This is an update of a post a few years back on words that mix us writers up.
If only Hemingway had used that for his title, maybe I wouldn’t have had a character knelling to pray in a finished manuscript submitted to a prestigious contest. I got got of course, and I won’t (probably) make that mistake again, but then again, maybe I will. It’s not exactly a homonym, but it’s one of those close-enough-that-spell-check-lets-it-pass nyms.
Recently a fellow writer pointed out that I’ve been using discrete for discreet for decades, highly embarrassing. Hopefully my errors were so discreet that no one noticed.
As writers, we try really hard to not let our bares bare arms in their bear arms, and we make little checklists of these homonyms (and other nyms):
- “There, there, they’re there,” said their father
- You bear arms in bare arms
- “Nell, pleas kneel when the bell knells,” said Neal
- It’s its…
- Hear here
- The deserter ate dessert in the desert
- The cavalry never arrived at Calvary
- “Yea, I said yeah,” (or is it “Yeah, I said yea”?)
- Who’s is whose?
- In order not to err, the heir came up for air
- Please be discreet about the discrete errors I’ve made
- Do you hale from a land with lots of hail?
- A writer must be hardy to endure the hearty laughs at his or her errors
- Some writers flaunt their flouting of rules
- I’m writing a book about the soft petals of roses that I intend to soft pedal to publishers (not really)
- It is not an everyday occurrence to use everyday instead of every day
Been burned on more than a few of these. When I was writing “The Cavalryman’s Saber,” I looked up cavalry vs Calvary a dozen times , since the cavalryman was not a Calvaryman.
As for whom the bell knells, it knells for The.
Feel free to post your personal nemeses (which is indeed the plural of nemesis, I just double checked)