Tips for the Trying Times That Test Us
Ron Lee, senior editor
Editors are some of the oddest people youd ever want to meet, so lets talk about Dave Barry. When he had a syndicated column, he sometimes wrote under the guise of Mr. Language Person. M.L.P. argued that apostrophes serve the purpose of warning readers that an S is coming. (Dave was mocking signs that you see along rural roads. Example: Melons 4 Sale.)
Sadly, even successful authors fall under the spell of the peripatetic apostrophe. So lets look at a few writing faux pas that, just between us, make an editor want to burn a Barry Manilow record.
Part I, avoid using even one of the following:
- Its as anything other than a contraction
- Each and every; first and foremost; once and for all; whether or not
- Actually, literally, or really
- Very as an intensifier. Also, very as a random word used to accompany a lonely noun (e.g. this very chair; his very life)
- True as a stray modifier placed in front of other random nouns (e.g. find true fulfillment)
- Just in any context other than just cause or God is just
- Sit down to talk. Some people talk while standing.
- In my own life or in your own life. If its your life, its your own. Likewise if its my life. Readers need no additional help in figuring this out.
Look for Part II, a rumored stem-winder, in our next e-newsletter.
Ron Lee is a six-letter name, total, and a senior editor who works on adult non-fiction, primarily for the WaterBrook imprint. He has been editing the work of other writers since January 1976, a queer habit that predates Americas bicentennial. A talked-about victim of male pattern baldness, Ron avoids walking along the shoulder of busy roadways on sunny days and insists the Kansas-like cranial condition is a plot hatched by leading sunglass manufacturers.