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Amy Lou Jenkins is the award-winning author of Every Natural Fact: Five Seasons of Open-Air Parenting

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editing, editing for writers, edit your work, how to edit

Anthology of Articles on Editing Your Work

   

These four articles are like a free mini class on editing.


"How could this have happened?" Don't Forget to Edit More than
Once!

Author: Laura Hickey


One Isn't Enough When it Comes to Proof Reading Your Work

Here's a story of an author who had to learn the hard way that
one proof reading isn't enough.

She had finished her manuscript and was really excited. She knew
a local retired English teacher and approached her about her
book. She offered to pay for her services but the retired
English teacher refused. She expressed interest in proof-reading
for the reason of helping a local writer. The author was happy
and satisfied about having her work edited for free. After she
edited the mistakes, she had her book typesetted. That seemed
like the logical step at the time. Then she sent the files to
the printers. She order 300 copies.

As she started selling, politely a women told her about some
mistakes in the book. She was horrified by this. She put away
her fears and reviewed her book. Her happiness had deflated
within minutes. There were mistakes and more than a few. This
was her fault. She should've checked thoroughly before approving
her printing order. But there's also another lesson in this
story. Never trust one person's proof reading. Have relatives
and friends that you trust not to steal your work to proof-read.
Heck, even hire a professional as well if you feel that your
manuscript still needs editing. Always have more than one person
proof reading your work. What two people may miss, the third
person reviewing may notice.

What happened to her 300 copies? Some went to reviewers, others
for free copies. Please keep in mind to warn the reviewer if you
do have some bad copies about the grammar and other mistakes.
Don't make the same costly decision she did. One editing, isn't
enough.

About the author:
Read more articles written by Ms. Laura Hickey and her
children's book Mysterious Chills and Thrills E-book for Kids.
Ten Short Stories to Tickle the Imagination. "Spooky" "Awesome"
"Unpredictable" Isn't it time you entered the world where
shadows lurk and each page turn could be your doom...
http://www.laurahickey.com


 

 

 

 

 

 

 Making Better Word Choices – 4 Examples

By  David J. Clapham


Choosing the wrong words can have a poor effect on your writing and on you. Whether you are writing a cover letter for a job, a business proposal, or an application essay for graduate school, using words poorly can result in negative feedback. One could find entire books regarding word choices for writers; this article will touch on some fundamental, but important ways to choose the correct word for your situation.

Our starting point will be the use of “There are” or “There is” to begin sentences. Consider this; the word “there” indicates “not here” (in other words, some other place). Now look at the
sentence below and think about what the meaning is and what might be intended.

There are four dogs playing with a ball.  If the writer meant that four dogs are over there and they are playing with a ball, then this would be technically correct. If the intention was merely that four dogs are playing with a ball, here, there, or anywhere, then the sentence could be worded better. The following sentence would show better wording on the writer’s part.

Four dogs are playing with a ball.

The next two words that writers often confuse are “which” and “that.” If the goal of your writing is to describe something and you have used commas to separate the phrase from the rest of the sentence you want to use “which.” When a writer wants a word to define and the reference is restricted then you want to use “that.” The first sentence below shows the correct use of “that” and the second sentence shows correct use of “which.”

The Yodo is the river that runs through Osaka. The Yodo, which is a major waterway, runs though Osaka.

Our next word choice is between “while” and “although.” Another way of thinking about the word “although” is to look at its meaning, as found on Merriam-Webster Online dictionary the
meaning is, “in spite of the fact that : even though.”1 The definition of “while” indicates a relation to time, such as during a period when something else is happening. Two correctly
worded sentences are below.

Although he is not tall, he is a good basketball player. While he listened to the radio, he finished his homework.

A writer’s choice between “since” and “because” also involves the possibility of a reference to time. Many people use “since” when they really mean “because,” this is rarely a correct use of the word “since.” When choosing a word to suggest “from a definite past time until now”1 use “since.” If you are not referring to time, “because” should be the word you choose. Try
using “because,” if your sentence doesn’t make sense then you probably want to use “since.” In the examples below the two incorrect sentences do not sound correct, while the correct
sentences actually sound better.
Incorrect:He had few friends since he was too annoying.
Correct:He had few friends because he was too annoying.
Incorrect:He has not ridden a bicycle because 1990.

Correct:He has not ridden a bicycle since 1990.

Whether you are writing an essay for school or you are writing a speech for your CEO, choose your words carefully because what people hear or read from you can make a big difference in their opinion about you and your intelligence. For anyone writing, regardless of topic, length, or purpose, ask for assistance if you need it, not doing so can have serious repercussions on your reputation.

1 Merriam-Webster Online. 20 January 2005. http://m-w.com/

About the author:
David is the owner of Blue Arch Consulting, a proofreading and
editing business helping clients worldwide to generate English
documents of all types. Their website is at
http://www.blue-arch.net.


 

   
Basic Writing Tips – Some Controversial, All Correct

By David J. Clapham


As a previous article (“Making Better Word Choices – 4
Examples”) explained, writers can take steps to prevent simple,
and common, errors from degrading their writing. Five areas of
writing that cause authors problems are discussed in this
article.

Split Infinitives First let us exam the famously frowned upon
split infinitive. Maybe some readers do not know, or do not
remember, what a split infinitive is exactly. To understand
split infinitives readers must first remember what constitutes
an infinitive. An infinitive is a phrase that includes a verb
preceded by the word “to,” such as, “to play” or “to
investigate.” Now that we know what an infinitive is maybe we
remember our English teachers lecturing us against “splitting”
them. Simply put, a split infinitive is when a writer puts a
word between the word “to” and the associated verb. Therefore, a
split infinitive would look something like the following
examples:

He was going to quickly investigate the theft. Tommy likes to
neatly color in his book.

