Friday, September 30, 2011

Quick edit

I know people wonder why I often use sports sentences to display examples of editing. That's simple: I find more sports sentences that need editing. Most (but not all) of the news and feature material I read is well edited.

Let's look at this one:

Walden’s shoulder hit what appeared to be Cutler’s shoulder while outside linebacker Clay Matthews was tackling the quarterback.

Is this the same?

Walden’s shoulder appeared to hit Cutler’s shoulder while outside linebacker Clay Matthews was tackling the quarterback.

It's a minor edit, but I think it's better this way.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Who vs. whom, again

I hate to go back to "who vs. whom" again, but it appears necessary. Found online:

After all, whom are the Dolphins going to get to replace Sparano on an interim basis?

That's right. Who would work better here.

Oops. I just noticed the sentence in front of the one above.

That is — regardless of what the mob with torches and pitchforks wants — the correct tact.

Tacking comes from sailing, and it would be the correct tack, not tact.

By the way, someone on LinkedIn has said that people are using "cache" when they mean "cachet." You're right; two different things.

It reminds me of the "writer" who talked about a two-carrot earring. That would be two-carat, not two-carrot. Bugs Bunny, an expert on carrots, would know the difference.

More editing/writing blog entries

Saturday, September 24, 2011

To my sister and I

I just heard an author on radio say "to my sister and I." No. I believe that would be "to my sister and me." To me, you wouldn't say "to I."

I do understand his mistake. It's easier to write right than it is to speak correctly.

More editing/writing blog entries

National Punctuation Day

For all of you writers and editors out there, today is National Punctuation Day. I don't know if there is anything big planned -- picnics, fireworks, trick or treaters -- but I wish we could do something.

Obviously, punctuation is near and dear to me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

COMMENT: You need an editor

Here's a comment from a reader on my post about writers needing editors (whether they think they do or not):

WordzGuy said...
+1, as the kids say. Roger Angell, who knows a thing or two about writing, once said this:

"Every writer needs a good editor. All of them, even the best. It's interesting that the older and best-known and most professional writers are the ones who really appreciate an editor. Young writers are terrified. They think, 'What I've done should not be touched.'"

I will also venture to observe that in these "I don't need an editor" discussions, the writer is probably thinking only about things like minor grammatical errors and typos. Whereas editing encompasses such issues as identifying who exactly the writer is talking to, and why they need the information; whether the information is being presented in a logical and useful order; whether it contains fluff or obscurity, or is simply incomplete; etc.

Thanks for the comment, WordzGuy.

More editing/writing blog entries

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A horrible stacked modifier

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I hate stacked modifiers. Take this:

They have one more against the Angels on Sunday and then try to ruin the baseball lives of the American League wild-card-leading Boston Red Sox next week at Fenway Park. 

"American League wild-card-leading Boston Red Sox" is way too long. This is better:

They play the Angels again on Sunday and then next week at Boston will try to ruin the baseball lives of the Red Sox, leading the wild-card chase in the American League.

It's about the same length, and it gets rid of the huge stack.

More EDITOR@WORK blog entries

Blog entries on The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

Saturday, September 17, 2011

You need a good editor

I was asking my freelance writers and editors group who they get to edit their stories, and I was shocked. One of the writers said that she didn't need an editor. She's a good writer and self-editor and doesn't make spelling or factual mistakes.

Naturally, I was shocked. I'm a good writer and terrific self-editor, and I always feel nervous when I throw my blogs out there with no one reading them in advance. I constantly write with instead of who or that instead of than. I flip-flop words or transpose letters in a single word. Even though I push tight writing, I get wordy. I can't help it; I'm human.

In the 1990s, I was the auto-racing writer for a newspaper, and on Saturdays I'd be given the auto-racing page to design. Naturally, my column would go on that page, and I would ask nearly everyone in the sports and news departments to read it. I make mistakes, and I need an editor.

And that writer needs an editor, whether she thinks so or not.

Another writer on the freelance network has family members edit her stories or articles. She says that they're all educated and have a writing background. I can understand this writer's feelings, since I have my wife read my magazine or newspaper stories for errors. Of course, my wife was a copy editor at the local newspaper. Different kettle of fish.

My advice: Find a good editor, whether it's a family member who has a degree in English or a professional like me. Don't take chances.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Too much going on

The writer is trying to do too much with this sentence:

The Raiders (1-0) won in Denver for the fourth straight season in coach Hue Jackson's NFL head coaching debut, and handed the Broncos (0-1) their first loss in a home opener since 2000. 

That sounds like Hue Jackson won his coaching debut each of the last four seasons.

In Coach Hue Jackson's NFL head coaching debut, the Raiders (1-0) won in Denver for the fourth straight season. They handed the Broncos (0-1) their first loss in a home opener since 2000.