Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Things That Go Bump in the Night


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

Halloween is a huge deal in my family. We decorate the entire house, both inside and out. My husband is a master character maker. Here are a few of his creations that adorn our front yard.

Photo © Karen Wojcik Berner.
Photo © Karen Wojcik Berner.

Photo © Karen Wojcik Berner.

Ours is the house where the kids start their trick or treating excursions. Last year, we had over 200 kids ring our doorbell, from sweet little toddlers to “let’s do this while we can” teenagers. It’s great fun. 

This week in Editing for Grammarphobes, I thought I’d take a stab at luring you to the dark side as we discuss some Halloween myths and the true stories behind them.

Do vampire bats really exist?

The San Diego Zoo has a fascinating web page about bats. Did you know that “out of nearly 1,000 bat species, only three feed on blood, and it is usually that of cattle?” The site also states that, more often than not, bats eat fruit, pollen, or nectar. Some eat small land animals, while a few others even eat fish. But none are very likely to bite you in the neck and drain your blood. Besides, look how cute they are.

What’s the difference between a crow and a raven? 

According to the website BirdNote, “ravens often travel in pairs, while crows are seen in larger groups.” Those larger groups are called murders. Fun, right? BirdNote suggests studying the bird’s tail as it flies. Is it shaped like a fan? Then it’s a crow. If it’s wedge-shaped, then it’s a raven. 

Why do we carve Jack O’Lanterns?

Jack O’Lanterns were originally meant to ward off evil spirits on All Hallow’s Eve or Samhain (pronounced sow-wen), the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest. The ancient Celts, however, did not have pumpkins. They carved root vegetable like turnips, rutabagas, and gourds instead and placed lights inside. When Irish immigrants came to America, they found pumpkins were much easier to carve, and our Jack O’Lanterns were born. 

What are lycanthropy and lupine?

Lycanthropy is the “delusion that one has become a wolf,” according to Merriam-Webster. The definition of lupine is “of or pertaining to a wolf.” That’s why Professor Lupin is named thusly in the Harry Potter books. Very clever, that J.K. Rowling.

What’s the name of the monster in Frankenstein?

Although most people call the monster “Frankenstein,” it really has no name. Frankenstein refers to Dr. Victor Frankenstein, the monster’s creator, not to the monster itself.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Other Halloween Blog Posts You Might Like

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Halloween Edition

Halloween Bash for the Books: Throwing a Literary Halloween Party

What Are You Going to be for Halloween? Literary Halloween Costumes

All Hallow's Eve with the Bibliophiles: Excerpt from Until My Soul Gets It Right

Don't Fear the Reaper: Why I Love Halloween

EFG Digest

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A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


Anonymous said…
Some bats feed on insects, and are incredibly useful because of that. And some plants wouldn't exist without the bats pollinating them. Bats are awesome. And cute.
Yes, they are! Bats get a bad rap.
Your husband's creations are awesome!
Mel Parish said…
Wow, those decorations are fabulous! No wonder you get so many trick or treaters.
I'm sure we used to carve turnips when we were kids - I'm not sure you could even buy pumpkins then. To me, a pumpkin was something out of Cinderella!
Thanks, Kelly. He started with making Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and has added creatures here and there, but the last two years he really has outdone himself.

Mel, was it difficult to carve turnips? I have a feeling it is. Bet they looked cool, though.
Mel Parish said…
I think my mother probably did most of the carving. I'm not sure 'cool' would be the right word to describe my efforts but they would definitely have been scary interpretations of a face!
That's pretty funny, Mel. Happy Halloween!

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