Think Before You Write

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

Sometimes you don’t even need any help with grammar to improve the wording of your work. Sometimes you just need to stop and think about what you wrote for a moment. Consider these newspaper headlines:

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter

Think about that for a minute.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
No crap, really? Ya think?

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Now that’s taking things a bit far!

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
What a guy!

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
Good-for-nothing’ lazy so-and-so’s!

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
See if that works any better than a fair trial!

War Dims Hope for Peace
I can see where it might have that effect!

If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
Ya think?!

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Who would have thought!

Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
They may be on to something!

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
You mean there’s something stronger than duct tape?

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge!

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Weren’t they fat enough?!

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
That’s what he gets for eating those beans!

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Do they taste like chicken?

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Boy, are they tall!

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Did I read that right?

Nothing wrong with the grammar in any of these statements. Nothing wrong with the words used in them either. But the way they’re put together, they make utter nonsense.

That’s good for a funny email, but when you’re trying to write a serious book—or even a serious newspaper headline—you don’t need this sort of mis-wording. You need your writing not only to be grammatically correct but also sensible.

Since the overall purpose of this series of posts is to help us write more grammatically correct work, I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from learning and using good grammar. However, in addition to that, we need to use a little common sense, too. We need to give a second look at what we write and be sure it actually says what we intended for it to say.


imageDavid N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He has just e-pubbed his devotional, Heaven Sent: 67 Stories of Godly Thoughts and Inspiration ( His new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880 is underway. The first one is in the editing process, and he’s currently writing the second one.

Contact David at or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx


About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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30 Responses to Think Before You Write

  1. Bwahahaha! Good stuff and good point. I love your new blog look too. 😀


  2. Funny stuff. I like “Sued by 7 Foot Doctors”

    I heard a line on kids TV this afternoon. “I like these eggs, we got them from my uncle.”



  3. charitykountz says:

    Awesome post as always David! Love your formatting and the new web design. Beautiful!


  4. denisedyoung says:

    Great list, David. I especially love, “Something went wrong in jet crash, expert says.” I’m pretty sure the average layperson could’ve figured that much out.


  5. Karlene says:

    Thanks for the laugh!


  6. Too funny! Thanks for the laugh, David. 🙂


  7. Barbara Estinson says:

    You surely made some good points in this one as well as give us all a few laughs, David. I’ve seen that email before too … but still enjoy it. It brings to mind one from a junior high English class …. “The restaurant was for sale by a woman with a large seating capacity.”


  8. Wow this is funny – and I’m shaking my head that these headlines got past the editor! Great post David.


  9. Marcia says:

    These are pretty funny, David. But good point made. Reread out loud or hand it to someone else to read!


  10. Sherry Isaac says:

    And to think, headlines are written by writers, trained journalists. To be fair, they are under quicker deadlines. More justification for proof-reading, beta-readers, critique partners–luxuries journalists don’t have.


  11. Lynn says:

    Reminds me of Julie Borge’s question, “Are we going to get there later?”


  12. Thanks for today’s first laugh-out-loud moments!


  13. Did you make those up or find them somewhere? The teacher in me says if you found them, you should probably credit the site. I LOVE when I find these kinds of headlines and when I taught high school, I gave extra points to students who brought in examples of mistakes like these. We filled an entire bulletin board with them by the end of the year. Sometime it is hard for people to catch these types of agreement errors in their own writing. That’s why we need critique partners. 😉 They have those extra eyes.


  14. I wish you had a LOVE button to click for this post, David.* What a great way to start my day.

    *ERK! Is that sentence another example of a headline mishap? If yes, I blame my half-caffeinated brain-to-keyboard filter.

    Too funny! (Intentional sentence frag, btw.) 🙂


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