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IUHRYTR's Photo IUHRYTR Posts: 20,630
9/16/19 10:36 P

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Major errors occurred in "Tamarack County" by William Kent Krueger as his main character was introduced as Anne yet as soon as page 2 her name was spelled Annie. The dual spelling continued to seesaw throughout the book.

Didn't the writer read what he wrote? Where was the editor? Did anyone proofread his manuscript at all?

Lou


Edited by: IUHRYTR at: 9/16/2019 (22:37)
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9/16/19 10:30 P

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In Lisa Jackson's "Willing to Die" on page 268 she writes of two people waiting curbside at an airport for a relative.

"Standing a step behind Aunt Regan...

But, as their relative comes out of the airport terminal "...scurrying from the terminal where they were waiting, idling in Regan's Jeep."

So, were they standing or were they sitting inside the Jeep?

Additionally, every character, when they became defensive by what someone else said, either lifted their chin or jutted their chin. Every one, sometimes more than once.

Where was the editing?

Also, as with many other authors, Jackson too frequently used the lazy phrase "made her/his/their way." How about went, or forged, or headed, or another word?

Please, do not become lazy in your writing.

Lou

Edited by: IUHRYTR at: 9/16/2019 (22:31)
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9/16/19 10:09 P

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"Seeders" by A.J. Colucci has what to me is an excellent example of unclear writing, and editing.

On page 190 as it is written the main character is on a beach. "He'd watch the waves break white, hugging a blanket that was damp from the spray of the sea."

Here is what bothers me about that sentence:

First: were the waves hugging the blanket?

Second: the tenses change from "He'd (he would)" to a confusing present or future "hugging" a blanket.

This is how I would have rewritten it:

He'd watch the waves break white, as he hugged a blanket that was damp from the spray of the sea."

What do you think?

Lou

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8/9/19 6:23 P

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emoticon , Abby!

Lou

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8/9/19 11:02 A

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People in my office looked at me funny when I tried to cover my hands with my face.



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IUHRYTR's Photo IUHRYTR Posts: 20,630
7/23/19 9:45 P

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I have many examples for this topic to catch up on with you for insights into how to make your writing better. Here are some:

In "The Summoning" by Heather Graham, on page 162, the main character, Kristi, "...sank down on her bed, ..." but then later on the same page "Kristi sank down on her bed."

The editor messed up on that one.

In Jennifer Egan's "Manhattan Beach" the words "brought" and "bring" were used throughout instead of more properly "took" and "take."

She wrote that Eddie brought two sailors to a nightclub. But it should have been that Eddie took the sailors. Also, Dexter's son told him, "We brought it to Saint Maggies" when it should have read, "We took it..." Sparks, a ship radioman whose room is deep inside the ship, "brought a weather report to the Captain" instead of took the report. Finally, Anna held a mysterious letter that she brought outside, but should have been that she took the letter...

To me, from definitions I have read, nothing or no one can be brought somewhere. They can be taken, though. It would be correct, if Eddie, for example, was already at the nightclub, for him to say when asked that a taxi brought the sailors there but he had to take them not brought them.

By now, if you have read the entries posted here, you know I believe the over-use of any version of "step" as action is almost always used to describe too much action and should be deleted.

In "The First Wife" author Erica Spindler must have used "stepped" at least 20 times. I almost did not finish the book because of the irritation such frequent use caused.

Example: "Bailey cut off the shower, grabbed a towel and stepped out. As she dried herself, she caught sight of herself in the mirror..."

We know people leave a shower when they are finished so why not simply say, "Bailey cut off the shower and grabbed a towel. As she dried herself..." Or, instead of "she stepped inside" say "she went inside" or "once she was inside."

Our characters do not need every one of their actions documented. There is no reason to write, "She stepped from the car and walked to the elevator. When the doors opened, she stepped inside and pushed the button for the twelfth floor. Once there, she stepped into the hallway, found apartment number 10 and, with the borrowed key, opened the door and stepped inside."

Such writing is boring and redundant.

Hope these examples, and others to follow, help you in your writing.

Always on the lookout for Lazy Writing/Lazy Editing,

Lou

Edited by: IUHRYTR at: 8/9/2019 (18:22)
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6/26/19 3:44 P

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Sometimes I am moved to write authors about redundancies, errors, or inconsistencies in the books I read.

Here is the last email I sent, and the author's answer:

Dear Mr. Finder,

I recently read your book "Judgment." The plot was intriguing, the characters believable, and human.

