An Editor’s Advice for ESL Authors (Non-Native English Speakers)

I frequently get emails from ESL authors—non-native English speakers who have written a book in English and are looking for an editor before they publish. ESL authors, this article is for you. If you are extremely fluent in English, this article does not apply to you. But if you aren't, and if you've written the book in English, or translated ... Read More

Hedge Words and Inflation Words—Prune These from Your Writing

As writers, we all know wordiness is something to avoid: never say in ten words what you can say in four. But while we get that in theory, it’s often hard, in practice, to produce tight writing. We look at the sentences on the page, suspecting they are verbose, but don’t know what to change or to eliminate. Let’s look at two common writing flaws that clutter the manuscripts of many aspiring authors. I call these culprits “hedge words” and “inflation words” …

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‘Begs the Question’ or ‘Raises the Question’?

No, esteemed author friends. "Begs the question" does not mean "raises the question." What is our language coming to? I sound like a pedant, but honestly ...  the rash of "begging the questions" we're now seeing everywhere, even on news shows and in presumably "edited" books, is enough to drive an editor around the bend. People think it sounds cool ... Read More

Banish These 2 ‘Stammer Verbs’ from Your Fiction Writing

Just as stammering halts speech, stammer verbs halt the flow of a written sentence. The author uses these verbs as if stammering around while searching for the genuine words she’s intending. Two verbs in particular are repeatedly used in a stammering way by many beginning novelists. Let’s take a look at these little suckers and identify why they pose problems for your story …

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Period Inside or Outside the Quotation Marks?

Perhaps you've wondered: should you place the period inside or outside the quotation marks? Believe it or not, it depends on where you live. If you’re an American, the period always goes inside. If you live in Great Britain, the opposite is true. The same can be said for the comma, where quote marks are concerned. Are you American? Tuck ... Read More