“He began to walk across the room.”
“She started to answer.”
Why do I need to know this? Why can’t it just say “He walked” and “She answered”?
This is one of the most common issues I see in my fiction editing work. Characters are forever starting and beginning things they could, quite honestly, just do. So, when does beginning matter? Continue reading “When beginning matters”
… is not to leave a comment asking them to help you with your book.
That’s a short path to the trash bin, seriously. Continue reading “The best way to contact an editor …”
And by “re-evaluate myself,” I mean “reconsider my editing rates.” I am not the editor I was in 2012, when I hung out my imaginary shingle and said “Hi, I’m an independent editor who wants to work with independent authors.”
I’ve edited nearly 70 titles since then. I’ve never stopped reading books on the art and craft of editing, and I’ve started reading books on the art and craft of writing because, surprise surprise, they help me be a better editor. I’ve continued reading for pleasure (not nearly as much as I wish I had time for!). I’ve taken a class in developmental editing: a beginning class, because I was very unsure of my skill set even though my clients all told me I was doing the work already.
They were right. Continue reading “Time to re-evaluate myself.”
Yes, I know that Grammar Day is coming (March 4!), but a friend and former co-worker sent me this link a little bit ago with the comment that it might be “a good lead-in blog before ACES [national conference] this year.”
And indeed, it is. I won’t summarize here, because this is a Storify and therefore comprises numerous tweets (some from me!), making it already nicely chopped into bite-sized pieces for easy consumption. (That’s consumption as in “eating,” not consumption as in “tuberculosis.” Let’s be clear about that.) I dare not forget to thank Gerri Berendzen for collecting and Storifying the tweets for posterity.
Thank you, Steven, for suggesting this and providing the link. It’s in my bookmarks, along with dozens of others. I hope some of you will decide it’s worth keeping, too.
“Building a Reference Library: An #ACESchat Storify“
This came up earlier today over on the Twitterthing, and it’s worth a short blog post.
There’s “erstwhile” and there’s “ersatz,” and neither one means “so-called.”
I’ve seen it happen enough times that I made a note for myself. A writer wants to use a fancier word instead of “so-called,” and they grab “erstwhile.” Trouble is, that means “formerly” or (currently, more often) “former.” What they think they want is “ersatz,” which means “substitute, replacement, fake, faux” and suchlike that there. It doesn’t mean “so-called.”
The erstwhile mayor showed up at the commemoration wearing an ersatz fur with alarmingly realistic holes as if actual moths had eaten at it.
If you want to say “so-called,” say it. Just like that. It’s legal. I swear.
I haven’t found anything in any of my usage or grammar texts about this particular topic. I suspect it’s because the issue is one more of craft or art than of science (inasmuch as one can compare grammar to a science; one sure as hell can’t do that with usage, I know that for a fact).
Here’s the thing: I’ve seen paragraphs containing dialogue and reactions, and while that’s not illegal, the way it was written was less than clear. Person A says something, person B reacts to it in the same graf, and then A says something again. Why? Is it because the writer was taught that grafs have to be N sentences long? (N is often 10, for some reason entirely unknown to me. I had a professor, a Kipling scholar, who insisted that if we couldn’t write 10 sentences about a topic sentence, we needed a different topic sentence.) Not that any of these grafs came close to that, but it’s about all I can think of to explain the phenomenon. Continue reading “All right, you, break it up: Dialogue and reactions”
What editors do to a project isn’t all GUMmy stuff. It’s not only grammar and usage and mechanics. Especially for those of us who work with fiction writers, a lot of the work is about appropriateness. Continue reading “It’s not all GUMmy stuff.”