There was one scene that confused the editor and writer in me, however. In Chapter 75, the fake janitor, Greaves, attacked Julianna in the parking garage elevator. She stabbed him, then ran in search for a police officer, "...her hair matted and damp, her blood-spattered clothes astray." (Page 352). Later, when an officer walked with her back to the elevator, which was then empty, she admitted killing the man yet the officer, even though he was nearing the end of his shift, merely told her to file a report, disregarding her appearance and her admission. He did ask her if she had been drinking or on any substances but took no further action. That, to me, a former deputy sheriff, seemed not to be believable.

Otherwise, an overall enjoyable story. Looking forward to reading another one of yours soon. Thank you.

Wishing you continued success.

Lewis Mattox
Orlando, Florida

Dear Lewis,

Thanks for reading so closely, and for taking the time to write. I'll have to take another look at those pages . . . you might be right, in which case I'll be dismayed that I lost track of this, and that nobody caught this in the editing process. Glad it didn't spoil the book for you.

Best wishes,

Joe Finder



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5/18/19 3:19 P

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I admit I tried this one but couldn't do it. emoticon

In J.D. Robb's "Leverage In Death" a paragraph begins: "She covered her hands with her face..."

The next paragraph: "She dropped her hands."

Obviously, at least to me, the first one should have read that she covered her face with her hands, but go ahead and have fun, give it a try and see if you can cover your hands with your face. emoticon

Lou

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4/30/19 12:05 P

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I'm behind on my examples of Lazy Writing/Lazy Editing.

Here is another example:

In "Judgment" by Joseph Finder, the main character is attacked, has blood on her clothes, and approaches a police officer who does not notice the blood. Strange.

"She wondered what she looked like to other people, her hair matted and damp, her blood-spattered clothes astray."

She met with an officer, told him she'd found a body and took him to the elevator where she had been attacked. "The man was dead," she said. "This is where he attacked me, in this elevator. I killed him in self-defense. This is the crime scene."

Because there was no body there the officer simply told her to file a report.

Say what?

Her hair is mussed, her clothes are in disarray, she has blood on her, she admits killing someone, and he only tells her to file a report?

And these authors praise their editors for the fine jobs they do.

Makes me laugh.

Remember, inconsistencies such as this one can be caught by careful proofing and editing.

Lou

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IUHRYTR's Photo IUHRYTR Posts: 20,630
11/20/18 8:26 P

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Catching up on several examples of Lazy Writing/Lazy Editing:

1. In "The Woman In Cabin 10" author Ruth Ware wrote of an action by the main character, "I clicked on mail and downloaded my emails, chewing my nails as they popped one by one into the in-box."

I despise having to stop reading and then to re-read a passage because it didn't make sense. With this one, my first thought was that she chewed her nails and pieces of the nails popped into her email's in-box. A better way of writing it, and to keep the tenses aligned (clicked vs. chewing), would have been, "As I chewed my nails, I clicked on mail, downloaded my emails, and watched them pop one by one into the in-box."

2. In Jimmy Buffett's "A Salty Piece of Land" there are several examples of Lazy Writing/Lazy Editing. First, he says a character was "...sitting on the deck of a salvage ship with his guitar, singing to the crew. He was standing on a stage that they had built..." Hmm, so was he sitting or standing? Can't do both at the same time.

Next, "...and Lafitte limped home on Ash Wednesday." Was Ash Wednesday a horse, a mule? Of course, it was the holiday but can you see how confusing this was?

Then, Mr. twain is a horse. "...Mr. twain, who could have cared less..." instead of the proper "could not have cared less."

3. In "Mary. Mary" James Patterson uses a phrase that drives me crazy and about which, with others, I'll post separately: "She was comfortable in her own skin." Versus who else's skin? Duh.

4. Richard A. Clarke had several examples of laziness in his "Sting Of The Drone." One was as he described a drone taking off: "...they watched the 737-sized drone lumber down the runway loaded up with both bombs and missiles." No, the drone was loaded with them, not the runway. Duh #2.

Also, "...sat down at the small table in Ray's office" followed two sentences later by "Ray walked from behind his desk to the small table..." We already knew it was a small table. The second "small" wasn't needed.

A third, he used variations of the same phrase -- "Bryce wanted to cool the conversation down" and later "...Ray said softly, trying to lower the temperature of the conversation." Once, maybe, but using a similar phrase a second time showed Lazy Writing/Lazy Editing.

Finally, inconsistency. At the bottom of one page "Winston Burrell slipped on his half glasses, balancing them near the tip of his nose" while in the next paragraph: "Winston Burrell slipped on his half glasses to read from the file."

There will be more examples of Lazy Writing/Lazy Editing posted later but if we pay attention to what we read we likely will come across many other illustrations of how frequently Lazy Writing/Lay Editing occurs.

