Writing Glitch #482

Today’s first glitch:

This, friends, is an example of someone confusing a couple of nouns that sound a little bit alike, but not the same.

The correct word is rowan (a kind of tree — it’s also known as the mountain ash), not Rohan (a fictional place in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings). This is why fact-checking is important (and why it helps to have at least one beta reader who has a brain full of “trivia” on all sorts of topics).

Also, deterrent is misspelled in the first sentence.

Rowan trees are regarded as a deterrent to malevolent fairies. Rowan cradles were carved to protect babies from being stolen by fairies. A rowan tree is the garden will provide the home and family with fairy blessings.

Just for fun, here is a photo of rowan trees, taken twenty-one years ago, next to the headwaters of the Saco River in New Hampshire.

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Writing Glitch #481

Today’s last glitch:

The introductory phrase After falling through time needs a comma after it.

Add a comma after phone, too.

Italicize the name of the network (use italics when referring to words as themselves) instead of putting it in quotation marks. (Yes, I’m aware that there are idjits on the internet who say you shouldn’t ever use italics because “they’re obsolete” or some such nonsense. The idjits are wrong.)

Add a comma after this, because the first part of the sentence is an introductory phrase.

After falling through time, you find yourself in the 1800s. You check your phone, only to find that you have a Wi-Fi signal. The name of the network is If you can see this, you need to hide.


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WritingGlitch #480

Today’s second (but not last) glitch: 

This sentence is compound (two complete sentences joined by a conjunction), so it needs a comma before the conjunction and. (I don’t care if you don’t wanna do it… Unless you can point to a valid style guide saying such commas aren’t required — and I know you can’t  — I’m going to keep nagging about this. It’s important.)

The wind swept across the island, and darkness hugged the sky.

(WordPress’ spell checker says wind swept should be one word. It’s wrong. Windswept is an adjective, whereas wind swept is a noun-verb combo — technically, those two words could be a sentence all by themselves. This is yet another reason why you shouldn’t trust a computer program to do all your proofreading/editing for you. Learn this stuff for yourself, and you’ll never be at the mercy of programs that can’t quite get it right…)


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Writing Glitch #479

Surely you suspected these would be back eventually, didn’t you? Well, friends, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do… 

Today’s first glitch:


You need a comma following an introductory adverbial phrase (after is an adverb — oh, no! 🙂 ), but this introductory phrase needs some rewording first, because it doesn’t fit with what follows. As it is, it says the homeless man thanks you after he gives himself some change… Weird, huh? Replace After giving with After you give, and it will make sense.

After you give a homeless man some change, he thanks you and then looks you straight in the eyes and gives you a piece of technology like no other you’ve ever seen.

It’s still awkward, though, Let’s see if we can do something about that.

You give a homeless man some change, and he thanks you. Then he looks you straight in the eyes and gives you a piece of technology like nothing you’ve ever seen before.


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Authors Answer 147 – Considering Economic Factors When Writing

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

Creativity is probably the leading reason authors write. They want to create stories that people enjoy. But how much does economics factor into writing books? There are several factors that may figure into how a person writes, including book length and more. This week’s question comes from Gregory S. Close.

Question 147 – Do you write purely creatively, or do you consider economic factors, such as how long the book will be, and how that would effect production/distribution costs?

C E Aylett

Purely creatively. If you approach it from the other direction you are boxing in your muse. And there’s nothing worse than a story that feels contrived to fit size (think of TV series Game of Thrones — wouldn’t we have liked a little more time to develop the Jon/ Dany relationship? Now it feels inauthentic because it wasn’t afforded the proper amount of time to develop, unlike him…

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Throwback Thursday: How to Be An Editor’s Favorite Client

A Writer's Path

Throwback Thursday is a series where we take a look back at some of AWP’s most popular posts. Enjoy!

by Katie McCoach

As an author, your relationship with your editor, your book cover designer, your agent, and your publishing house are all extremely important to your success. I believe in good and bad energy—what you put out, you get back in return.

