arts background is a great compliment to his design experience, creating a graphic artist with a diverse technical skill set and critical eye.

Inexcusable from a book publisher. Someone’s “critical eye” should have seen that misspelling of “complement” immediately.  Immediately.

Fall into Good Writing Habits, 2015. Test #2

Terrible Titles:
Why Eight Student’s Legal Case is Pivotal to Educational Reform
Officials Appalled By What’s Insides These Crates
What Women of Color Have to Do to Breakthrough
Defense Secretary congradulates female rangers

Here’s the test! Answers soon!

1) Every Smashwords book will be listed for patrons in every library (unlike with OverDrive, where the book’s not discoverable to patrons until the library acquires it.

2) If you enjoy, as I do, monitoring the shadow cast by Amazon and how they’re using self-published books to undermine their competitors, you might enjoy my two blog posts marking the demise of Flipkart and Oyster.

3) By clicking “Pay Now”, I acknowledge that I have read and agree with the Eventbrite terms of service, privacy policy, and cookie policy.

4) Now in her 50s, she is reining as the city’s top hostess.

5) She is a self-published author, poet, and literary critic. Her and her husband live in Winthrop, Maine with their cats.

6) Your items should be delivered to our office during the week of November 16 – 20, 2015.

7) She is also working on starting an online book editing service and is updating her literary blog to include a section for reviewing other author’s works.

8) Johnny was found by an animal protection officer, emaciated and tied so tightly he could not lay down.

9) How would you describe what you write (i.e. fiction, memoir, nonfiction, poetry, etc.)?

10) As a TV reporter, I wear a used coat when I’m on the set. Somebody was complementing me the other day on my coat and I held my tongue and actually didn’t say,”…and it was only $6!”

11) As an established on-air contributor and sought after media source, she has appeared on hundreds of TV and radio shows, such as, Good Morning America, Today, CNN, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, Dr. OZ, and has been quoted in Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Money Magazine, ShopSmart, Forbes and more.

12) Wes has written several books including You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think- The 5 Money Secrets Of The Happiest Retirees, his latest book which has been a best seller in the retirement planning category.

13) He is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps Americans find easy ways to live on less without radically changing their lifestyles

14) I am so amazed many times over to find out that most business people is not taking better care of his or her body.

15) And if by “suckers” you mean people who care about the meaning of their brand (I own a VW Golf and I don’t think I will ever be able to look at it again in the same way) than yes again.

16) This is why we are, and need to be, outraged with VW, and why their act is not just about their cars – it is a betrayal of the social trust, and the trust fallout I suspect will have an impact on all German manufacturers and all car makers.

17) General questions are asked to help the individual tell their story spontaneously, always with a sensitivity and understanding of the tender nature of returning to the feelings that surround the memories of the experience.

18) My father’s parents had past early on in my life.

19) 94% of our authors’ and publishers’ sales come from our retail distribution network which includes iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, OverDrive, Oyster and Baker & Taylor Axis 360.

20) She is a go-to speaker for any business or organization wanting to bring creativity, motivation, ideas, and inspiration into the mix for their events.