The Adventures of Pinocchio * Word Tripper

Italian writer Carlo Collodi wrote the children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio in 1883. Pinocchio was a wooden puppet who wanted to become a real boy. Despite the efforts of his trusty conscience, The Talking Cricket, he kept lying and wasn’t conscious of his actions.

Much like The Talking Cricket, let this week’s Word Tripper be your guide to the difference between conscious and conscience.


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Conscience, conscious – “Conscience,” a noun, is part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions being morally right or wrong. “Conscious,” an adjective, describes being awake and able to understand what’s happening around you (a fact or feeling).

“I was highly conscious of my inability to pocket the wad of twenty-dollar bills I’d found. I knew my conscience wouldn’t allow me to keep this money.” – Bobbie Bookhout

Envelope vs. Envelop – Word Tripper

by Barbara McNichol

The U.S. Postal Service processes 6,050 mail pieces every second, employs more than 8 million people, and is part of a $1.3 trillion mailing industry that envelops most of the known world.

This WT pair, envelop and envelope, differ by just one letter but are different parts of speech and have distinct meanings.


Overloaded mail truck used by a mail contract carrier in Cody, Wyoming
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Envelop, envelope – “Envelop,” a transitive verb, means to completely cover, enclose, or surround someone or something. “Envelope,” a noun, is a flat container that covers a letter or other object, often for mailing or delivery. It also refers to a set of performance or conventionally accepted limits.

“Let me envelop you in the warm, fuzzy envelope of my love.” – Gary Michael

“She pushed the envelope of her endurance by running an extra mile.”

Enveloped by the stacks of papers he had to grade, he felt overwhelmed.”

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Nifty New Tool: Headline Analyzer

Whenever I hear about a fun writing tool, I have to try it out. Most recently I learned about a nifty headline analyzer from SpeakerNet News (a highly recommended weekly resource for professional speakers and trainers

For a recent Word Tripper of the Week, I played with various subject lines. After starting with the too-familiar Random Acts of Kindness, the analyzer scored these various ideas and helped me choose one (noted in bold). Which one of these would you have selected? A better idea yet?

1) The Kinder Side of Life (score of 65)

2) No Act of Kindness Is Too Small (score of 60)

3) The Gift of Kindness (score of 62)

4) Cool To Be Kind (score of 66)

5) Speak the Language of Kindness (score of 53)

Feel free to experiment with your own headings at

Share your experience here.

7 Writing Mistakes Editors are Constantly Fixing

By Barbara McNichol

What can editors tell writers about improving their writing before they even begin the editing process? I shared my ideas and examples on a recent teleclass hosted by Janice Campbell of NAIWE.

You can listen to the full hour of “fixes” I presented by dialing dial 1-218-844-3182 and enter Recording ID: 90075555

In the meantime, here’s a summary:

Mistake #1.      Being so self-absorbed as a writer that you’re unaware of the reader’s experience. The fix? Know your core message and write to that message, leaving out the experience of writing.

Mistake #2.      Addressing readers as readers rather than a single key person whose interest you want to capture with your message. The fix? Keep a single interested person in your target audience top of mind as you write.

Mistake #3.      Skimming the surface, not going deep enough. The fix? When describing an experience, explain what you felt, what the other person felt as best you can, and what exact words were spoken. Go deeper with the details.

Mistake #4.      Having no rhyme or reason to the order of the paragraphs. The fix? Make a conscious decision about the order based on logic and facilitating your readers’ comprehension.

Mistake #5.      Overusing weak verbs and throwing in extraneous phrases and wobbly words. The fix? Rewrite using active verbs; question use of every adjective and adverb; throw out wobbly words: really, very, much, some that.  “I Really Think That We Should Not Use Some Words Very Much.”

Mistake #6.      Using multiword noun phrases when one active verb will do. The fix? Whenever possible, get an active verb to do the “work.”

Mistake #7.      Writing sentences that ramble (on and on and on and on). The fix? Limit sentences to 15-21 words max but vary sentence length.

Bonus mistake: Mixing metaphors and flat-out choosing the wrong word. The fix? Use a word choice guide like Word Trippers to help you select the perfect word when it really matters.

About Barbara McNichol

Authors and experts depend on Barbara for her expert editing of nonfiction books, articles, and marketing materials. On her website, she proudly lists close to 200 books she’s edited. Her mission is to teach writers techniques that will improve their writing—and make the final editing process go smoother and faster. As part of this mission, Barbara sends out a monthly ezine called Add Power to Your Pen. When you sign up for it, you’ll receive “10 Top Techniques for Improving Your Writing.” She’s also written Word Trippers: The Ultimate Source for Using the Perfect Word When It Really Matters, available at as a Kindle and a print book.

Telling Your Own Story: Expressing the Emotional “Why” Behind Your Book

by Barbara McNichol

Many thanks to Janice Campbell for inviting me and Andrea Beaulieu as guests on Nov 17 teleclass. If you’d like a quick review, here are point-form highlights. Or feel free to contact me for editing and Andrea for presentation coaching on how to tell your story from the page and from the stage.

Five Reasons to Tell Stories

(1) To ensure what you have to say rings true universally—and that happens when you’re able to craft your story from a deeper place in your being, and

(2) To get the opposite of calm—you add peaks and valleys, waves and storms into the writing so the manuscript isn’t boring!

(3) To connect us as human beings — our common experience. Stories of the way we work together, or live together. Things we experience together, whether that’s dealing something big like dealing with an illness, or celebratory like having a baby.

(4) To communicate our values — this is what matters to me. How we made a difference in someone’s life, walking 15 miles in the snow to get to school.

(5) To share a message, make a point — the moral of the story. Stories that provide hope or encouragement, you can do it — not giving up on a goal.

Story Sparkers

If you’re stuck on coming up with a great idea for a personal story, ask yourself these questions first:

Why did you write that very book you wrote or the one you’re writing now?

What gives you a sense of satisfaction about the book and its subject matter? I

What inspires you every day?

What do you feel most proud of as you wrote this book?

How do you know or imagine your book making a positive difference in someone else’s life

What is a treasured moment you carry in your pocket right now that could be turned in a meaningful story?

 Have you ever been badly hurt?

Have you ever been scared?

Have you ever laughed so hard you fell out of your chair, or peed your pants?

How did you learn to swim?

Did you ever play a practical joke? Have you ever had one played on you?

Have you ever done something you are proud of?

Have you ever been to a dangerous area?

When were you in a lot of trouble?

Who do you think of when I say, that person just drives me nuts! Why?

Elements of the Story Arc

  • Set the scene 
  • Describe the characters
  • Describe what happens/climax/series of events
  • Resolve the problem
  • Make a point that can apply to reader/listener

 Let us know if this teleclass and these points are helpful. How we can assist you in commiting to tell your own stories in a meaningful, engaging, inspirational way?