Hope you enjoy these and other examples. They are posted so we all may learn from them, the better to sharpen our own writing.

Lou

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11/20/18 7:32 P

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I've read some insurance reports that made me emoticon .

Was curious about the difference between a sofa and a couch, although most of us probably use them interchangeably. Here is what Dictionary.com shows:

Sofa: A long, upholstered couch with a back and two arms or raised ends.

Couch: A piece of furniture for seating from two to four people, typically in the form of a bench with a back, sometimes having an armrest at one or each end, and partly or wholly upholstered and often fitted with springs, tailored cushions, skirts, etc.; sofa.

So different words, same meaning, but to use them both in the same paragraph seems to fall under Lazy Writing?Lazy Editing, doesn't it?

Lou

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MNLEONA's Photo MNLEONA Posts: 13,490
11/11/18 8:00 A

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I have not been reading the posts.

I attended a session at a local library about writing your family history last week. She gave us a list of prompts to use and I am finding it helpful. I really need to write about the family.

I have a lot of Clive Cussler books to read and now will have to look for the wordings.

I finished a book, The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb. She will be at my library the end of November. Not a big deal but I noticed she used the word "sofa" and the the word "couch" in the same paragraph.

Leona emoticon


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CD7601418 Posts: 1,569
11/9/18 4:22 P

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I used to have a list of errors from insurance companies. They were very funny to read. An example, "I glanced at my mother-in-law and drove over the embankment". emoticon

Edited by: CD7601418 at: 11/11/2018 (09:18)
IUHRYTR's Photo IUHRYTR Posts: 20,630
11/5/18 10:29 P

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I couldn't take it anymore. Stopped reading Cussler's book (see post below) half-way through and put two more of his in the donation/yard sale box, unread. Although his stories are enjoyable, his incessant use of versions of "stepped" and "made her/his/their way" finally drove me crazy.

The last book I finished reading was "The Fix" by David Baldacci. I enjoy his stories but he, also, fell prey to overusing versions of "stepped" -- "She stepped/he stepped" etc., and, too, overuses "shot" -- "He shot her a glance" etc.

But here is his Lazy Writing/Lazy Editing oops:

In describing a character he wrote "She had changed into slacks, a short-waisted jacket, and a white blouse with black boots."

I had to stop and laugh because I have never seen a blouse that had boots. (Think about it. emoticon )

This could have easily been avoided by writing "She had changed into black boots, slacks, and a short-waisted jacket over a white blouse."

Often, describing clothing from the bottom up or from the top down works well and does not lead to confusion such a blouse with boots.

Lou

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9/13/18 12:15 A

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Famous mystery author Clive Cussler writes exciting stories but loves to use two phrases that drive the editor and reader in me crazy and make me wonder if anyone is editing his manuscripts, or at least talking to him about these repetitions.

Phrase 1: "Made" his/her/their way
Phrase 2: "Stepped"

Both phrases are used too often, I believe, because he thinks he must describe every bit of action, which is not necessary.

"She made her way to the boathouse then quietly made her way around the corner." Come on, now, really, Clive? Couldn't she have gotten to the boathouse another way -- stole her way, approached, or simply walked to the boathouse then quietly turned the corner. So easy, isn't it, Mr. Cussler?

Fellow teammates, use this as a writing exercise. How many ways can you create for someone to get to the boathouse then get around the corner?

Now for "step." I've mentioned this one before. Drives me crazy. Here are two examples from "The Navigator" he wrote with Paul Kemprecos:

Two of the main characters are getting out of an elevator. "The doors (of the elevator) opened, and they stepped out into the lobby..."

It could have been written, "The doors opened and Carina looked around the atrium of the lobby, with its waterfalls..."

On the next page they got back into the elevator (I guess in the building with 2,000 employees it magically waited just for them, duh) and took it to another floor where, "They stepped out into a thickly carpeted corridor and followed it to an unmarked door."

Easier on the eyes, I suggest, would be, "They took another elevator to a different floor. The doors opened to reveal a thickly carpeted corridor which they followed to an unmarked door."

Again, as an exercise, how could you rewrite the book's phrase without using "stepped"?

The point here is to be diligent when you proofread what you write. Be on the lookout for repetitive phrases such as the two discussed here.

Best of success in your writing. emoticon

Lou

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7/9/18 3:55 P

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In "The Widow's Strike" by Brad Taylor there is this sentence in Chapter 10:

"I tried the door and saw it was unlocked."

How could the character "see" it was unlocked if trying the door normally would mean he turned the doorknob?

After trying the door he could have "found" the door was unlocked but he could not "see" that it was.

