The 12 Days of Editing


merry

On the first day of Christmas, my author gave to me an outline with a frank plea.

On the second day of Christmas, my author gave to me two style guides and an outline with a frank plea.

On the third day of Christmas, my author gave to me three red pens, two style guides, and an outline with a frank plea.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my author gave to me four misspelled words, three red pens, two style guides, and an outline with a frank plea.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my author gave to me five clever zings, four misspelled words, three red pens, two style guides, and an outline with a frank plea.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my author gave to me six files saving, five clever zings, four misspelled words, three red pens, two style guides, and an outline with a frank plea.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my author gave to me seven plots a-twisting, six files saving, five clever zings, four misspelled words, three red pens, two style guides, and an outline with a frank plea.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my author gave to me eight sources bilking, seven plots a-twisting, six files saving, five clever zings, four misspelled words, three red pens, two style guides, and an outline with a frank plea.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my author gave to me nine villains glancing, eight sources bilking, seven plots a-twisting, six files saving, five clever zings, four misspelled words, three red pens, two style guides, and an outline with a frank plea.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my author gave to me ten gerunds dangling, nine villains glancing, eight sources bilking, seven plots a-twisting, six files saving, five clever zings, four misspelled words, three red pens, two style guides, and an outline with a frank plea.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my author gave to me eleven readers griping, ten gerunds dangling, nine villains glancing, eight sources bilking, seven plots a-twisting, six files saving, five clever zings, four misspelled words, three red pens, two style guides, and an outline with a frank plea.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my author gave to me twelve books forthcoming, eleven readers griping, ten gerunds dangling, nine villains glancing, eight sources bilking, seven plots a-twisting, six files saving, five clever zings, four misspelled words, three red pens, two style guides, and an outline with a frank plea.

Happy holidays to you and yours from those of us at Inkblot Editing!

Last-Minute Gifts for Your Writer and Editor Friends

Need some gift ideas for the writer or editor in your life? Impress a friend, or keep one for yourself. (We won’t tell. Promise.)


gifts

1/ These are my favorite pens for editing. Smooth ink flow, no bleed, fine point, a variety of colors. What could be better?

2/ Bill Bryson is a prolific author on many topics, but this book is one of his best. Not only is it filled with fascinating etymology facts, but it also has excellent usage tips for helping you find the perfect word.

3/ Flags are indispensable in the publishing field. Note where you need to match figure styles or mark where your character first introduced his weakness. With this set, you can do so with retro flair!

4/ Use this clever, blank notebook to incite curiosity when you’re out writing story ideas or dissertation outlines.

5/ Pens are a way of life, and this disposable fountain pen is a great way to make yours fancier.

Breaking the Rules for Better Writing

Ain't_We_Got_Fun_1I began writing this blog with the intention of being a good editor and doing my duty to inform others of the proper rules of writing. But really, do we need more of that? After all, Google gives us 1.3 million results for “common grammar mistakes.” I say we do something a little different. Let’s play rebel and take a look at five ways to break the oppressive stodgy formal rules of writing.

  1. Use words that aren’t words. I heard “Ain’t ain’t a word” all the time while growing up, yet people continued to use the nonword in their daily dialogue. I’m sure we could have a raucous debate about what makes a word a word, but let’s at least agree that nonwords make for more interesting and colorful writing. Who wants to use those boring real words all time?
  2. Sacrifice for cadence. Sometimes bad writing just sounds better. It may pain you to leave in those unnecessary words or end a sentence with a preposition, but listen to your writing; feel its beat and keep it strong.
  3. Split that infinitive! I’m assuming you are writing in English, not Latin. The “don’t split an infinitive” rule is based on the fact that you cannot split an infinitive in Latin. I mean, you really cannot split it; it’s one word. Funny though, English infinitives are two words, and there are a lot of spectacular words that will fit in that little space between.
  4. Don’t use complete sentences. Short, punchy clauses can sometimes do a better job of making your point, keeping the cadence, or enforcing your voice.
  5. Start sentences with but, because, and and. “Never start a sentence with a conjunction,” my fifth-grade teacher lectured the class. “But why?” I asked. “You mean, ‘Why?'” she replied, eyes narrowed. “Huh?” I was clearly confused. She sighed. “Huh isn’t a word.” “But I said it. Doesn’t that make it a word?” I asked innocently. She shook her head. “Just don’t start a sentence with a conjunction, OK?” “But why?” I asked. Exasperated, she nearly shouted, “Because I said so!” Do it, and be real.

Let’s hear from you. What is your favorite rule to break?

Learning Life Lessons Through L’Engle’s Structure

“Nothing important is completely explicable.”

– Madeleine L’Engle

Years ago, I took a nonfiction workshop where I read Madeleine L’Engle’s book Two-Part Invention: The Story of Marriage. Until that point, I had only read her fiction and a little of her poetry. Much of her nonfiction is about her religious conversion in adulthood, but Two-Part Invention is about love and hate and growing old. The title refers both to Bach’s “Two-Part Inventions” and L’Engle’s relationship with her husband, Hugh. A two-part invention is an exercise piece for piano consisting of two imitative lines, one for each hand, that toss musical motives back and forth, creating conversation. Because there are no chords, the harmony of the piece comes when the lines intersect. Such music surely frustrates the young pianist, but helps her grow in her playing.

The first few chapters of the book relate the separate childhoods of Madeleine and Hugh and how they met. Then Hugh proposes. Instead of jumping chronologically into marriage, L’Engle wrote an Interlude, using the house she and Hugh lived in, Crosswicks—meaning “where the two roads meet”—as a symbol of her marriage. Crosswicks is an old farmhouse with drafty windows and creaking stairs; it is home in every sense of the word, but constantly needs renovation. Continue reading “Learning Life Lessons Through L’Engle’s Structure”