Fun Things to Do When You're an Editor

Friday, June 6, 2008

One of our favorites is correcting people's speech. Oh, not in the pedantic "it's were: subjunctive mood" way--rather in nonsensical, double-take-inducing way. It tells us whether they're paying attention.

For example, we often call people out for improper punctuation while they're speaking:

Friend: And so when I had my last biopsy...

We: You needed a comma between "so" and "when."

Friend: Excuse me?

We: Comma between "so" and "when."

Friend: I...I was speaking...

We: Misspeaking.

It won't win you many friends and likely will alienate those you already have, but we find it a blast.

3 comments:

Jacqueline Passey said...

I am on a quest to improve my writing and eliminate errors. Any suggestions for study material or exercises beyond reading _Elements of Style_?

The Editorial We said...

You'll have to be a bit more specific about what kind of writing you want to do--books? pamphlets? articles? caustic denunciations?

You've probably read it, but Orwell's 'Politics and the English Language' will polish your writing more than any style guide. http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

In fact, try to get ahold of as many of Orwell's essays as you can. Borges's essays are very good, too. Both are very concise and easy to read. They have something interesting to say and simply say it.

Jacqueline Passey said...

I want to be able to write correctly in general, regardless of the kind of writing. I'm worried not just about style but also about all the unwitting errors I am probably making in grammar, mechanics, and usage as well.

I just posted "An open invitation to Grammar Nazis" on my blog so hopefully that will help me find what I need to fix.

I will check out the sources you recommended.