Click here to read fiction by Susan L. Williams. Click here to learn more about Spider Web Press. Click here to go to The Teddy Lady. Click here for lessons from Holy Mother Grammatica.



Show Don't Tell


Point of View

Tense Persons


Names, Pronouns, Descriptive Phrases



Plurals, Numbers, and Apostrophes


Common Errors


Favorite Bloopers

Contact HMG


Holy Mother Grammatica's Favorites Part 1

During her thoroughly enjoyable research into the writing habits of fanfic authors, HMG has come across numerous errors of one kind or another which have proven to be inadvertently amusing. As those of you who have read Holy Mother Grammatica's Guide to Good Writing know, HMG's absolute favorite of these is "suicidal assignation attempts". However, there are many other examples of almost equal hilarity-- obtained from fanfiction read by HMG or by friends kind enough to send excerpts to her--which HMG has decided to share with you.

With a few, duly noted exceptions, all of the examples below were taken from fanfiction published on the Internet or in e-mail. Since they are intended to provide entertainment (and perhaps a bit of education), and since HMG has no wish to embarrass anyone, no titles or authors have been identified, and original character names have been changed. From time to time, new examples will be added. Anyone wishing to contribute to HMG's Favorites may send the complete sentence in which the error appears to HMG at Please do not identify the story by title or author. HMG does not want to know. Thank you.


  1. The following were taken from stories written by two different authors:

    Blair was writing beneath him, moaning his name, his head tossing fitfully.


    Panting harshly, Blair moved helplessly against Jim, writing in passion.

    Nothing like multi tasking, eh? Were HMG Jim, she would be just the teeniest bit insulted.

    Correct: Obviously, the authors meant to type "writhing". HMG is rather glad they didn't.

  2. Smith was a wreak, jumping at every sound and clinging to the detective like Jim was the only thing that would keep him sane.

    That Smith, wreaking havoc wherever he goes....

    Correct: Slip of the finger. The author meant "wreck".

  3. Blair looked up from his tea preparations, and for the first time saw the worry that lined Jim's hansom face.

    Good carriage is so important, don't you think?

    Correct: Double typo. Naturally, the word is "handsome".

  4. From a post, not a story (HMG wishes to make clear that she knows this was an informal communication, not edited or beta read in any way, and therefore subject to errors born of speed and passion. But she still thought it was funny, and hopes the unknown author doesn't mind its inclusion here.):

    Good lighting, good camera angels.

    Good camera angels are so important. We don't want any of those nasty camera devils taking bad pictures of our boys.

    Correct: We all know she meant "angles". But "angels" conjures such a nice image.

  5. He could clearly remembering Naomi waking him up when he was very young and taking him for a long walk during the night, explaining the snow fell from the shy because the angels in heaven were molting.

    Only the shy angels?

    Correct: Of course, the author meant "sky". And "remember".

  6. Smiling to himself he want into the kitchen.

    Well, if he want into the kitchen, why don't he just go?

    Correct: One tiny letter. It's "went", we know that.

  7. "I'm haven't either."

    Hi, I'm Holy Mother Grammatica.

    Correct: Oops. "I". Those other little things just slipped in when the author wasn't looking.

  8. "Initially we were getting peaks in the delta band but I'm afraid that the damage maybe permanent."

    It's worse than that. The doctor has forgotten how to use verbs!

    Correct: Just a space, that's all. Should be "may be".

Missing Words

  1. Jim smiled realising that the simple statement true.

    It's an epidemic. Now the author has forgotten how to use verbs.

    Correct: "Jim smiled, realizing that the simple statement was true." But you knew that.

  2. When I realized you were too deeply and I couldn't wake you, I brought you here.

    Well, it's better than being too shallowly.

    Correct: "...too deeply asleep..." Even better: "When I couldn't wake you, I brought you here."

Extra Words

Oddly, it's always the same word. And a tiny word, at that.

  1. "He might wake up but he'll more than likely be a brain damaged."

    Yes, doctor? A brain damaged what?

    Correct: "He might wake up, but he'll more than likely be brain-damaged."

  2. "No,' Jim chastised himself for his negative thoughts, 'he just needs a time."

    What time does he need? 3:00? 9:30? 7:15?

    Correct: " No." Jim chastised himself for his negative thoughts. "He just needs time."

  3. He could hear the brush of cotton against a skin as the doctor had reached forwards and grasped the Captain's shoulder.

    This week, on a special episode of The Sentinel: Caveman Captain!

    Correct: He could hear the brush of cotton against skin as the doctor reached forward and grasped the Captain's shoulder.


All things will be made clear if you will only use the correct punctuation. For example:

  1. He saw that someone was tied to the tree, long, brown, curly hair.

    So, the tree was long and brown, with curly hair? The tree had long, brown, curly hair? The someone tied to the tree was long and brown, with curly hair? No?