Another example of what we need to beware of in our writing.

Lou

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6/27/18 7:40 P

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In Atlantis Found by Clive Cussler, and in The Marauders by Tom Cooper, each author used a version of "step" perhaps 30 times. Excessive. "Stepped out of the elevator" "stepped into the apartment" "stepped quietly"...

While both plots were engaging, the overuse of the "stepping" and "stepped"...drove me crazy. Talk about poor writing and editing!

Also, in Cussler's book, Dirk Pitt, the main character, on one page holds a gun to the left side of a bad guy's face but on the next page he has it on the guy's right side with no explanation that Pitt had changed his location.

More poor lazy writing/lazy editing!

Be aware of overuse of any phrase in your writing.

Lou

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IUHRYTR's Photo IUHRYTR Posts: 20,630
2/18/18 8:26 P

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Front page headline in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper last week announcing the city's police chief running for county mayor when the article was about the chief's running for county sheriff, and there was no follow-up correction run. Duh.

Lou

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IUHRYTR's Photo IUHRYTR Posts: 20,630
10/20/17 10:56 A

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In her book "Walleye Junction" author Karin Salvalaggio, whose stories I enjoy, even if she does use 'made a face' too often, explains changes she and her boyfriend will need to make if she and her two-and-a-half-year-old son move in with the boyfriend.

She writes: "Luke (the son) couldn't be left on his own. They (she and the boyfriend) wouldn't be able to go to Murphy's Tavern until two in the morning."

When I first read this, I thought she meant she and the boyfriend would have to wait until two o'clock to go to the tavern but that didn't make sense to leave the boy alone.

Better may have been to write, perhaps, "They would no longer be able to go Murphy's Tavern together and stay until two in the morning because Luke couldn't be left on his own."

Lou

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7/3/17 11:43 A

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The opinion/correct thing I don't get either. It's an opinion! Just because you agree doesn't mean it's correct.

As for the 110 percent - I'm okay with hyperboles.



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IUHRYTR's Photo IUHRYTR Posts: 20,630
6/29/17 10:11 A

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This morning, in a guest editorial in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, a writer reports opinions of two scientists then says their opinions "could not be more correct."

It seems to me that if their opinions are correct, then they are correct. How could they be "more correct?

Isn't that like saying you agree with someone 110 percent? Wait, isn't agreeing with someone 100 percent the same as totally, fully agreeing?

Lazy writing, to me.

Lou

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6/21/17 11:20 A

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I don't know if I've heard pulled a face.

I have shot looks before.

And had a heart thud, but only in a first draft. And, actually, you've never felt your heart thud in your head? Like, a heavy pulse?



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IUHRYTR's Photo IUHRYTR Posts: 20,630
6/20/17 8:24 P

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Commonly used lazy phrases ~~ in my opinion:

* Pulled a face

* Shot her or him a look

* His or her heart thudded in his or her chest (where else would it thud)

Lou

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6/6/17 10:27 A

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From the Orlando (Florida) Sentinel newspaper last week in an article about the sentencing of a man who killed a woman by beating her:

"about her head."

Does that include her shoulders or "air beats around her head" but not actually hitting her?

Lou



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6/6/17 10:01 A

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I am trying to read Tailspin, a mystery by Catherine Coulter. but think I may stop before finishing. Her style in this one is driving me nuts, crazy, insane.

How can someone "straighten" a bowl on table? emoticon

How often in real life do adults, especially, toughened FBI agents say, "Oh, yes..." emoticon

We know a "little girl" was run over and killed. Do we need to read the phrase "the little girl that was run over and killed" repeatedly, even three times by one speaker in one paragraph?

There is so much more wrong with this book. Oh, yes, (smile), there is. I am not going to finish it, oh my. emoticon

Lou

Edited by: IUHRYTR at: 6/6/2017 (10:03)
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4/12/17 9:47 A

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I'm on a goodreads board and a woman is posting excerpts from her book to entice us to vote for it in a Kindle Scout program. Every time I read something, I'm like, oh, honey. No.

I'm not sure whether her run-on sentences or overzealous use of he and she bothers me more.



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4/10/17 12:38 P

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If you ever want to be amused by the foibles of grammar, spelling, et al., check out The Underground Grammarian:

www.sourcetext.com/grammarian/

Richard Mitchell is gone now, alas, but his edgy grammar-police approach lives on... emoticon



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4/10/17 9:52 A

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The joke with our local paper is how many errors can you find in an article. And it's not just grammar and punctuation. Sometimes it's facts. It's awful.



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4/7/17 12:27 P

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Nah, not really. The publisher at one of the newspapers I worked for wasn't interested in investing in copy editors. His motto was "Today's paper, tomorrow's trash. I'm not wasting the money."

