Posts Tagged ‘editing’

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Word counts by genre

November 2, 2010

Can’t seem to find where this came from, but it’s well worth the read. From Colleen Lindsay, former agent now with Penguin Group.

Last week I sat down with two fiction editors and hammered out a more comprehensive list of suggested word counts by genre & sub-genre. As you read through this, keep in mind three important things: 1.) these are suggested word counts; rules get broken all the time; 2.) these suggested word counts will most often apply to debut writers; successfully published authors are the ones who end up breaking the rules, and 3.) if you are planning to e-publish only, and your book will never be printed out on actual paper, these guidelines aren’t nearly as important.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Something about bad writing ….

April 23, 2010

Okay, okay, I know it involves politics, but who and what Solicitor General Elena Kagan actually does is beyond my purpose here.

Rather, grab your red pencil. No, don’t actually write on your monitor, but you know what I mean, right?

The Huffington Post explains:

In a post for CBS written by Ben Domenech, who is also editor of The New Ledger, Kagan is described as President Barack Obama’s most likely choice. She’s also described as potentially the “first openly gay justice.”

Domenech later added an addendum stating, “I have to correct my text here to say that Kagan is apparently still closeted—odd, because her female partner is rather well known in Harvard circles.”

Bob Englehart - Hartford Courant - April 13, 2010Anyone? Anyone?

I’m not surprised that the post is unsigned.

Anyway, I had a composition teacher in high school who forbade us the phrase, “due to”. I still have a hard time writing it. She wasn’t the worst, either. Apparently, my friend’s teacher would not let her students start two sentences in the same paper with the same word. Not consecutive. Throughout. I think it was her way of making sure nobody got the perfect mark for a paper.

The late Jack Cady once explained that he told his writing students at Pacific Lutheran University to ignore everything their writing teachers ever taught them. Yes, there’s a paradox in there, but, nothing can destroy a good young writer like an ambitious writing teacher. I had a band teacher once who pretty much did that for me and music. Not that I don’t like music. I do. Just, not performing it. Then again, I’m a coward, anyway, so we cannot actually convict the bald guy with the ugly mustache and the breath that reeked of coffee and menthol cigarettes. Nor can I say he was particularly ambitious. At least he didn’t seem that way. And in later years, a friend described him as a “bad” teacher, which made a certain amount of sense.

Oh, right. Where as I? Sorry.

Yeah, I don’t think you need to be a fascist composition teacher to forbid certain basic, obvious notions in writing. One should be able to show their own internal restraint. Speak nothing of the editing at Huffington Post.

I’m just sayin’ ….

Alright, so … as long as we’re at it, can we strike the word “robust”, unless we’re referring to a quality of food? And banish forever the use of “transition” as a verb? I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about it before, but everyone has certain peeves. I will not “transition” that box to the other office. I will transfer it. I will send it. I will even transport it if I must. But I will not “transition” the bleepin’, blankety-blank, (expletive) box!

Right. Sorry.

-bd

Cartoon by Bob Englehart, Hartford Courant, April 13, 2010.

(Are you afraid of bad writing? That is, are you afraid of your own … er … damn it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know where this goes. Newport Beach, September 26, SCWC LA 8 … all that. Register before June 1, and save $75 as we help you to suck less. Oh, God! Did I just …. Oh, no, not like that. I didn’t mean to imply you actually suck, or anything. Damn it. I’m sorry. Really. Please. I’m sorry. It’s … I don’t know, it’s just something about this thing MSG says from time to time. About sucking less. It’s supposed to be funny, I guess. I’m not sure; I don’t remember. I mean … yeah. Er … or maybe it’s Wes. Ffff— …. That’s what I get for ignoring them. How freakin’ embarrassing.)

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Lesson from an editor who really edits

November 10, 2009

“Journalism is a collaborative effort, the product of a team of reporters, photographers and editors working in concert to produce the kind of activist agenda that has served Star readers and our community so well for so long…” says union chief Maureen Dawson, in response to Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank’s internal memo announcing the layoff and outsourcing of some one-hundred in-house, union editing jobs. One such editor responded appropriately here.

–msg

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Red pen fever

August 21, 2009

Speaking of magazine editors ….

Did you know some educational theorists suggest that teachers should not use red pens in correcting students’ homework and tests because the red ink is widely perceived as intimidating?

Well, no wonder.

Okay, I know it’s a bit political, but did anyone catch last month when Vanity Fair took to former Alaska Gov. Sarha Palin’s speech announcing her intention to resign?

If you watched Sarah Palin’s resignation speech, you know one thing: her high-priced speechwriters moved back to the Beltway long ago. Just how poorly constructed was the governor’s holiday-weekend address? We asked V.F.’s red-pencil-wielding executive literary editor, Wayne Lawson, together with representatives from the research and copy departments, to whip it into publishable shape. Here is the colorful result.

Colorful, indeed. Obviously, I have a lot to learn about editing a manuscript. I mean, I always feel like I’m nitpicking when I read through friends’ manuscripts. Heavens to bogosians, though—I feel so lame, now.

At any rate, don’t let it frighten you.

-bd