Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Change of Scenery



Editing one's own work is tricky. Before I continue, please allow me to explain that while I do edit my own work first, even I hire someone to edit my longer projects. Perhaps you wonder why, since I'm an editor. Doesn't it illustrate my own deficiency as a copy editor if I have to hire someone else to look at my own work?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Speaking in Action




I really enjoy reading well-conceived dialogue; it's often the most action-packed part of a narrative, whether fiction or non-fiction. From the perspective of a copy editor, however, it's also the part that requires the most meticulous focus. So, when there's a dialogue-heavy narrative, it takes this copy editor significantly longer to get through it. Why? Well, there are some common pitfalls that many authors have a hard time with.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What's "vacation?"


I have this one hang-up about Forrest Gump, which is otherwise one of my favorite movies of all time: when Forrest asks his mom what vacation is (where, Forrest hears her tell the amorous school principal, his father went), she tells him it's when someone goes somewhere and doesn't ever come back.

It doesn't bug me that she gives him an alternate definition to a word in order to explain where Forrest's dad is. What bothers me is that it seems like that was deliberately placed with the intention of a later scene involving at least a mention of Forrest's misunderstanding of the word. Like, maybe Jenny needs a vacation, or Lt. Dan needs a vacation, and Forrest gets confused about what that really means. Instead, Forrest never hears anyone else use the word in any context. "Vacation" is apparently erased from his environment's vernacular.

Monday, July 13, 2015

But, if there's no independent clause, why is there a comma?


I've mentioned previously that comma usage is a pet peeve of mine. Specifically, I've written about the loss of the comma, and how that's attributable to our abbreviated forms of written communication - text messages and social media.

There's something even more aggravating for me, however: commas inserted where they shouldn't be. I mean, first of all, why waste the effort? Second - it makes your writing choppy. But there's a trend going on among independent authors, specifically with the word "but" and commas. See how I started that sentence with, "But..."? And do you notice a comma in that sentence? Do you see that the comma is not immediately after the first word?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

It's All About the Benjamins



I've mentioned my disdain for apostrophe usage in plurals. Allow me to offer up the headline as an example. No, "Benjamins" should not be "Benjamin's," unless I was writing about "Benjamin's exciting love life" (which, incidentally, Mr. Franklin did allegedly have). 

Okay. Ahem. That's out of the way.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

For the fourth time, is it the 4th?



Happy 4th of July! Hey! Wait a minute! Has the grammatifier gone casual? Is that slang? That doesn't look at all like formal writing. Can you figure out whether there's a problem? Is it in the title, in this paragraph, or both? Does it really matter?