A is for Apostrophe

Dear 8B, Long ago in my laborious and unremarkable teaching career, I had a lovely colleague called Helen who had a creative idea for teaching apostrophes. She invented a character called “Agatha Apostrophe”, who suffered deeply when people misused these tricky little punctuation marks. Since apostrophes are one of the nightmares of English usage, Agatha experienced…

S is also for Status Swap

Dear 8B, Status swaps are the bread and butter of fiction writers. A change of status is the standard situation from which an author or film-maker can weave a story that fills the reader or viewer with empathy, dread, hope and ultimately a sense of relief or triumph. Consider these examples: Poor, deserving, beautiful girl escapes from…

P is for Precision

Dear 8B, Some words are vague, broad and general. We use them when we speak, because they are easy to pluck from our memories and cast out into everyday conversation. After all, when you are speaking, speed is essential. Your listeners would prefer not to wait while you consult your inner thesaurus. Here are some words that…

F is for Figurative

Dear 8B, Words have multiple meanings. Sometimes a word that has a concrete meaning can  be employed in certain contexts in a symbolic or figurative way. For instance, if you write the sentence, “It was a black night”, the word “black” is fairly concrete and limited, assuming that you are describing a dark night with not much moonlight. In the sentence,…