Being a writer, and having an editor. A Short Rant.

I have been incredibly lucky; the editors I’ve worked with have been terrific. O’Reilly, for example, spends a lot of time on editing. And they interpret the term editing correctly and broadly: everything from copyediting to technical editing to just making sure that what you’ve written is clear, correct and concise.

I should add that my current development editor, one Brian MacDonald, is among the best I’ve ever worked with; he has incredible patience, intellect, perspicacity, proportion, tact… you know, he’s a mensch.

So, with apologies to him and others, here is my rant on topics I run into as an author…

<rant>

Outliars

 

Whence the rule that any heading must have at least two sub-heads? Silly, absurd and a prescriptivist straight-jacket.

Animals

  Mammals

    Dogs

    Other Animals

  Marsupials

    Why they are funny looking

Plants

I simply reject as overly constraining the notion that “Why they are funny looking” must either have a sibling (“why editors are marsupials?”) or be merged into the parent (“Marsupials,  and why editors are funny looking”). 

Let me Make A Preposition To You

There are a number of dopey rules about prepositions that arise out of an insipid and false attempt to Latinize our Germanic language. The silliest is the “never end a sentence with a preposition”

No native-English speaking person would ever say  “What movie was it to which we went?”  You and I and everyone else who speaks the language would say “What movie did we go to?”

Infinitely Annoying

Again, arising from Latin but having nothing to do with English, came the pseudo-rule that you should never split the infinitive.  Besides causing you to stupidly put the verb in the wrong place (stupidly to put?) such a rule would not allow Captain Kirk to bravely go anywhere.

Are you more careful than she?

If I fell

I’ll just quote from John Lennon

If I give my heart to you

I must be sure

From the very start

That you would love me more than her

Can you quite imagine him writing “love me more than she”  ???

“Knock Knock”

“Who’s there?”

“I”

“eye?”

“Aye, it’s me

    – Liberty 2009

Off To A Bad Start

There is no excuse for thinking that you can’t start a sentence with “There is.”  And I should add that I think it is fine to start a sentence with “and.” But not just and, even but.

A Singular Notion

While none of us is perfect, none of us are ever going to remember to use the singular because it doesn’t make sense much of the time.  Not everyone is annoyed when they see they used with a singular antecedent. If you are one who is, I recommend the brilliant paper written by Geoffry K. Pullman

Which Witch Created That Rule?

I’d almost given up on fighting the rule which is most often of concern to editors trained that one must never use  “which” to introduce a restrictive clause. But then I learned that this rule was invented out of whole cloth by the completely untrained  Strunk (of the infamous Strunk and White). It turns out, to his embarrassment, that Strunk violated this arbitrary caprice three times in Elements of Style.

 

</rant>

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About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty is an independent consultant and programmer with three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects. He is the author of 2 dozen books and multiple Pluralsight courses, and has been a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP, Microsoft MVP and Telerik MVP.
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One Response to Being a writer, and having an editor. A Short Rant.

  1. W.Meints says:

    Great writeup, I wrote a couple of articles in dutch for a magazine and encountered the very same issues 😛 Luckely, the problem is global and not just something I have to go through with every flipping article.

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