No Sleep in Brooklyn for the Vigilante Copy Editor

Yesterday’s New York Times features a piece about a vigilante copy editor who roams the sculpture park at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. Check out the story here. The vigilante’s mission is to repair the many grammatical and punctuation issues that afflict the placards in front of the artwork. No one knows whether this is the work Read more about No Sleep in Brooklyn for the Vigilante Copy Editor[…]

Welcome to the Show, or Coming up from Telling

The weather’s changing, finally, and something about the spring makes me want to take a detour from my usual editorial fare into the realm of fiction. Today, I feel inspired to take on the eternal struggle between telling and showing. I can’t promise you I’ll have all the answers, certainly, but I can at least Read more about Welcome to the Show, or Coming up from Telling[…]

They Shoot Gender-Nonspecific Pronouns, Don’t They?

Consider this sentence: A good writer must befriend his local bartender. (This is where Leah will remind us that my opinions don’t represent the company.) Seriously, sentences like this one are heavy with the potential for offense because they either include those who do not wish to be included (the good writer who doesn’t drink) Read more about They Shoot Gender-Nonspecific Pronouns, Don’t They?[…]

Using Your Words: Growth and Maintenance of the Writer’s Vocabulary

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” — Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride I see a disturbing trend rising in the new world of publishing. I see lots of writers who could use a vocabulary boost. This manifests itself in a couple of ways: either writers Read more about Using Your Words: Growth and Maintenance of the Writer’s Vocabulary[…]

The written form of English is . . . weird

I spent the bulk of the past weekend proofreading, a task that made me not only question every grammar rule I’ve ever learned, but my own sanity. Maybe the cause was my backwards reading, from back to front, so I could pick up errors (and not get caught up in the story). In my fervor Read more about The written form of English is . . . weird[…]

Your Manuscript’s Dress Rehearsal: Making That Final Read-Through

The editing is done. Your critique partners have done their work, and you’ve torn things down and rebuilt them and finished all the fine detail work. You’ve buffed every word of your manuscript to a high gloss. You’re ready now. It’s time to send your work, the fruit of your extensive labors, to find its Read more about Your Manuscript’s Dress Rehearsal: Making That Final Read-Through[…]

About What Is All This Commotion? The Rule Against Terminal Prepositions

I remember a very old, very played-out joke about today’s subject. The campuses change from region to region, but essentially, it goes like this. A student visiting a college campus stops one of the students to ask for directions. “Excuse me,” says the visitor. “Where’s the library at?” The host student replies, “Here at [insert Read more about About What Is All This Commotion? The Rule Against Terminal Prepositions[…]

The Nation Speaks … in a Manner of Speaking

I worry sometimes that I wrote myself into a corner when I told you about robo-editing. Most of the problems I will discuss here twice monthly are caused by the robotic enforcement of rules that demand human judgment.   One of the hallmarks of robo-editing is the inability to read language figuratively. Robo-editors cannot appreciate Read more about The Nation Speaks … in a Manner of Speaking[…]