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Why tell your readers about something that “didn’t” happen? They want to know DID happen. It is a subtle difference, but it makes a difference,

Here are three examples:

My attempt at learning how to cook didn’t pan out.

Remind me to turn down your invitation to dinner.

My attempt at learning how to cook was disastrous. 

~~~~~

They didn’t accept my invitations to dinner after that ill-fated night.

No small wonder.

They turned down every invitation to dinner after that ill-fated night. 

~~~~~

I didn’t try my hand at cooking again.

Phew.

From then on, I ate take-out Chinese or delivery pizza for dinner. 

Of course “didn’t” has its place. You need to use didn’t at times. If you “don’t know” something, you just don’t know it. Saying anything else would sound convoluted.

BUT, while editing my manuscript, when I read the word “didn’t,” I asked myself “Well, what “did” happen?”

Four examples of asking yourself, “What DID happen?”

I didn’t land the job.

Who did?

They gave the job to a bloke named Paul McCartney.

 ~~~~~

I didn’t hear the on-coming train.

  What did you hear?

“Hey Jude” turned up full-blast on my car radio drowned out the roar of the on-coming train. 

~~~~~

I didn’t get Paul McCartney’s autograph.

 Why not? 

Paul refused to come out of his dressing room even though I politely pummeled the door with my fists.

~~~~~

 Paul didn’t say anything while I scolded him.

Did he call his bodyguard?

Paul scanned the room for an escape route while I scolded him.

See what I mean?

Yum! Er . . . I mean, ugh!

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