Close but Not Quite

I always enjoy reading the After Deadline blog in The New York Times. The weekly posts reflect on matters of style and usage, and are adapted from a weekly newsroom critique overseen by the associate managing editor for standards at The Times. I’m less interested in the absolute rules of language than I am in the gray areas, and in how […]

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The Bane of My Existence

The term “restrictive and nonrestrictive appositives” had been a splinter in my toe ever since I discovered that the grammatical constructions it describes have a name. Like many editors, I didn’t start out as a staff newspaper copyeditor, learning copyediting with red pen in hand. I was a writer before I was an editor (although any experienced writer will […]

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A Storify on Grammar and Usage

Here’s a link to a Storify chronicling an ACES chat on Twitter in which I participated. ACES is the American Copy Editors Society (I’m a member). I’ve attended two of their annual conferences and have enjoyed being a part of its growing contingent of freelance editors. Until we can all geek out in person again at next […]

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Finding the Sweet Spot in Descriptive Writing

Recently, I had the good fortune to hear author Stephen Kiernan speak about the craft of writing. He told us that when writing fiction, it’s important to find the sweet spot in descriptive writing by providing not too much and not too little description. Draw readers in by providing select details that begin to paint a picture in […]

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Stanley, Comma, Jill

Is Stanley a Bigamist?

If you Google “Is Stanley a Bigamist?”, you might find, like I did, a blog post exploring whether the actor Jason Sudeikis’s father, Stanley, was a bigamist. You might also find a smattering of reviews about romping British theater productions. No matter how much I love the alliterative quality of the words “Jason Sudeikis,” I’m not here to talk […]

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The Danger of Writers’ Conferences

Last weekend, I attended the League of Vermont Writers annual meeting in Burlington, VT. I drove up to the big city early Saturday morning in subzero temps, my VW GTI refusing to activate its heaters until I was halfway there. (I think the car would much rather live in L.A.) As I pulled into the parking […]

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