Discouraging Writing

It really is discouraging to read writing like the three examples below. I’m just going to paste and comment.

Members of the organization that have attended these conferences in the past know what a great learning experience the writer gets from attending.

  1. I just cut the sentence in more than half, but if you have the original, you’ll know who wrote this.
  2. Here’s my problem: “members” are not “thats.” A “member,” to my mind, should be a “who,” like so: Members of the organization who have attended these conferences in the past know what a great learning experience the writer gets from attending.

Specify length (example: full-length novels (this means over 80,000 words); short novels (under 80,000 words); novellas (under 50,000 words)

Yes, this is a fragment, and it’s totally acceptable because this is an item in a list. But what’s not acceptable is falling behind in your parenthesis count: Where’s that last parenthesis, hmm? (I saw that right away. Not to toot my own horn.)

Speaking of “not,” not to trample on the writer’s feelings, but you never put a colon after “for example,” “include,” “includes,” or “including.” I thought everybody knew that.

In addition to her work as a literary agent, she also has a new publishing imprint to work one-on-one with authors. where she acquires books that tell literary and compelling stories with a focus on writing about place.

Trust me, this is the way this looks.

First of all, folks, it’s one-to-one. Okay? One-on-one is a basketball strategy; it’s also an expression for having sex. In a business use, 1-2-1 is totally acceptable, and that’s actually my favorite way to express this concept–it’s short and impossible to misinterpret. I don’t like 1:1, which is architectural. Anyway, that’s not what really bothers me about this sentence.

What really bothers me about this sentence is the period after “authors.” What comes after “authors” is a sentence fragment, so what the writer plainly meant to do was put a comma after “authors.”

(Well, hang on. We have no idea of the frame of mind of this author when writing this horrible sentence. There are no excuses.)

Don’t go away, there’s more! That period (regardless of right or wrong) meant that the “W” in “where” should have been capitalized. But, it’s not. In my Word doc, there’s a red line under “where.” Which means we’re in what I call “red-line Word” territory, when Word is right (and that’s not always the case!) and saves your bacon.

That’s why this kind of sloppiness infuriates me. If I copy/paste into Word, the first thing I see is a red line. I go to investigate. Why didn’t these authors?

I am a professional editor, but, gimme a break! This is Editing 101. Who is so arrogant that he or she doesn’t take that last look? Many’s the time I’ve been grateful to Word!

Takeaway from this post: Use Word!

What horrible writing. You bet there’s more, but it’s past time to get on to other things!