Writing Repair

April 9, 2013
Friend: I do like being busy and engaged in things so, so far so good. (hmmm… how would you punctuate that last phrase? I see a couple of ways, the way I have it but also:
… and engaged in things, so so far, so good
…and engaged in things so so far, so good 
but my first choice seems perhaps most logical; the double “so so” seems to demand separation, doesn’t it?
Joy: Or how about … and engaged in things; so far, so good? (I think “so far, so good” qualifies as a sentence.)
Friend: Interesting … with the semicolon, we could dispense with the first “so” since it was functioning as a conjunction, and the semicolon really does the work for it! Maybe you could start a blog or post a series on Facebook: “fixing broken sentences” or some such!
As a copy editor, I wish I had more friends who enjoy exchanges like the above, so I decided to follow this friend’s advice and start a blog on the subject: writing repair. If you have a tricky writing issue, be it verbiage, punctuation or formatting, please post it. I’ll be happy to respond, and I hope others will chime in with their opinions.

I’m also available for copy editing work; email joyeckel@gmail.com for a free sample edit and estimate.


There’s a bathroom on the right …

July 9, 2013

There's a bathroom on the right ...

Thanks, Gloria!

Sunday Funnies

June 23, 2013

Sunday Funnies

Absolutely everybody needs an editor!

June 21, 2013

Absolutely everybody needs an editor!


Military widow shocked to find stranger’s name on husband’s headstone


Sunday Funnies

June 9, 2013

A dangling modifier walks into a bar. After finishing a drink, the bartender asks it to leave.

What’s wrong with this sentence? I see two things.

June 6, 2013

For those of us that live in work in town, it is business and usual.

Sunday Funnies

June 2, 2013

Sunday Funnies

Damn Good Advice

June 2, 2013

Never use the word, “very.” It is the weakest word in the English language; doesn’t mean anything. If you feel the urge of “very” coming on, just write the word “damn” in the place of “very.” The editor will strike out the word “damn,” and you will have a good sentence.

-William Allen White

Summer Special: 20% Off

May 31, 2013

Independent writers receive 20% off all editing services June 1 to August 1.

Just email your Word document to joyeckel@gmail.com, and I’ll return a sample edited at the level I recommend, along with the flat fee for that level. Although I offer my opinion, you always decide on the level of edit, as well as choosing between the flat fee and an hourly rate.

For more info on the services I offer, please refer to my interview at mariaruizauthor.com.

Ensure Correct Use of Insure

May 30, 2013

It’s easy to confuse “ensure” and “insure,” derived from the same root; however, they have distinct meanings.

Ensure applies to guaranteeing a desired outcome: The supplemental drink Ensure ensures improved nutrition.

Insure applies to limiting financial liability: Unfortunately, his car was not insured.

Assure, another related word, only applies to living things: The doctor assured her that she was fine.

Joy Eckel, Freelance Copy Editor
Email joyeckel@gmail.com for a free estimate and sample edit.

It’s just for Kindle …

May 29, 2013

so I’m not going to bother with editing.

I’ve heard versions of the above with alarming frequency over the past few years, and I’ve noticed the same lack of quality control in most online text.

Have we tacitly agreed to lower standards for electronic media? 

Sunday Funnies

May 26, 2013

Sunday Funnies

Sunday Funnies

May 26, 2013

Sunday Funnies

Sunday Funnies

May 26, 2013

Sunday Funnies

Er, more?

May 23, 2013

More and more people are using “more” instead of the comparative “er” form: more fair, more clear, more gray. Since those are one-syllable adjectives, they should be “fairer,” “clearer” and “grayer.”

“More” is used with most two-syllable and all three-syllable adjectives: more thoughtful, more careful, more important, more intelligent.

However, two-syllable adjectives ending in “ow,” “le,” “y” and “er,” use the comparative form. But of course, there are exceptions; some of these adjectives can be used with either the comparative form or “more”: clever, friendly, gentle, simple.

25 Things Every Young Professional Should Know

May 19, 2013

25 Things Every Young Professional Should Know

3. The less you write, the tighter the message.

Yay, the importance of concise writing is in the top 3!


May 16, 2013

“Me and a fellow copy editor are at odds.”

(Found in Q&A section of Chicago Manual of Style site)

Stray Bullets

May 16, 2013

Despite their frequent use, bulleted lists cause significant confusion.

Although style guides differ on formatting, capitalization and punctuation, one rule is universal: To help the reader absorb the information, the items listed should be PARALLEL. All should be structured the same way: if one item starts with a verb, all should start with a verb; if one is a complete sentence,  all should be complete sentences; if one is a sentence fragment, all should be fragments; and so on.

Can you find the “stray bullet” that breaks the parallel construction in the following list?

In the next few months, the Board Directors, Executive Director, and staff of the new AC will be:

• Refine program budgets for transferred programs
• Re-initiating the Action  program
• Continuing the formation of the Operating Committees

Joy Eckel, Freelance Copy Editor
Email joyeckel@gmail.com for a free estimate and sample edit!


May 14, 2013

Can you find three wording errors in these headlines from today’s Yahoo! News?

3 Reasons Why Candice Glover Will Win ‘Idol’…and 3 Reasons Why Kree Could Win

My Student Loan Story: I Feel Like I Am Sinking


Mother’s Day Malapropism

May 12, 2013

“Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.” 
Dan Quayle, Vice President

Happy Mother’s Day!

Say What?

May 11, 2013

“Some finish up with fruit or have fruit as their primary buffet entrée.  Either way, plenty of assortment…


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