I think that attitude is a lot more prevalent than we'd like... O.o



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4/7/17 9:48 A

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hahahaha have any of them taking you up on that?



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4/6/17 12:52 P

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I have been known to write to authors and baldly say "You need me. You need a good, ruthless editor."

emoticon



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4/5/17 9:43 A

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...it could also be that you're now obsessing over it (see what I did there?) and any instance is now offensive. I've done that - I started finding instances of green eyes in a story every time the hero's eyes were mentioned. As for the wife, if the author had already used her name several times, maybe he was trying to avoid using it again.Not having read it, I'm just guessing.

I read a story once where I couldn't figure out if it was contemporary or historical. The back cover blurb didn't help. Both that and the first half-chapter were a character finding an old trunk in the attic that contained some of her grandmother's belongings. I finally decided it was a historical. Then the character went downstairs and wiped her hands on her jeans. I stopped reading.



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4/4/17 10:23 P

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Takes me back to my journalism days, Lou. You don't suppose she's being paid by the word--? 😄



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4/4/17 10:17 P

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Nice to hear from you again Kasey. You have been busy.

I will finish the Heather Graham book "Deadly Fate" I have started but it has been and will likely continue to be a chore.

She must have used the word 'over' twenty times so far, and it is driving me crazy. In one short paragraph, FBI agent Thor 'looked over' at his partner Jackson.

Every one of these could be eliminated, in my opinion, and would be if I had an editorial say in the matter.

'They walked over to the car' is another example. Couldn't they have simply walked to the car?

And on it goes. I expected more from a writer of her stature and experience.

Lou

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4/4/17 7:37 P

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Lou, this is one of my biggest pet peeves! And I agree with you, it's down to laziness, carelessness, and an "It's not worth my time" attitude.

I don't have any examples to hand* but as a general irk, at the top of my list is unclear antecedents.

Someone is discussing Jane, Mary, and Anne. The speaker says "Jane asked Mary and Anne to go with her, but she said she couldn't. Then she rescheduled it for another time."

Huh? That's an exaggerated example, but it's the kind of roadblock that annoys me no end. If you disrupt the flow of your narrative often enough, sooner or later the reader might well decide to take a detour.

If I look back up the page to reread a sentence, I want it to be for the beauty of the phrasing, not to puzzle out who said what to whom. Argh.

*I don't have any examples to hand because I haven't had much time to read lately, at least not casual reading. I've spent most of my time researching and writing. knew this when I signed up for it, but I've learned my lesson. I started a history class in January and a writing class in March. I knew they would overlap by about two weeks. I honestly don't know how I ever went to school and took four or five classes per semester, because these two weeks I've been tearing my hair out. I've gotten nothing done BUT the classwork. The plus side is I've gotten it done, and I've learned not to overlap classes; the downside is I don't feel like I have the mental edge I once had.

I would like to think I'm a more meticulous student, though. emoticon

Edited by: KASEYCOFF at: 4/4/2017 (19:39)

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4/3/17 9:01 P

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I cannot tolerate lazy writing and lazy editing. Here are several examples to get the conversation started:

"Pirate" by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell -- In the first chapters, the main male character "looked over at his wife" three different times.

Come on, we know she is his wife. Why did the writers and editor feel readers needed to be constantly reminded of the fact?

"Over" itself seems to me to be overused. "She walked 'over' to the table." (Is that better than "She walked to the table.")? Notice more examples as you read and ask yourself if "over" was truly needed.
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"Dark Road Home" by Anna Carlisle -- "Gin was helping her mother make red, white, and blue crepe-paper starbursts to decorate the porch when Tom and Christine arrived. Her fingertips were blue with the dye from the paper when they walked in the door."

My first reaction when I read this was that Christine's fingertips were blue and I wondered when she had helped make the starbursts, since her name was closest to 'Her.' I had to reread the passage to understand the author meant Gin. Instead of writing "Her..." wouldn't it better clarified who was who if it had been written "Gin's fingertips were..."?
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"The Unspoken" by Heather Graham" -- Dirk Manning is a male character, Kat is a female one. "Manning had been nervous about the whole idea but she and Sean had managed to reassure him."

Doesn't it seem that "she" refers to Manning, a male character? Instead, it refers to Kat who is mentioned in the previous paragraph.

I believe when a writer makes a reader stop and reread a section as a result of confusion, the writer, and the editor, has committed lazy writing, and lazy editing.

More examples to follow.

What are your thoughts? What irritates you about writing styles?

Lou

Experienced Editor/Published Writer


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