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 …Read More
Scene time and place: A Civil War combat zone, just after a skirmish. Soldiers limp away from the conflict, weary and depleted. One falls to the ground, too weak to make it back to camp. The ground is littered with bodies of the wounded and dead. Far in the background, a white SUV speeds across the battlefield.
Whoops! It’s a goof in a Hollywood production, and we congratulate ourselves on catching it. We all get a laugh out of bloopers we find in the movies, but when they show up in a novel we’ve written, they aren’t quite so funny …Read More
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” …Read More