Monday, April 6, 2009

Pet peeves

Every editor has his pet peeves. I worked with a guy years ago who hated the use of "over" when "more than" would have worked. Over, he said, worked with the cow jumped over the moon; more than works with more than 10 billion burgers have been eaten.

Another editor didn't like to use names in headlines, especially if the person wasn't famous. He also didn't like to start a story with a name.

Yet another editor hates it when newspapers use the word hike as a verb, as in, "The New York Yankees hiked ticket prices yesterday." They also raised prices, and that'll work nicely.

One of my greatest pet peeves is "made his way." I once started reading a chapter in a novel and noticed "made his way" eight times on one page and 40 times in the chapter. The protagonist didn't walk, strut or stroll. He didn't move, slide, wend or walk. He didn't even matriculate or hurry. He made his way, over and over and over.

I hate it when a writer uses less when fewer works better. "GM is building less cars this year" makes me throw up. GM is building fewer cars than last year.

My greatest pet peeve is a lazy writer who won't re-read his stories a few times to find typos or other mistakes. He misses repetition and changes in tense. And he misses repetition. This guy thinks he's perfect the first time, and he's always wrong.

As writer/grammarian William Safire has said, “If you re-read your work, you can find on re-reading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by re-reading and editing."

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

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1 comment:

  1. Someone said, "the art of writing is rewriting," and I wish I could remember the source. - Maybe Strunks? Great post.