Day to day, I work my tail off to be my clients’ favorite editor. If I can be in their list of best editors they’ve ever worked with, my relationship with them, and other clients in turn, will be more fulfilling.

And I believe this can go the other way around. The more fulfilling your relationship as an author with your editor(s), the smoother the process will be for the both of you, and you’ll be excited to work together then and in the future.

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A bored Weaver is a dangerous Weaver: ‘nother idjit/bad “editor” gets their red-penning red-penned.

What can I say? Someone posted a link on a writing forum, and I clicked on the link, and then I was appalled by the bad punctuation on a freelance editor’s web page… And if you’re been following my blog for a while, you know what that sort of thing leads to: I had one of my spies send a sample of writing (mine, so I can do whatever the hell I want with it, including using it to test idjits so-called editors who aren’t qualified to do the work and are making the rest of us look bad), and a few days later… Well, we’ll get to that in just a bit.  

It is my intention not to name names, unless the subject of this test makes that necessary by throwing a hissy-cow over me daring to question their “corrections” to the manuscript. I knew, before I sent anything, that there would be… issues. (Anyone who can’t get the punctuation right on their own web page is not likely to get it right elsewhere, and there were punctuation errors there, starting from the very first sentence.) It’s not good science, however, to draw a conclusion without first testing the hypothesis… 

This is not the first time I’ve conducted such an experiment, by the way. Last August, I sent a sample from what is now a published short story (“Solitude”) to a new freelance editor, because I wanted to see what would happen… (By the way, I invite any of my fellow Wielders of the Red Pen to do this to me: Send me a small sample of your writing, or that of an author who has given you permission to use it in this fashion, and have me prove my skills as a copyeditor. For that matter, I’m always on the lookout for copyeditors who work with genres outside my focus… Volunteer as a guinea pig, and you could end up with a few more clients sent your way.) If you want to read about that experiment, check out these blog posts:

“Sometimes, he rants about the occasional lack of professional skills from some of his so-called colleagues.”

“Sometimes, he just can’t wrap his mind around ‘corrections’ made to a manuscript.”

Now, the results from this time…

Opening lines from the sample:

“I’ve never understood why they call it cold iron.”

“Ask anyone who’s ever touched it.”

The “editor’s” comment on these sentences: Is this one person or two speaking? For one person, you only need one set of quotation marks. They indicated that the closing quotation mark after the second sentence should be deleted.

*rolls eyes so hard they almost fall out*

Um… Yeah. Don’t use two full sets of quotation marks if only one person is talking. Got that already. *sigh* There’s a reason why it’s standard to, y’know, begin a new paragraph when there’s a new speaker. That should have been a pretty good indication that two people are speaking there… And no, I’m not getting rid of the closing quotation mark after the second sentence. (If this were one speaker, and the dialogue was broken into two paragraphs anyway, the closing quotes after the first paragraph would be the ones to be left off.)

Next thing:

If he didn’t pay me so well, if professional pride weren’t involved, if I didn’t sometimes enjoy knowing what no one else knew…

“Editor” says: Three dependent clauses. As none of them are followed by an independent clause I would suggest using ellipsis instead of comma’s


Spelling the plural of comma with an apostrophe? Really? And this person is supposedly more qualified than I am to be an editor ’cause they have a piece of paper saying they studied literature in college? This is why we can’t have nice things… *gibbers for a couple of minutes* Also, it would not be correct or appropriate to replace the commas with ellipses. (Fun fact: the plural of ellipsis is ellipses. Any editor ought to know that.)

Where the hell is the comma that should be before I would suggest in that comment? Do not (incorrectly) lecture me about dependent clauses and then fail to punctuate them properly yourself, ‘kay?

Also, there’s a thing called an incomplete sentence. It shows up sometimes in first-person narration, especially in internal dialogue (character thoughts) in first-person narration, because people don’t always think in complete sentences. The lack of an independent clause in no way makes the incomplete sentence require ellipses instead of commas. (Sorry, but I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around this nonsense. I’ll try to be more coherent in my grammar-ninja outrage, but I make no promises.)


