Editors, I suppose, were writers once too..

Came across this article

words that drive your editor crazy

– a tongue in cheek collection of editor’s pet peeves. Its always interesting to peek over the garden wall, but in this case I was left a little depressed. And perplexed. Not for the first time either.

I have pet peeves in writing, most of them occur in books I don’t read. One seems to follow the other. And I am not an editor. It’s not my job to make someone else’s book read well; it is my responsibility to make my own book read so well you can’t pass it up.

I’ve never once counted my that’s, my this’s or my the’s – a word that in order to complain the editor had to use five times..

Its not just my own work though, I’ve never once thought, ah it could’ve been a great book, but all those was’s really ruined it..

On the glass-is-half-full hand, I could say if the worst anyone can find to complain about your writing is the number of was’s or other basic staple words, then you’re probably doing okay. But I’m taking the half empty stance on this one – if someone is counting the words, any words, they’re not listening.

Of all the things that make me feel lonely in the writing community it is this: it is always what you say that matters most, not how you say it.

So here is my response to all those don’ts…

It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take “good”, for instance. If you have a word like “good”, what need is there for a word like “bad”? “Ungood” will do just as well — better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of “good”, what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like “excellent” and “splendid” and all the rest of them? “Plusgood” covers the meaning, or “doubleplusgood” if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already. but in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words — in reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that, Winston?”

Actually its George Orwell’s. Really couldn’t put it better if I tried for a lifetime.


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