    Correct: Okay, this one needed more than just punctuation. "He saw that someone was tied to the tree, someone with long, brown, curly hair."

  2. A deep, sorry sigh escaped the doctor terrifying Jim.

    Mean old doctor, scaring Jim like that.

    Correct: "A deep, sorry sigh escaped the doctor, terrifying Jim." Because Jim was terrified by the sigh, not by the doctor.

  3. Jim smacked his fist down on the mattress jogging its occupant.

    Is this one of those "Magic Fingers" mattresses?

    Correct: "Jim smacked his fist down on the mattress, jogging its occupant." Because Jim's fist, not the mattress, is jogging the occupant.

  4. Moving with cat like grace he flowed down the stairs towards the patio.

    Grace was always moving with cats, and Jim imitated her whenever possible.

    Correct: Moving with cat-like grace, he flowed down the stairs towards the patio.

English as a Second Language

HMG suspects that the authors of these examples are not native English speakers. She commends them for their ability to write in another language (HMG couldn't if her life depended on it).

  1. Jim had also told him that he kepted an ear open in Blair's direction "just incase."

    Correct: "Jim had also told him that he had kept an ear open in Blair's direction , 'just in case'."

  2. Moving has silently as possible, Blair found an old ski sweater to put on and crepted out of his room, holding his running shoes in his hands.

    Correct: "Moving as silently as possible, Blair found an old ski sweater to put on and crept out of his room, holding his running shoes in his hands."

Wrong Word There, Chief

  1. He decided to try a different tact.

    He's got all kinds of tact. Why, he's just full of it.

    Correct: "Tact" is knowing the right thing to say or do without causing offense. It's almost right. But what the author really wants here is "tack", a course of action or policy.

  2. "I did *not* lose it! I didn't even touch it!" Blair replied indigently.

    Poor, needy boy.

    Correct: Someone who is "indigent" is poor. The author was looking for "indignantly."

  3. I remember a whole group of us talking about how organized religion makes you accept certain tenants and reject others.

    From the Ten Commandments for Landlords. As in, "I am the Landlord thy God...."

    Correct: A "tenant" is a person who pays rent. A "tenet" is a principle, doctrine, or belief held as truth.

  4. He gazed at Blair's naked back and barely hidden buttock, the brand, raw and red peaking out from one corner of the loincloth.

    Well, if it's that swollen, it must have gotten infected.

    Blair lifted up the blinds and peaked outside.

    Blair's always at his best outdoors.

    Correct: To "peak" is to come to the highest point; what is wanted here is "peek", to glance or look quickly.

  5. "I made a down payment on a new bedroom suit for you, Chief."

    When mere pajamas just won't do....

    Correct: A "suite" is a set of matched furniture. You know what a "suit" is.

  6. Blair hadn't expected to accomplish so much in such a short time, but with concentrated effort, Wally had lead him through an intense, yet gentle regiment of cleansing his body and his essence of Smith's and Jones's influence on him.

    The guys in that regiment are tough, but they have good hearts.

    Correct: A "regiment" is a military unit. A "regimen" is a regulated system of diet and exercise for therapeutic purposes. And while HMG is here, it should be "Wally had led him."

  7. Had he condemned this man to a life of depravation?

    Correct: This could be "deprivation", as in having something taken away from one, but since HMG knows that this is from a story in which Blair is made into a sex slave, what it should actually be is "depravity", meaning corruption or wickedness.

  8. The blanket should be ruffled and the sheets creased.

    You know how Blair loves ruffles. And pink, they should be pink. With little flowers.

    Correct: HMG is not entirely sure what the author was trying to say here. "Ruffled" can mean wrinkled, so is perhaps correct in this instance, if the author meant that Blair likes a messy bed, but the context in which it was used did not give HMG that impression.

  9. "Gag him," John suggested helpfully, tossing an old rag of some sort at Paul, who was due to lunge at Blair.

    In today's stress-filled world, even the bad guys are on tight schedules. Don't be late, now, you've got another kidnapping in fifteen minutes.

    Correct: "Due" means scheduled or expected at a certain time. "About" would work nicely here.

  10. The younger man lay wedged between himself and the sofa back, with his head resting on Jim's chest.

    This is what you call being beside yourself.

    Correct: "...wedged between him and the sofa back..." However, the author is attempting to differentiate between "him" and "his", which refer to two different people. Since we know who those two people are, HMG thinks this would work: "Blair lay wedged between him and the sofa back, the younger man's head resting on Jim's chest."

  11. I think she was starting to change her mind about corporeal punishment for a while there.

    As opposed to out-of-body punishment.

    Correct: "Corporeal" refers to being bodily rather than spiritual. Close, but not quite right. "Corporal punishment" is punishment inflicted directly on the body, such as flogging.

