Tag Archives: Proofreading

New Beginnings

26 Aug

Life is calming down and allowing me to retrain my focus here. In September, I will relocate to South Carolina. I plan to make my editing company a full-time venture, which means you will see a lot more of me around here. No longer will I need to divide my attention between teaching, editing, and nannying. YAY!

With this change comes a new series of posts I will add periodically. I’m calling them pro-tips. They’re along the same lines as my self-editing tips, but shorter, grab-and-go solutions to common problems. I decided to move away from the self-editing tips series because I felt that I covered most of the grammar basics already. Short of writing a grammar text book, it’s all here. I hope the pro-tips take on a new, more useful life than the self-editing tips by touching on more real-world writing topics that go beyond just grammar and mechanics. Three tips a week is the goal, but in this time of transition, no promises yet.

For now, that’s all the big news I have, but I’ll be sure to update often. Thanks for listening.

Happy writing!

Mandy Marsico

-Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

Self-Editing Tip #25–Those Confusing Verbs

10 Apr

Welcome back, everyone! It’s been a while. Today’s tip focuses on these confusing verbs: lie, lay, sit, set, rise, and raise. I am guilty of using these words in the wrong context on occasion. They can get very tricky because of their similar meanings and frequent misuse in colloquial speech.

Perhaps the trickiest on the list is the lie/lay distinction, so we’ll tackle that first.

The word lie, at least in the context of this discussion, means to rest or recline. “Lay” means to place or put. Before considering the rest of your sentence, determine which you are trying to say. Did x, y, or z rest or recline? If so, this is the word you’ll use. If not, lay is probably the right choice, but don’t get these mixed up when writing or speaking in the past tense.

Here’s a chart to clarify before we go on. Notice how “lay” is the past tense of “lie” as well as the present tense of “lay.” This is why it is critical to pinpoint from the start which verb you need to use.

Lie-Lay chart

One way to determine which word is appropriate for your sentence is to look for a direct object in the sentence. The direct object answers what is receiving the action of the verb in a sentence. In a sentence WITHOUT a direct object, you will always use “lie/(is) lying/lay.” In a sentence WITH a direct object, you will always use “lay/(is) laying/laid.” When considering direct objects, remember that they will never be within a prepositional phrase.

Ex. “The book is lying on the table.” There is no direct object in this sentence. “The table” is located within a prepositional phrase and does not count as a direct object.
Ex. “Lay the book on the table.” “The book” is the direct object in this sentence because it answers what is laid on the table.

The remaining pairs, Sit/Set and Rise/Raise follow the same pattern of rules as Lie/Lay.
Here’s another chart.

Sit-Set Rise-Raise Chart

For “sit” and “rise,” follow the same pattern as “lie.” These words do not take a direct object in their sentences.
Ex. “Sit down on the chair.” There is no direct object because “the chair” is within a prepositional phrase.
Ex. “Set the book down on the chair.” “Book” is the direct object because it is receiving the action of the verb “set.” “Chair” is still part of a prepositional phrase.
Ex. “I rise from bed at six.” There is no direct object because “bed” is within a prepositional phrase.
Ex. “Raise the curtains when you get out of bed.” “Curtains” are the direct object because it describes what is receiving the action of the verb “raise.” “Bed” is still within a prepositional phrase.

So, to determine which word is appropriate for your sentence, consider the nuances in definition of the two words in the pair, and then search for direct objects and prepositional phrases.
Here’s a quick reference chart for using these words.

No DO Yes DO Chart

With these distinctions in mind, I wish you happy writing! Comment or email with questions or anything you’d like to add to the discussion.

–Amanda Marsico
Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com
http://www.facebook.com/marsicowritesite
https://twitter.com/MarsWriteSite
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/amanda-marsico/7b/ab8/b/

Self-Editing Tip #24–Cliches

19 Sep

The most basic definition of a cliché that I can give you is this: A cliché is any phrase that is so overused, hackneyed, and tossed about carelessly that it has lost all the power its meaning once had. Like I said, that’s a basic definition. Entire situations, settings, and plots can be cliché as well.

Give it the cliché test–When you read it, try to imagine the profundity and impact it made the very first time it was ever put on paper. If it doesn’t seem all that special anymore, it’s probably a cliché. If you groan when you hear it, it’s probably a cliché. If you lose faith in the originality of an author simply for its inclusion in the text, it’s probably a cliché. Or, you could also just go to this website and see if the phrase is on the list.

Phrase Examples:

  • “All over the map”
  • “Axe to grind”
  • “Fan the flames”
  • “Nice guys finish last.”
  • “Pay the piper”
  • “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

There are an abundance of clichés, but don’t forget that it’s not just what is said, but where it takes place and how that can make a reader want to put the text away.