These two examples would be re-written as shown below.

He was going to investigate the theft quickly. OR He was
quickly going to investigate the theft.

Tommy likes to color neatly in his book. OR Tommy likes to
color in his book neatly.

Splitting infinitives is not criticized to the degree it has
been in the past. As many reputable sources explain,
occasionally splitting an infinitive is acceptable. Even some
progressive English teachers will agree with this idea. Compact
Oxford Online Dictionary explains that the rule for not
splitting infinitives was based on an analogy to Latin, a
language that writes infinitives as one word, such as bibere ‘to
drink.’ The decision to argue with an English teacher about the
acceptance of splitting infinitives is your decision to make. As
Oxford states, “…in standard English the use of split
infinitives is broadly accepted as both normal and useful.1” If
you do decide to argue with an English teacher, feel free to
point out that people such as John Donne, William Wordsworth,
and Benjamin Franklin split infinitives at will. The larger
problem occurs when a writer consistently splits their
infinitives. If splitting the infinitive helps with emphasis or
the statement flows better go ahead and split the infinitive.

Superlatives and Comparatives Writers should also strive to use
superlatives and comparatives correctly. Some cases of incorrect
use may sound okay, but if the author remembers the rules that
they learned for using superlatives and comparatives they will
realize that they have made the error. For example when a
sentence is written as below it sounds correct, but it is not.

One of the most common mistakes a cook makes is not using fresh
ingredients.

In this example, the lack of fresh ingredients is either a
common mistake or it is the most common mistake; there generally
cannot be two, or more, most common mistakes. A case where there
can be two “mosts” is in an exact tie. For example, if 20
mistakes are made and two of them occur six times each (making
up 12 of the 20 mistakes) and the remaining eight mistakes are
all different, then the two mistakes that occurred six times
each could be labeled as the most common mistakes.

The sentence below shows another way that a comparative can be
written incorrectly.

Of the three dogs, the bulldog was the smaller.

To use a comparative there needs to be something compared to
something else. The bulldog either was the smallest of the three
dogs or was smaller than another dog in the group. Both
sentences below are written correctly.

The bulldog was smaller than the German shepherd and the St.
Bernard. The bulldog was the smallest of the three dogs.

A third sentence, shown below would also be correct.

The bulldog was smaller than the other two dogs.

This is written correctly because the bulldog is compared to a
pair. It is clear from the sentence that the other two dogs, by
being grouped together, are larger than the bulldog.

Comma Use The use of commas can be confusing for many writers.
Three rules for using commas are addressed here. The first rule
involves comma use when a series is given, such as in the
example below.

I bought carrots, peas, and watermelons.

Some readers may consider this rule controversial; some teachers
and editors may say the final comma is not necessary, in my
opinion the use of the final comma is more appropriate than not.
If, for some reason, your teacher or editor tells you the final
comma is unnecessary then ask them to explain why, I do not have
an explanation as to why some have a preference for not using
the final comma. Do not use a comma when only two items are in
the series, such as in the sentence below.

I saw birds and fish at the pet store.

The second rule for use of commas is to use a comma before the
“and” when a wholly correct clause is introduced. The way to
determine if the clause is wholly correct is to ask if it makes
sense on its own, such as having its own subject(s) and verb(s).
The example below shows two clauses separated by “and,” along
with a correctly used comma.

We went to the store, and Joan bought some juice.

The third rule is an extension of the second rule; do not use a
comma to separate a sentence from text that could not be a
complete clause on its own. The example below shows an incorrect
use of a comma in this situation.

We are going home, and sleep.

The ending of the example sentence (“…and sleep”) is not a
complete sentence on its own, therefore, a comma should not be
used before “and.”

Acronyms and Abbreviations Completely spell out acronyms and
abbreviations the first time they are used. Once a writer
decides to use an acronym or abbreviation they should be used
throughout the remainder of the text, switching back and forth
between the full spelling and the acronym or abbreviation should
be avoided.

Using “etc.,” “i.e.,” and “e.g.” The final rules discussed in
this article involve the use of several common abbreviations.
The first abbreviation is “etc.” This comes from Latin and is an
abbreviation for et cetera, which means “and others.” First,
make sure that a period is included at the end; second, make
sure that the “others” have been specified previously. A final
note on this abbreviation, if it is used put the letters in the
correct order; “ect.” is not correct. The second abbreviation
often misused is “i.e.” Also from Latin, this is a shortened
form of id est which means “that is.” When used correctly this
abbreviation indicates an alternative way of stating something.
The most common error when using “i.e.” is not following it with
a comma; there should be two periods and a comma in this
abbreviation. The final abbreviation discussed in this article
is “e.g.” Again, this is an abbreviation for a Latin phrase,
“exempla gratia.” This is used when the writer means “for
example” or “for instance.” Some people believe that “e.g.”
stands for example given, this is not true, but it can be a
helpful way to remember that it does have something to do with
an example. Similar to the use of “i.e.” many writers forget to
put a comma after the second period in “e.g.” Below are three
correct examples of these abbreviations.

Bob bought a whole bunch of office supplies, pens, pencils,
staples, paper, highlighters, and erasers on his way home. He
purchased so many things that when he got home he realized that
he had forgotten a bag at the store. He had his pens and
pencils, but the staples etc. were still at the store.

John is a big person, i.e., he is over six feet tall.

The black horse is fast, e.g., it has won all of its races.

By using the rules above your writing will make more sense and
will be correct. Future articles will address other writing
errors and provide additional advice.

1 Compact Oxford Online Dictionary. 25 January 2005.
http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/splitinfinitive

About the author:
David is the owner of Blue Arch Consulting, a proofreading and
editing business helping clients worldwide to generate English
documents of all types. Their website is at
http://www.blue-arch.net.