Writing Glitch #273

Today’s glitch:


Mercenary Proofreader has no problem with adverbs in general, but he is very much against adverbs (or any other sort of word) that serve no purpose or make a sentence mean something it shouldn’t. Originally born is redundant. (What, they’re originally born that way, but later they’re born another way? *rolls eyes*) Delete the adverb.

The comma after born evil in the first paragraph needs to go away.

The semicolon after evil people in the second paragraph needs to be changed to a colon. (A semicolon is sometimes a “super comma,” but it is never a “lesser colon.”)

In the third paragraph, honey is a direct address; it needs to be separated from the rest of the sentence with commas. (This means a comma before it and one after it.)

“You know what they say about nice people, don’t you? They were born evil but were trained to be good.”

She looked at him and scowled. “So you must also know what they say about evil people: they were never trained to be good.”

He smiled a wicked smile. “Oh, honey, they tried to train me. I just didn’t listen.

(I detest both of these characters, by the way, and I’ve never even seen them before.)





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 #273

  1. Very helpful. Thanks for sharing. As for the content: I’ve never heard that saying about nice people. Is it a common saying that most people know?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think I also would have used the comma you removed from the first paragraph. Can you tell us a bit more about why it doesn’t belong?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I removed that comma because that sentence is not compound. (Many people incorrectly think that a comma is needed EVERY time a conjunction is used.)

      “They were born evil but were trained to be good.” Single subject “they” and compound verb phrases “were born” and “were trained” — single subject means the sentence is not compound despite there being two verbs (I can look up the jargon in CMS-16 if that would help.) If the sentence were “They were born evil, but they were trained to be good,” THEN you’d have both two subjects (“they” each time, but the word is used twice) and two verbs, thus a compound sentence (could be broken into two simple sentences by deleting the conjunction: “They were born evil. They were trained to be good.”) needing a comma before the conjunction.

      Liked by 1 person

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