Skip to main content

the editor speaks

some of you may have noticed that there are occasionally comments within my blog posts attributed to an editor. [like this. -ed.] of course, "the editor" isn't actually a separate person, just one of the many characters who lives in my imagination and serves as a useful counterpoint to the voice of "kate the writer".  since i've been editing my own writing a fair bit lately, that character has been thrust to the fore and i thought it might be nice to do a little recap of all the bad writing habits she's noticed in the hopes that it will be able to help others. [let's start with you, shall we? -ed.] the truth is, i probably don't edit my stuff enough as a general rule, which is why there are occasional spelling mistakes and grammatical whoopsies [i'm not even going to ask where you came up with that term -ed.] sprinkled throughout this blog. when it comes to things that i plan on publishing, however, i need to be more cautious and make sure that i'm not about to set myself up for a guest spot in one of those "best of writing fails" lists. you know the ones that i'm talking about- "the sun shone from his behind" kind of thing. [get on with it. -ed.] anyway, here is my internal editor with a few tips on the most common mistakes that i make in my writing...

good day to you all. as kate's internal editor, i notice that she has a number of regrettable habits that frequently require my input- we'll just deal with the writing ones. all writers have bad habits, i imagine, but there are some that can be curbed more easily than others. although my commentary is normally given in italics, i am concerned that you might find this difficult to read in longer stretches and so i shall use regular text for each of the points below. i hope this will not cause any confusion.

problem #1 :: getting too fancy with sentence structure. kate the writer does this far too often and i have to step in out of pity for the reader and uncomplicate things. yes, your tone of voice and writing style should be original, but that doesn't mean it should be needlessly complex. you want people to enjoy a story like they would a lovely bike ride in the countryside and not a roller coaster- taking in the experience and enjoying everything around them, not screaming and wanting it to be over.

problem #2 :: stop using that word. what word? that word that just came into your mind, kate the writer, the one that perfectly summed up what you wanted the reader to get from this part of the story. you've used it four times in two short paragraphs. you do this a lot. it's always a different word, but trust me, there is always a section in your stories where one word just keeping being repeated like it was a religious mantra. choose one instance where it's just perfect and move on. [ugh, it's true... i was editing on the way home from work and i found three or four instances of one word being used multiple times in quick succession. -kate the writer]

problem #3 :: get tense. you know how actions happen in the past or in the present or in the future? well when you're writing about them, you have to choose just one. you're not allowed to slide between all three or, let's be honest, the first two. [note to self: write short story in future tense -kate the writer] [stop interrupting -ed.] when you're wrapped up in the moment, i guess it's very easy to slide from thinking in one to thinking in the other, but it's completely confusing to readers who don't live in your head- which, incidentally, is a good thing, since it's crowded enough in here already. you're not allowed to bend time to your will. pick a tense, past or present [or future!!! -kate the writer] [shut up -ed.] and let your story live within it. when you get famous and widely respected, you can publish whatever babble you want and people will call it genius. only you and i and everyone who reads this blog post will know the truth.

problem #4 :: make plans. seriously, i know how incredible it is when inspiration strikes from the skies above and you're writing as if possessed by demons, i really do. but unless you're going to be limited to something that you can write in one sitting, you're going to continue to start things that never get finished because after that one passionate writing session, you don't know what the hell to do. planning never hurt anyone. take some of that passion and pour it into thinking of every twist and turn that shall befall your character creations. once you have that, then you can connect the dots. plus, you'll know where you're heading. and isn't it incentive to push yourself when you know where the finish line is?

for now, i will stop. i think that if she can conquer these issues, kate the writer will be on her way to being much stronger than she is now at her craft. if you have these same problems, perhaps you might want to work on them as well. or share your tips for working on them, so that she has a better idea of what to do. of course, if you have any other common problems you run into while writing, please feel free to share them and i will do the best that i can to assist you.

that's it, editor, this is dull and you're totally never writing another piece for this blog again. ["totally never writing"? sigh. -ed.]

the picture included with this piece was taken, of course, from i can has cheezburger. here's the original.

Comments

as long as you're here, why not read more?

fun-raising

no, i am not dead, nor have i been lying incapacitated in a ditch somewhere. i've mostly been preparing for our imminent, epic move, which is actually not so terribly epic, because we found a place quite close to where we are now. in addition, i've been the beneficiary of an inordinately large amount of paying work, which does, sadly, take precedence over blogging, even though you know i'd always rather be with you.

indeed, with moving expenses and medical expenses looming on the horizon, more than can be accounted for even with the deepest cuts in the lipstick budget, dom and i recently did something that we've not done before: we asked for help. last week, we launched a fundraising campaign on go fund me. it can be difficult to admit that you need a helping hand, but what's been overwhelming for both of us is how quick to respond so many people we know have been once we asked. it's also shocking to see how quickly things added up.

most of all, though, the ex…

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …