Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The things that drive editors crazy

For some time now I have been visiting The Blood-Red Pencil, a blog that offers "sharp and pointed observations about good writing". The blog is run by 10 editors and writers whose goal, they say, is to help writers by blogging about what they know best: editing.

If you are a writer or an editor, or even a media student, you will find plenty of relevant and enlightening material here presented in an interesting way.

Take, for instance, a January 2010 post on the things that drive editors crazy. Author and freelance editor Maryann Miller gets straight to the point in her intro:

I’ve been editing for a long time and am still amazed at how often I see common mistakes repeated over and over again.

And then she gives us examples of the common mistakes:

Fred walked out, taking the file with him. You don’t need ‘with him’. If he took the file, it’s with him, DUH!! Or the sentence could be rewritten to make it a little more visual. Fred grabbed the file and walked out.

Those gray eyes of his stared right at her.
This is an incredibly popular phraseology used in romance novels, and I wince every time I read it. As if he would be looking at her with anyone else’s eyes.

Sally shrugged her shoulders. What else would she shrug?

Harry nodded his head.
As opposed to his elbow?

Sam found himself standing in the middle of…
Was Sam lost? Much stronger to write: Sam stood in the middle of….

It was a picture of Madeline Smith, herself.
Could it not just be a picture of Madeline Smith, period? Even my husband asked if the use of the reflexive pronoun was necessary, and he’s not an editor.

As I noted earlier, there's so much to learn here. Read the post in its entirety: "Things That Drive An Editor Crazy".
  • The latest post, published today, on The Blood-Red Pencil is also, coincidentally, by Maryann Miller. Titled "Time Out for A Little Fun", the piece focuses on comic strips that, she says, feature jokes that connect loosely to writing and promoting. Read it here.

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