From the Editor's Desk
Top Three Re-Writing Tips
you master nothing else, master these.
Use active voice
voice is used to make writing dull.” (You inform of action without having to
know who did it.)
dehumanizes writing by eliminating people.
voice can work for variety or to emphasize passivity, but it saps writing of
subject does the action rather than receiving the action.
trained vs. he was trained.
usually has form of “to be” +
was coerced; thieves coerced her.
winners were announced; the president announced the winners.
Use strong verbs
should make up 10% of your writing.
forms of “to be.”
not “is in opposition”
not “was adamant”
Hebrew allow sentences w/out “is.”
[is] the man who... (Psa 1)
“be” . . . Or not
part of editing, run “search” on be, is, are, am, was, were, being.
progressives to simple
was brewing coffee; I brewed coffee.
was going to work; I went to work.
was going for a walk; I took a walk.
was dancing; Maria danced.
was not aware = He was unaware or he was clueless.
don’t want you to go = I want you to stay.
experienced no peace = We felt constant turmoil.
was no wind; the air stood still.
assertions, nix negations
mind takes 48% longer to process a negation.
no, not, don’t, can’t when possible.
was not possible; it was impossible.
was not happy; she felt unhappy; she frowned.
these words when writing:
cute, gorgeous, terribly, incredible, awfully, absolutely, and awesome
subjective, imprecise and overused
most persuasive words
Be concrete, specific
car or my Jaguar?
or Chanel No. 5?
Save the strongest . . .
for the end of the paragraph
for the end of the sentence.
want to bring hope to each person.
want to bring each person hope.
like to welcome you. (Okay, go ahead.)
think it was a tough slope. (It was.)
Overuse of Couplets
felt joy and peace.
is able to guide and protect us.
hotel has simple and basic accommodations.
Using Numbers . . .
Ways to Improve Your Income
Ten Commandments of Youth Work
use numbers with associations
One, Two, Three’s of Teaching
Steps to Sales Success
Perfect Reasons to Buy
in a Series
a series, go for odd numbers of items.
went to the door, saw the burglar, ran for the phone, called the police, and hid
under the bed.
came, I saw, I conquered.
using too many statistics at one time
of saying 80% of moms return to work when the youngest enters school, say four
out of five.
the two seconds it took you to read this, four women have given birth.
preposition is a bad thing to end a sentence with.
fragments - sometimes okay.
to never split infinitives.
it’s okay to begin with “and,” and “but.”
dangling, watch your participles.
turn white as a sheet and my skin crawls when I see someone use a cliché,
perish the thought.
for only one prepositional phrase in a sentence.
mood = wishes, dreams, things unlikely to happen
in a publication I saw:
well-adjusted person is the one who can play bridge or golf as if it was a game.
semi-colons; they separate independent clauses.
colons after independent clauses for the following: listing people, places, or
period goes inside the quotes, even if it’s just one word:
it and mark it with a “b.”
is, unless you are publishing in
it and mark it with a “b”.
starting a sentence with “and”
Mr. Buckley, Don’t start a sentence with “and.” In the last paragraph of
your column I see this, and apparently the Star-Ledger proofreader did
not. (She sleeps a lot.) I am beginning to wonder just how good (or bad) your
high school was, and how good (or bad) a student you were. Very truly yours,
—Buckley: The Right Word, p. 10
Mr. Dearborn: Verses 2-26 and 28-31, Chapter I, Genesis, all begin with
“And.” The King James scholars went to pretty good high schools. Cordially,
using more than two commas per sentence.
the number of commas helps you avoid saying too many things at once.
also helps prevent overuse of adjectives.
the adverb near the verb it modifies:
–Send out the children, rather than
the children out
began, he started
two words prepare the reader for an interruption. “They started to eat
breakfast, but the phone rang.
began to mow, but the neighbor stopped him.
to delete “manage”
“manage” for supervising. We often use it to mean “succeeded after some
I managed to get out of the car.
I managed to finish my story.
I managed an office full of employees.
Well That Ends Well
within word count limits!
full circle, if possible.
no stories unfinished.
Back Where You Started
the story lede back to the conclusion.
it in the middle, too, if you can.
Which do you like better at Christmas? To deliver a gift or receive one?
This Christmas when it’s time to pass around the gifts, volunteer to act as
Santa. In your role as the jolly gift-giver, take the time to enjoy the
expression on the receiver’s face.
Format Your Manuscript
clip; never staple
fewer than four pages: business envelope
four or more pages, mail flat
with a cover letter
You’re Outdated if…
use hyphens for bullets
use hyphens for m- and n-dashes
use 12-point type
WRITE IN ALL CAPS
use straight quotes (feet, inches) '
instead of real quotes ‘
hit “enter” twice to mark a new paragraph
use two spaces after your punctuation.
keys to strong writing
Let the reader discover
“he felt happy” with signs that show happiness—he smiled, he
laughed, he cheered.
of saying “She’s rude,” say “She belched, she swore, she gestured in
“The adverb is the enemy of the verb.” —Mark
flag spots where we need stronger verbs and/or beats.
see the problem,” she said confidently.
She held her head high. “I see the problem.”
you change master’s-level writing to the ninth or tenth-grade level, 111
million adults (nearly five times as
many) can read it.
so by keeping a low average number of syllables per word.
a communication to
a tendency to …
is . . .
Weak sentence structure, especially at the beginning of the lede
- weak, too
remember . . .
saying you remember. Say what you remember.
I remember that when I was a kid I flew kites with Dad.
When I was a kid, I flew kites with Dad.
that sometimes what you write is good, but unappreciated:
play was a success; the audience, a failure.”
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