Like the poet said, if is a dangerous word.

The “editor” wants quotation marks around the indirect quote. This is wrong.


Too many people from back home, too many wide-eyed (and round-eared) tourists on their way up to Haefenspoint for the weekend, too many temptations to tell somebody what I’d just spent the last few months doing.  Again.  On the other hand, this was just about the only place where I could go and not be stared at, at least by half of the people.  This is the very Threshold of the Gate, after all, and travel goes both ways.  Maybe Terrans think Andover is too full of pointy-eared tourists on their way down to Portland for the weekend

“Editor” says: Repetition is overbearing here.

As that guy who once played a mapmaker in a totally different movie once said, “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.” The repetition is deliberate. (I sometimes find anaphora to be a useful and pleasant-sounding literary device.) A good editor will not demand changes to the narrative voice without providing a reason (as in, something reasonable, more than personal opinion) for the change.


My “finder’s curiosity”  had gotten me into far too much trouble in recent years.

“Editor” says: No need or quotation. Everyone knows you’re a finder.

First of all, I really, really don’t like it when someone addresses the author of a work of fiction as if the author were the narrating character. (This happened a lot with one of the critiques I got on another story featuring the same MC. The friend who got this sample edit for me happens to be female, like the MC, but I know that wouldn’t have made any difference. Male author of a story with a female lead? Of course the main character and the author are the same person… If you want to see where that came from, you can read the looonnnngggg ranty response to a nonsensical critique of my short story “Finder’s Fee” and see, among other things, my comments on the critiquer’s comments about “me.” I do warn you, however, that the whole thing is more than fifteen thousand words long. The bloggish tirade, I mean, not the short story. If you like my bloggish tirades, you’ll love that one, plus you may learn a thing or two about why the reader is not always right.)

Second, the quotation marks there are used to indicate so-called, and the “editor” (See what I’ve been doing?) says to get rid of them because everyone knows I’m a finder. *rolls eyes*


I thought about it.  I thought about it a lot, actually, argued and debated with myself and finally admitted that I was looking too hard for an excuse not to go.

This “editor” really, really hates repetition as a stylistic choice… So much for, “The style of a work is completely up to the author,” as this person says on their website. (Fun fact: respecting an author’s writing style means not trying to suck all the life and individuality out of the narrative voice.)


Besides, they’d been staring through the whole gods-damned voyage, hadn’t they, because they’d never seen an elf before, and they’d never seen dragon-kin before, and they didn’t know how to tell the gods-damned difference.

“Editor” highlighted hadn’t they and insisted that, because it’s a question, it must have a question mark after they.

I know questions embedded within non-question sentences are probably not the sort of thing most people learned in high school English class (even if they attended high school back when anyone bothered teaching punctuation and grammar), so let me quote for you what The Chicago Manual of Style says on this topic.

CMoS, 16th edition, section 6.52: “A question is sometimes included within another sentence either directly or indirectly — not as a quotation but as part of the sentence as a whole. A direct question (unless it comes at the beginning of the sentence), is usually introduced by a comma [emphasis added].”

That seems pretty straightforward, right? When there’s a question as part of a sentence, use a comma or commas to separate it. (If the embedded question comes at the end, use a comma before it and then end the sentence with a question mark, the way I did with the first sentence of this paragraph.)

Conclusion: Once again, we see evidence that someone decided to hang out their shingle as a freelance editor without knowing much about the things they claim to be an expert in. It’s no wonder so many authors think all freelance editors are incompetent.

Y’know what I’d like to do one of these days? Be able to report that another copyeditor is really, really good at this job. I’d like to be able to say, “If you’re looking for a freelance copyeditor who specializes in [some genre that I don’t deal with], I recommend [editor’s name], because they know their stuff.” That would be nice. (Hint: If you volunteer to be my guinea pig, I won’t say anything if you turn out to be a bit disappointing as an editor, and if you’re good, I’ll tell everyone who reads my blog.)



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