Tag Archives: editing

Holt Uncensored on Empty Adverbs

freelance-writing-adviceI stumbled across this great article on Holt Uncensored about common writer mistakes. The entire piece is definitely worth a look, but the payoff for me was the section on what Holt calls “empty adverbs”.  There is nothing worse than reading something stuffed with these needless words. How many times have we all gone there with descriptions of things that are “completely” or “totally” something or other, an “absolutely” such and such?

The point of the empty words screed according to the Holt Uncensored post is not that you should cut these words out of everything you write, but that more often than not the words do the opposite of what they’re supposed to do–they make the sentence bland and trite rather than calling attention to something important.

The article gives some hilarious examples of wretched writing from famous authors including Dan “The Da Vinci Code” Brown. He also skewers People Magazine (rightly so!) for their flagrant abuses of the adverb.

I’d never read Holt Uncensored til I found this post, but I’m a fan now…

Not Getting Any Freelance Writing Gigs? Why Your Query Letter Sucks

If you aren’t getting any responses in spite of sending query letter after query letter, it’s time to examine the root causes of the problem. There are three basic issues that could be roadblocking you:

1. The publication isn’t interested in your ideas.

2. The publication isn’t using freelancers at this time

3. Your query letter sucks and the editor is laughing at you.

The first two you can’t do much about. To fix #1, you need to read more of a particular magazine or website and try again once you’ve got a better idea of what they print. To fix #3, we need a closer look at your work.

“To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Editor” is your first mistake–and probably your last with that particular query letter. It shows a basic lack of research. What’s worse, it shows a lack of INTEREST in that research. An editor can spot your lazy ass coming a mile away. Yeah, it’s harsh of me to say, but it’s true. Now you know. Continue reading Not Getting Any Freelance Writing Gigs? Why Your Query Letter Sucks

Confessions of an Editor: Schadenfruede

The German phrase schadenfruede means “pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune.” I regularly indulge in this shameful practice by reading blogs like the sadly discontinued (but perpetually archived and available) Miss Snark.

What can I say? I enjoy reading about other people dealing with the same sort of nonsense I encounter…it makes me feel good to know that other writers, editors and publishers struggle with me. Lit Agent X provides one of the best I’ve read this week. In the post “Query Oops”, she discusses the bonehead blunders she gets in her query letters. People asking her to “bare with me”, discussing “cereal killers” without a trace of irony, and my all-time fave, the guy who enclosed a “synapses” of his novel.

To be fair, I am willing to bet that the “synapses” guy was a victim of his spell checker. But I don’t care. Its grounds for round-filing, if you ask me. Then again, I am guilty of my own moronic blunders, which are usually the result of hitting “Send” far too eagerly. The three things I have learned in my stint as a writer and editor:

1. Never submit while hungover.

2. Never submit before coffee.

3. Never submit before breakfast.

If you can heed these three very related warnings, chances are you will go much farther than I. One day, you’ll be sitting in a high-rise office building in Manhattan and you’ll be round-filing MY correspondence. And laughing.

Oh–and before you ask: there isn’t a writer worth a damn who doesn’t go overboard on the food, alcohol, smokes or other bad-for-you things. It’s just the way we’re wired. I insist on the no hungover submissions rule with this in mind. You can pickle your innards as much as you like when the day’s work is done, but don’t you dare let morning -after sludge brain screw you out of a paying gig.

Confessions of an Editor, Part One

It’s true–I’ve been pulled back into the dark side. I’m currently doing editor duties for as as-of-yet unannounced online publication/e-commerce site, basically setting up the editorial department from SCRATCH. What does that mean? For starters, I had to create all the company’s documents and policies for the editorial side—everything from freelance writing terms and conditions and training manuals all the way to “about this website”.

Then there’s the part I truly love about creating new websites—hiring new writers. I enjoy this process so much I forget to pee. Ahh, sarcasm. It just doesn’t work in print when you write it straight. I SHOULD have put down that I tuh-ruhhhhly loooo-huh-huh-hoooove hiring new writers. That would have conveyed my utter disgust with the whole process.

The thing I hate most about hiring new writers is the deluge of wildly inappropriate responses from the online “help wanted” ad. I figure this must be my karma, since I have fired off too many blind queries in my day–utterly wasting some poor editor’s time with poorly researched pitches to magazines that couldn’t care less. Yes, it is clear that I’m being punished for NOT reading at least two issues of a magazine before querying in the early days of my career.

What kind of punishment, you ask? Continue reading Confessions of an Editor, Part One

Top Five Editor Complaints

OK, so these are MY top five editor complaints. As in, when I have to edit the work of my fellow freelancers–these are my top gripes. I’ve gotten some decent money revising the work of other writers when my poor harried editors simply don’t have the time to do it themselves. Trust me, when the time comes for YOU to sit in my place and do a bit of freelance editing (or when you take a job as an editor yourself) you will find your own list of major pet peeves. At least ONE of my list will end up on yours, I have no doubt:

Continue reading Top Five Editor Complaints