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

The Almost-Great Novel: A True Cautionary Tale

I recently struck up a friendship with a first-time author I met in an online writers’ forum. He had written a YA novel that was soon to be published by a small publishing house. He hoped it would be the first of a trilogy …

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Getting Mad at Your Editor

Every few years I come across a client who responds to a professional edit by feeling offended. They have an emotional reaction to the criticism. The closer the story is to the author personally, the greater the chance that this will happen. Memoirists, for example, share intimate details of their lives. Having those sensitive subjects scrutinized by an editor who gives them honest feedback can, understandably, feel a  bit like having a wound debrided. Even if a doctor is gentle …

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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