I beg your indulgence today. I’m going to sound a little bit grouchy, so please forgive me, and assume it’s all because

(1) Johnny Depp, Amy Ryan, and the green dress didn’t win the Oscars they deserved;

(2) I spent so long caring for my sick husband (days! maybe even a week!) that my mind has irretrievably gone;

(3) I’ve secretly been a grump all along, and have finally lost my ever-so-thin veneer of niceness due to normal wear and tear;

(4) I’m suffering from severe lack of tea; or

(5) I’m currently being forced (by a secret government agency) to read a book lacking in either proper grammar or any respect for history, and am the worse for it.

My post today is, you see, on how to be sharp.


SHARP WRITERS don’t develop a pathological fear of either adverbs or the past perfect tense. And if they do, they don’t start using the simple past tense in place of the past perfect, or adjectives in place of adverbs.

SHARP WRITERS never write any of the following: alot, alright, “he drug her down the stairs” (believe it or not, I’ve seen this nonexistent verb tense several times recently, in published books!), Jane Austin, Lizzie Bennett (Austen spells it “Lizzy Bennet”), or “here here!”

SHARP WRITERS find out what words actually mean before using them. (Yes, words like literally, embark, pigtails, castle, and unique do have actual meaning.)


SHARP JANE AUSTEN MOVIE FANS may enjoy learning that the following actresses, all of whom have appeared TV or film versions of Austen’s works or of other Regency-interest works, were all just nominated for Olivier Awards (the most respected award for London Theatre):

Kelly Reilly, who played Miss Bingley in the 2005 PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, was nominated for playing Desdemona in OTHELLO at the Donmar Warehouse.

Anne-Marie Duff, who played Louisa in the TV miniseries ARISTOCRATS (1999), was nominated for playing Joan in SAINT JOAN at the National Theatre.

Penelope Wilton, who played Mrs. Gardiner in the 2005 PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, was nominated for playing Ella in JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN at the Donmar Warehouse.

Fiona Shaw, who played Mrs. Croft in the 1995 PERSUASION, was nominated for playing Winnie in HAPPY DAYS at the National Theatre.

Speaking of Austen adaptations, please join us next Tuesday (March 4) to discuss the Olivier/Garson version of PRIDE & PREJUDICE, and March 24 to discuss the Kate Beckinsale EMMA!

There you have it!

Question for the day: What would you like to add to my “Sharp Writers” list? (All answers welcome!)

Cara King, who once saw Fiona Shaw play Richard II