Plot Examples:

  • Love triangle
  • Supernatural/fantasy creatures
    • Think about how innovative Tolkien’s creations were. He was on of the first true fantasy writers. Now think about what you see as soon as you walk into the book store—hundreds of teen fantasy books that differ only slightly. Even the covers look the same (check out BuzzFeed’s 19 Book Cover Cliches).
    • Bad guy change of heart
    • Break-up aftermath

This list could get extensive as well. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s hard to be totally original in plot creation, and there’s a good reason for it. We all write from and about the human condition and experience (whether our characters are human or not). Because we are human, these are the ideas that inform our creative process. In addition, there are only a fixed number of character interactions possible to create a plot. Carlo Gozzi and Georges Polti were creators of the list of 36 Dramatic Situations. So, most plots are cliché because there really is not a way to be totally original in our time. If you take something that is written about countless times, it might be boring, or it might not. It’s up to you. What makes it cliché is that the plot follows the same predictable path of unfolding events. Change things up and you’re set.

Happy writing!

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/marsicowritesite

https://twitter.com/MarsWriteSite

www.linkedin.com/pub/amanda-marsico/7b/ab8/b/

http://pinterest.com/wordsnsounds/

Self-Editing Tip #23–Taking a Step Back

13 Sep

Even editors need an editor sometime. AND IT’S OK. Don’t think of it as an admission of imperfection or as a sign of incapability to improve your own writing. The reality is that after working on your own project for a considerable amount of time, it becomes nearly impossible to see certain mistakes. After reading through a 300-page manuscript three times, you know what you’re trying to say. That doesn’t mean the writing makes the point so clear. It’s OK to need an outsider to say, “Hey, that section isn’t very cohesive,” or, “I don’t think you followed through with that thought.”

So, it doesn’t matter how great of an editor of other people’s work you are—you can’t always be that great editor for your own work. Yes, do your self-editing, do your grammar checks, spell checks, typo checks. Yes, try to make sure you tie up all the loose ends, the Chekhov guns and Red Herrings. But don’t get your pride hurt for realizing you need a second, third, fourth reader to make sure you’ve found all the missteps. Besides, what aspiring writer would ever turn down valuable input from the people that could one day become a paying audience?

Take a step back and enjoy what your writing has become.

P.S. It’s OK to get help.

 

Happy editing!

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/marsicowritesite

https://twitter.com/MarsWriteSite

www.linkedin.com/pub/amanda-marsico/7b/ab8/b/

http://pinterest.com/wordsnsounds/

Self-Editing Tip #22– Commonly Misused/Misspelled Words 2.0

10 Sep

I’m releasing list 2.0 of English’s commonly misused and misspelled words. There are new words on the list for your reference. As always, if you know of any that I’ve left out that REALLY drive you nuts, leave a comment below with the words you’d like me to include when I make list 3.0.

Look at this list of words. Do you know the proper usages?

  • Choose-present tense verb/Chose-past tense verb
  • Loose-adjective/Lose-verb
  • They’re-contraction for “They are”/Their-shows possession of something for more than one person simultaneously/There-points out a place
  • You’re-contraction for “You are”/Your-shows possession
  • To-preposition/Too-adjective/Two-noun, the number
  • Effect-noun/Affect-verb
  • Dessert-what you eat/Desert-where there’s sand
  • Edition-one of a series/Addition-the result of increasing amount or quantity
  • Setup-noun, “The whole thing was a setup, a scam!”/Set Up-verb, “Please set up those folding chairs.”
  • Backup-noun, “Do a full backup of the computer just in case.”/Back Up-verb, “Back up the computer just in case.”
  • Ad-advertisement/Add-addition
  • A lot-This is two words. Always.

NEW EDITIONS as of 9/10/13

  • Breathe-verb/Breath-noun
  • Dose-noun, “A dose of this medicine should make your headache go away.”/ Does-noun, plural of Doe (female deer), “The car almost hit the does.” Verb-third person singular present of Do, “What does the letter say?”
  • Conscience-noun, that part of you that guides morals and inner thought, “My conscience tells me this is wrong.” / Conscious-adjective, having the fully active mental faculties, or being aware of one’s existence, “The patient finally was conscious after three months in a coma, .” OR “He was conscious of his friends’ feelings, so he kept his mouth shut.”
  • The Reese’s Minis Commercial Controversy- Popable vs. Poppable- in order to pronounce the word with the short “o” sound, there must be a double consonant, “p” in this case. However, in this instance, I haven’t found a single dictionary that acknowledges this word with either spelling. The only way to make “popable” correct would be to place a hyphen in there: “pop-able.” Spell check even suggests the hyphenated form when the other two spellings are used. *Side note: does it bother anyone else that huge companies are making mistakes in national (maybe even international) ad campaigns? No one in the company looked at that spelling and pronounced it like “pope?”

