Monday, September 24, 2012

The Write Way

In the current Fall Issue of CapeWomenOnline magazine, I debut my new writing column, entitled "The Write Way." (My publisher named it, so don't give me grief.)

I'm the editor of the magazine, and I do freelance editing on the side, and the publisher thought it might make for an interesting regular feature. I remain skeptical, because really, the only people who appreciate editors are authors who are in the midst of the editing process. Well, once the authors are done cursing and moaning, then they are appreciative. Usually.

In my first column ("Commas Save Lives") I talk about the importance of editors, proper punctuation, and why you shouldn't rely only on your computer's spell check program. And I ask for questions from readers - what is something you'd like to know about editing? Or punctuation? Or word usage?

I'd also love to hear from other editors - what are some of the biggest mistakes you've had to catch and correct? I've read that editors of romance novels frequently have to make sure that there aren't too many hands in a scene ("he hugged her tightly to his chest to comfort her, while caressing her cheek and dialing 9-1-1 on his cell phone.."...?), or double checking that body parts can move the ways in which the writer describes, without the character being a cast member from Cirque de Soleil...

Over the weekend I got into quite the email discussion with a friend over "past" versus "passed" - mistakes like these annoy readers and make them focus on the words instead of the story, as it did with my friend. As a reader I run across things like this all the time, as well as minor copy edit mistakes (words that push together without a space between, unclear dialogue tags, run-on dialogue without paragraph breaks...)

Do editing mistakes bother the average reader as much as they bug me? As a writer, what's the worst mistake that an editor saved you from making? Please weigh in - and if you have an editing question, you can leave it here in the comments, or send me an email at:
Katie @ 
(just take out the spaces, obviously.)

And thanks for your help!


  1. This is such a timely post since I've just finished the back and forth editing process with my editor. I have an enormous comma allergy that drives everyone crazy!

    1. Comma allergy? As in you're allergic to using them? Or you sneeze them out all over the page? ;-)

      Did you enjoy the editing process? (Aside from the commas?)

  2. I love good literature and cringe at poor grammar, missed punctuation. I believe it's useless to correct the spoken word of the new adults. I have quit cringing at the sound of "Tim and me went to the store." My insides don't like it, though.

    1. I agree with you that speaking, texting and emails have all become uber-cringe worthy as of late - but shouldn't there be a line in the sand when it comes to the published word?

  3. Well, once the authors are done cursing and moaning, then they are appreciative. Usually. - great line

    I'm currently try to teach myself the difference between into and in to as well as lay vs lie. I'm dying...

    1. Both tricky things to learn - good luck ;-)
      One trick I learned from Writers Digest (of all places) is that "into" answers the question "where?" (because into denotes movement.)
      "in to" works if you can change it to "in order to" and have the sentence still make sense.
      hope that helps ;-)


Go ahead - leave a comment! You know you want to! But don't be Anonymous - that'll just get you deleted. And who wants that?