  12. The very idea struck a cord deep within.

    Jim's been eating string again.

    Correct: The expression is "struck a chord", comparing an emotion being played upon to the string of a musical instrument such as a harp.

  13. Figuring that turnabout was fair play, Jim decided that he wanted to see his Guide in the throws of passion.

    Blair's so sexy wrapped in those afghans.

    Correct: The expression "in the throes of" means struggling with, and is what the author wanted here.

  14. This is from somebody's post (HMG's earlier disclaimer regarding posts applies here as well):

    Oopsie, there goes Jim's gun again. Maybe he should invest in a budgie cord.

    Gotta keep a tight rein on that parakeet, Jim.

    Correct: HMG has no doubt that the poster of this knew it was supposed to be "bungee", but she liked it so much she had to use it.

  15. In the past it had always been Jim who made these arguments, now the older man needed to assume the roll of the voice of reason.

    Does that roll come with butter?

    Correct: One plays a "role". Of course, it is possible to play the role of a roll, if one's play is about bread products.

  16. "You're shoes." The older man answered evenly, pointing.

    "I am not!" Blair declared indignantly. "I'm not any kind of footwear."

    Correct: "You're" is a contraction of "you are"; "your" means "belonging to you". HMG is willing to accept this as a typo, if the author asks nicely.

  17. Jim's newly exposed skin was flushed with passion, his hard nipples and powerful erection were ridged, almost as though they were reaching out to silently beg for the younger man's touch.

    And you thought only Ruffles had ridges.

    Correct: Something that is "ridged" is marked with raised lines or strips. Jim's body parts were "rigid", meaning stiff and hard.


In ascending order, according to the number of errors.

  1. He frowned has he stared at the unfamiliar coffe mug stared back at him.

    The mugs have eyes!

    Correct: He frowned as he stared at the unfamiliar coffee mug. (A mug can't stare back.)

  2. Slinging the packover his shoulder he rumaged for a vase, filled it with
    tapwater, and carried it up to.

    Up to...?

    Correct: Slinging the pack over his shoulder, he rummaged for a vase, filled it with tap water, and carried it up, too.

  3. The snow had dyed his hair white, and combined with the soft defused light from the street lights below casted an ethereal glow around him, making him look like being from aonther world.

    HMG is glad that light was defused before it went off, but how does being from another world look, exactly?

    Correct: The snow had dyed his hair white, and combined with the soft, diffuse light from the streetlights below, cast an ethereal glow around him, making him look like a being from another world.

Say What?

  1. By the time he went home, his ear was on fire a sharp stabbing pain garbing him with every beat of his heart.

    Sure, it hurts, but does it have good fashion-sense?

    Correct: HMG hasn't a clue what the author meant to say here. To "garb" means to clothe, and HMG is pretty sure that isn't what the author wanted. "Grabbing", perhaps?

  2. He was an expert in facade building, putting up shams to hide the decay beneath.

    Oh, come now. Blair may dissemble a bit, but he's not rotten.

    Correct: HMG's version is less vivid, but it makes more sense. "He was an expert in facade-building, putting up shams to hide what lay beneath."

  3. He easily recognized the dark nipples in the thick hair and how the chest hair trailed down on the middle of the young man's slender body to his waist.

    Jim got an "A" in his "Identifying Body Parts" course at the Academy.

    Correct: HMG confesses to being confused by this one. She believes the author means to say that Jim was familiar with Blair's body from previous viewings, but is uncertain as to how this should be phrased. Nonetheless, she is willing to give it a go. "It was a sight he knew well, the thick hair swirling around Blair's dark nipples, trailing down the middle of the slender body to his waist."

  4. I thought I couldn't say anything because I was afraid I wouldn't scare you off.

    Darn! You're still here.

    Correct: Ah, an easy one at last. "I was afraid I would scare you off."

  5. The thought I had was unthinkable.

    But I thought it anyway....

    Correct: Sorry, this is too silly and HMG refuses to touch it.

  6. He spared a glance at Blair, then turned heel and rushed for the front door.

    Simon, you're such a heel.

    Correct: You have a choice: "turned tail" or "turned on his heel". Pick one.

  7. Trying his best not to stir his sleeping Guide, Jim slipped the protesting appendage out from under the cascade of silky curls.

    Everyone knows that Blair should be shaken, not stirred.

    Correct: "Disturb" would fit nicely here, and sounds similar, but "move" and "wake" would also work.

  8. When they finally drew apart from each other, Jim left his hand to gently caress a roughened cheek.

    And just where did Jim leave his hand?

    Correct: Jim "lifted" his hand, surely, though truth to tell, HMG rather likes the idea of "left" as the past tense of "lift".

So ends HMG's Favorites. More will be forthcoming as HMG finds or receives them. Remember: you may contact Holy Mother Grammatica at


Part 2->