Reeses

This list could go on forever. Additions are imminent.

Originally posted to WordPress and Facebook 7/30/13

Happy spelling!

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/marsicowritesite

https://twitter.com/MarsWriteSite

www.linkedin.com/pub/amanda-marsico/7b/ab8/b/

http://pinterest.com/wordsnsounds/

Self-Editing Tip #21–The Known-New Contract

28 Aug

In keeping with our composition-related topics this week, we’re going to talk about the known-knew contract. Simply put, this states that you give readers a little bit of what they already know as clarification, reiteration, or summary in order to lead in new material. It’s a way to keep the text cohesive by relating it back to what you’ve already stated. This principle is generally taught in relation to academic writing, but I’ve always thought it applies to every type of text (except poetry).

In its originally intended use, the essay, you’d put this to work by grabbing bits of your introduction statements, or details from previous body paragraphs, to clarify and link the new points you make as you move forward.

Ex. Known-New at paragraph level (bold type = known, underlined = new)

Thesis: Solar panels are the future of energy efficiency.

Paragraph 1—a fact is stated: Solar panels are efficient because they reduce x, y, and z.

Paragraph 3—remind readers of the fact to lead in a new idea: Since solar panels reduce x, y, and z, advocates of green living are pushing for tax incentives for those who purchase panels for their homes.

In business writing, this is especially important. Consider a project proposal or summary with lots of technical jargon. Those documents are meant to make a very specific type of (often persuasive) statement. It’s the known-new contract that helps a writer make sure the reader walks away remembering the most relevant points.

Ex. Known-New at sentence level and paragraph level (bold type = known, underlined = new)

Proposal Topic: New Ad Campaign

Paragraph 1—proposal for ad campaign: We propose a new ad campaign for television. A television campaign will increase our company’s exposure to potential customers by 60%.

Paragraph 2—supporting facts: Increasing our exposure by 60% will cost us $x in resources with a potential $x profit.

In fiction, you must remember your audience. If the story is geared towards younger readers, the action of linking previous plot details to the new ones is more important than stories for older readers. The reading skill of tying events together to get that “Oh, I see what just happened,” moment develops with age. Plainly stated, the little ones need the writer to connect the dots for them more often than teens, and teens more often than adults. Don’t insult your audience’s intelligence by including too many breadcrumbs back to the “known.”

Ex. Known-New at chapter/plot level (bold type = known, underlined = new)

Chapter 4—“Melissa, did I tell you about that guy I met at the mall yesterday?”

Chapter 6—“Chris, the guy from the mall, never called.”

There’s a fine balance to strike in order to make a cohesive story that isn’t redundant or dumbed down. It takes practice. Ask yourself, “If I don’t restate this point in some way, will my audience forget about it/no longer understand the text as a whole/fail to put together a key dramatic moment meant to coalesce in this moment?

 

Happy writing!

 

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/marsicowritesite

https://twitter.com/MarsWriteSite

http://pinterest.com/wordsnsounds/

Self-Editing Tip #19–Chekhov’s Gun

23 Aug

Ever read something and wondered, “Why did the writer even bring that up?” or “So what?” or “What happened to that (x, y, z)…?” Ever write something and then never address that point again?

That’s basically what Chekov’s Gun is all about—everything that’s written better be worth the space it takes up in the text. It needs to have a purpose.

The great dramatist Anton Chekhov once said, “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there” (Valentine 1987).

I’m sure you could use the gun for something else. Maybe you take it off the wall and beat somebody with it. Maybe you take it off the wall and sell it for train ticket money. Who knows? The point is, if you’ve made the effort to point out some detail, readers are going to look for why it’s important. So, make sure it comes full circle, that you get back around to that detail in some way, and that it’s important!

Here is a long list of Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature that effectively uses Chekhov’s Gun to bring details full circle. Use your own reading experience when judging the accuracy of this list, because I have not read many of the novels included.

Next week, we’ll dig into some Red Herring! Hint: it’s not a fish 😉 Until then, have a great weekend with lots of purposeful writing and happy reading!

 

–Amanda Marsico

Editor, Proofreader, Red Ink Enthusiast

marsicoam@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/marsicowritesite

https://twitter.com/MarsWriteSite

http://pinterest.com/wordsnsounds/

 

Source: Valentine, Bill T. Chekhov: The Silent Voice of Freedom. 1987. Philosophical Library. Print.

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