Why I Do What I Do

In case you missed it from the weekend, the Ottawa Citizen ran a great piece on the inverse relationship between how much people write and how well they write. With the omnipresence of blogging, e-mailing, texting, and IM’ing, some argue that the written word has become a disposable commodity, quality be damned. It’s one of … Continue reading

What to Capitalize

Improperly capitalizing nouns is one of the most common errors I come across. Just because a word is important or distinctive doesn’t mean it should be capitalized. Only proper nouns—those that name specific people, places, and things*—are capitalized. Sounds easy, right? Dig on the errors (in italics) I’ve come across in the past week: Don’t … Continue reading

The Danger of the Thesaurus

There’s a forensic element to editing. Sometimes I’ll come across a word that technically works in a sentence, but has an imperfect tone or imprecise meaning. (For example: After the mentoring program, participants find themselves entangled in lifelong friendships.) But I don’t like to make changes willy-nilly, so I investigate why the writer has used … Continue reading

Good Writing

If my writing philosophy can be summed up with one phrase, it would be: Good writing moves forward, and poor writing jumps forward and back. What this means, in a nutshell, is that strong writing is so smooth and efficient that the reader never has to refer backward in a sentence or paragraph to fish … Continue reading

A Note About Perspective

I regularly edit pieces by writers who stretch to make their subjects seem more important or popular than they actually are. The result is trends that are “the hottest yet,” parts of organizations that are “the most crucial” and bands that are “revolutionizing the sound.” (The same is obviously true with pejorative characterizations.) It often … Continue reading