Friday, March 20, 2015

Dangle much?

I saw this on George Takei's Facebook feed, and just had to make a blog post about it. The sub-header on this photo is abysmal! Let's correct the word order so it reads the way it was intended: "After getting made fun of, thousands of women are going to dance with one lucky guy."

What's the problem? A dangling modifier: "After getting made fun of" is a modifier that tells why thousands of women are going to dance with one lucky guy. But the way this sentence is worded, it looks like the women were getting made fun of, and that's why they're dancing.

The headline has the right of it, though. The man was recorded dancing at a club and shamed online, and thousands of women saw his story on the internet and decided to host the dance party.

The sentence obviously doesn't work the way it was originally written, and just changing the word order doesn't help. So, for clarity's sake, we're going to pretend it was written like this: "Thousands of women are going to dance with one lucky guy after he was made fun of online." Or something like that.

Dance on!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Another blog post on the utility of editors

This article has some "very" good tips for cleaner writing!

Writers can usually remove well over half of the instances of "that" in their work, but it's insidious! Even the blog post has a few unneeded "thats," such as the one here:

I found this so helpful, that I thought I would share some of her insights.

I do like this analogy quite a bit:

"Good editors are like really talented makeup artists; they recognize and enhance your unique beauty, but don’t completely change the way you look."

That's the name of the game. The semicolon is used correctly in that sentence, but a later sentence in the same paragraph could use some tidying up:

"I don’t actually think she’s frustrated, she doesn’t act like it anyway, the title of this article was purely for comedic value."

An editor could go a few different directions on that one. What do you think?

The comments are interesting, too! One of the commentors pointed out one of the misused semicolons in the piece. Semicolons have many uses:

  • Joining two clauses that could stand alone
  • Separating serial parts of a sentence in situations where a comma could be confusing
  • Winking smiley faces

But when you're introducing examples, a colon should be used instead of a semicolon.

I wrote;
I grew up in a very small, rural town in Canada, where you rarely honked at other drivers other than as a friendly hello, but you often had to honk at a cow to get off the road.
Editor’s change;
I grew up in a tiny rural town in Canada, where you rarely honked at other drivers….
Both of the semicolons in the example above should be replaced with colons.

I adore editing! It's one of the things I can do to help make the world a slightly tidier place.