Editor’s Tip: How NOT to Choke Your Own Sentences

Authors make some pretty terrible mistakes over and over again. I would know, I’m an author. But I’m also an editor for a small publishing company. Here’s one common writing mistake that can mean the death of a novel.  

“Let’s jumble this sentence, add as many words, commas, etc, but not in the right places, and make this sentence as long as possible because, well, I don’t really know why, but I forgot I was still on the same sentence.”

Watch your words. A few EXQUISITE words are a whole lot better than a bucketload of kinda-okay words. One of the marks of a good writer is that he/she knows how to use words powerfully enough to use only a few and communicate a LOT. Uncertain and amateur writers get self-conscious about their choices of words, and say basically the same thing more than once.

Examples always help.

“I truly believe and think that there will always be a place and loving arms for AKC registered poodles in any home or residence in the world, because poodles, like many cats or dogs, are cute, adorable, kind, affectionate, and cuddly.”

Here’s how I would edit this sentence:

I truly believe and think that there (You never need to say “I believe/think.” This whole article is what you think. It’s understood)There will always be a place and loving arms for AKC registered (who cares?) poodles in any home or residence (this is basically a repeat, cluttering up the sentence and gunning down it’s power) in the world, because poodles, like many cats or dogs, (yes, it’s true, but everyone knows that, no need to say it) are cute, adorable, kind, affectionate, (watch out for comma-ridden descriptions, they tend to repeat themselves and get boring really fast) and cuddly.”

“There will always be a place for poodles in any home, because poodles are cute and cuddly.”

If you’re yawning at the end of your own sentence, something’s wrong. It’s tough, but if you want to get better, watch your word count and cut, cut, cut, ruthlessly. At the beginning, I was scared of cutting because I wanted to fill a book. But a filled book is worthless if it’s half full of junk words. Short is better than long.

Why I Wrote the Book

Before and during college, I struggled a lot with what I was supposed to do, career-wise. Though prayer and Bible reading, I came to this conclusion: God creates people different from each other, with unique gifts and talents. He did that for a reason, and it’s a good thing. Throughout the Bible, God talks about forming us like a Potter forms clay, and compares us to a body, with different parts with different purposes.

So I thought this idea was worth sharing. But how would I explain this concept to my little niece or nephew? Ergo, the story was born. I was (and still am) exploring my artistic talent, so I started drawing pictures to go with the story, just for the joy of creating beautiful spaces. Matt encouraged me, and I came up with something decent.

I’ve gotten some amazing encouragement from people who read the story, and now the book is printed and available on Amazon.com or from me personally. All proceeds will go towards my next book and a new project called the Genesis! game that my husband and I are working on.

The-Artist_looking-around_stained-glass

Oh, that’s why we suck…

When I was a teenager, my youth group went door to door to pass out fliers for the upcoming VBS. I remember vividly one woman who, hesitating through her screen door, almost took the flier, but then asked where we were from.

When we told her, she stopped. Her voice turned cold. “Oh, I wouldn’t come.” She said. “I go to (Insert small-town church name). You’re welcome to come to OUR VBS, though.”

When did churches start competing with each other for members? When did it become about what church you go to instead of about all of us serving God and this dying world, TOGETHER? What’s wrong with the church?

Now, obviously, this isn’t every church, or even the majority. But a large fraction of usually dead, traditional churches seem to think that church is a club, where members are coveted from other clubs and loyalties are jealously guarded.

Divide and conquer devil, divide and conquer.

One of the Best Books on Writing EVER

I don’t get a percentage of this or anything. I just thought of it the other day and thought it worthy of sharing to all the aspiring writers out there.

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Yeah, it’s for news writing, but I picked it up for $1 once when I was, like, 16, and it propelled my writing to entire new heights. 🙂 Good writing is good writing, regardless of if it’s for news or a fiction book. I especially remember their section on descriptions. And, of course, if you want to get your writing start in journalism, this is perfect for you.