Writing Glitch #144

Today’s glitch:


I have a conjecture about why many people think it’s correct to say lay in bed: the nursery rhyme beginning with Now I lay me down to sleep… In that rhyme, though, lay has an object: me. Without an object for the verb, lay would be wrong. (You lie in bed, but you lay yourself down.)

Anyway, the verb in the very beginning of this example is incorrect.

Also, the first sentence is compound. (You know what that means, right? Yep, you guessed it: it needs a comma before the conjunction.)

Other changes were made to fix clunkiness. For example, a lot of writing advice says to avoid the word that like it’s some kind of horrible disease. (Feel free to imagine me rolling my eyes at overzealous and uninformed writing advice.) Changing that says to saying eliminates the problem word. I deleted to see what it is, because why else would you turn on a light in a dark room, if not to see?

You are lying in bed in the dark, and you glance over and see an odd shadow in the corner of your room. You’re about to turn on a light when you hear a voice in your head saying, “Don’t move. They’re watching you.”



About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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6 Responses to Writing Glitch #144

  1. Pingback: Commentition Spontaneous September 2016 | I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

  2. Seems the trick is shorter sentences then? Less muck to get caught up in?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not necessarily. Short sentences can still be compound, for example. (A very short compound sentence: Snow fell, and wind blew.) A short sentence can still have an adverb needing to be set off with a comma or commas. (Indeed, this happens a lot.)

      With a short sentence, though, there’s less chance of getting lost in a long string of prepositional phrases and forgetting which noun the main verb goes with. (The flowers growing by the side of the road near Grandma’s house is pretty in the morning sunshine. Um… No. Flowers IS? *shakes head*)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoy your blog. It’s like working a puzzle. I try to find the mistakes and then I check your answer. I almost got this one 🙂 I missed the ‘that says’.

    Liked by 1 person

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