5023 Sillary Circle
Anchorage, AK 99508-4855
What I Do
1. Mechanical editing, which covers grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization and so forth
2. Substantive editing, which addresses content, organization, effectiveness, style, unity, appropriateness to audience, and the like
3. Developmental editing, which guides the author through the planning and writing of a manuscript
4. Seminars on grammar, composition, technical writing, business writing, and fiction
I accept fiction, nonfiction, articles, and technical, academic, and commercial documents.
What I Don't Do
1. Documents on a level of technicality that requires an editor from the field
2. Manuscripts I consider hateful, libelous, or pornographic
Hello. Just hello.
A question that should come up more often than it does, considering how many errors it generates, is the use of apostrophes. These tricky little punctuation pests do several things. They chiefly indicate (1) possession (a child’s toy, children’s toys, students’ books), and (2) omission (in ’98 we traveled to Europe; it’s getting late; he’d never seen anything like that).
Remember that the possessive apostrophe comes after a plural word, that is, construct the plural first (whether it ends in an s or not), then add the apostrophe (players’ uniforms, nations’ laws) or apostrophe + s if your plural does not end in an s (women’s clothing). Failure to do so alters meaning (my doctor’s advice refers to the advice of one single physician; my doctors’ advice indicates advice by all your doctors).
Perhaps I haven’t noticed it as much in the past, but in recent years it has struck me how often we mangle tense. Time and again I hear people say things like, “This car hit me so I had pulled off the road.” Whenever you use a past perfect (had pulled off), you refer to a time prior to the event you are describing, in this case a collision. The way this sentence reads, rather awkwardly, it sounds like you had pulled off the road before you were hit. In general, we tend to write in the simple past tense (I walked down the street; they sang in the choir). That simple past becomes your reference point, the main action. Any additional action (pulling off the road) requires the same tense.
A past perfect (I had walked down the street, they had sung in the choir) refers to a time farther back. It usually implies an additional statement (Before I went home, I had been shopping).
Similarly, news services report that a noncandidate claimed, “I could have beaten him if I ran.” Naturally, he should have said, “If I had run.” They also spoke of an action “that sunk the legislation.” Sank, folks, sank. Professional writers should be held to a higher standard.
A biologist of my acquaintance lamented our confusion in the matter of pine and fir trees, and I was too embarrassed to admit my ignorance, so I looked it up. Sure enough, they are not the same thing. Pines are coniferous evergreens having slender, elongated needles; fir trees, on the other hand, are north temperate evergreen trees of the pine family that have flattish leaves, circular leaf scars, and erect female cones, says Merriam Webster. Who knew.
The terms lawful, legal, and legitimate are all rooted in the concept of law, but have over time assumed slightly different connotations. Legal means “of, relating to, or in conformity with the law” (the legal owner of a property, a legal maneuver). Lawful has come to mean “within the law,” or “sanctioned or recognized by law” (spitting on the sidewalk is lawful behavior in this community). Legitimate has distanced itself even further from legal, and means accepted, authentic, or even genuine (convenience is not a legitimate excuse for jaywalking).
Our fascination with the blue streak produces statements, even from relatively respected news sources, such as: “It was unclear as to how long these facts have been known.” What is the as to about? The same online news sources spoke of “originized religion.” What can I say.
My favorite of the month (ESPN, who else): “They nipped it in the butt.”
“I enjoy writing immensely as I expect you do my stories,” someone wrote to me. Actually, not so much. And I don’t do her stories. She does (I think).
An online purveyor of important news announced that an overhyped TV personality “welcomed a new French bulldog to her family in revealing bikini.” So who wore the bikini—the celebrity, her family, or the French bulldog?
An on-air announcement of an upcoming event declared that there was to be a seminar around race. What is it about the word around these days? We have discussions, seminars, protests, townhall meetings, riots, and programs “around” all sorts of things. Do they talk around the subject?
How about a discussion of or a seminar on race, or whatever other topic we don’t want to dance around?
Write @ Wrong is now in its sixth edition, published in November 2011 in Anchorage, Alaska. It is a lighthearted reference for writers, sort of a CliffsNotes for the Chicago Manual of Style and various other style guides. It covers topics such as dangling constructions, punctuation, pronoun use and abuse, hyphenation, number format, vicious verbs (such as lay and lie), and more. The last section, Terrible Twos, is devoted to confusing pairs such as aggravate and irritate, amount and number, continual and continuous.
Break Point Down
— Game Over
Kitt Buchanan is young, rich, a champion athlete at the top of his game. Is it possible to be outrageously gifted and not be a self-indulgent jerk? Do excellence and balance mix? Life abruptly changes and he is now a beginner, a qualifier. Where is the line between courage and stupidity?In Break Point Down a repeat Grand Slam champion follows a dream that quickly gets away from him.
A fateful decision, made with all the confidence of total ignorance, turns his life upside down, and an abused child further shatters his dream. His efforts to navigate in that minefield test his belief in himself and others. Now the skills that have made him a champion must make him a man.
But who is sabotaging his struggle and why?
Write & Wrong (ISBN 978-159433269-2) and Break Point Down (ISBN 978-159433111-4) may be ordered from the publisher: Publication Consultants 8370 Eleusis Drive Anchorage, AK 99502 Tel. 907.349.2424 Fax 907.349.2426 www.publicationconsultants.com
Copyediting Services 5023 Sillary Circle Anchorage, AK 99508-4855 Tel. 907.333.5293 Cell 907.720.2032 E-mail: email@example.com
Price: Write &Wrong $24.95 plus shipping Break Point Down $17.95 plus shipping
Both books may also be ordered from amazon.com or wherever good books are sold.
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