Writing Glitch #398

Today’s glitch:

*sigh* I wish the people who wrote these examples would pick a verb tense and stick with it. On the other hand, if they did that, I wouldn’t have any examples dealing with tenses…

Change lifted to lifts.

Delete quietly, not because it’s an adverb but because it’s an unnecessary adverb. Whispers are always quiet, unless otherwise specified (as in a stage whisper, which is actually rather loud so it’ll carry), so there’s no need to say quietly whispers.

The plane lifts off the runway and into the air. The person next to you turns and whispers in your ear, “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.”

If you want to emphasize that the dialogue happens after the plane takes off, try this: After the plane lifts off the runway and into the air, the person next to you turns[…] This way you’re maintaining consistent verb tenses but still making sequence extra-clear. (Do not write After lifting off the runway and into the air, the person next to you turns[…] You can see why that’s wrong, can’t 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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7 Responses to Writing Glitch #398

  1. cyclering says:

    I don’t really a see the function of “in your ear”. Can it be “whispers”


  2. curioushart says:

    Yes, I can see why the last sentence is wrong, but I still enjoyed reading it. It was good for a laugh.


  3. cyclering says:

    Pardon my miscommunication.. question. why is the term ” in your ear” important to the sentence?


  4. D.T. Nova says:

    “lifts off the runway and into the air” seems redundant to me.


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