Pleas don’t dessert me.
From the desk of Ms. Grammar Person
Fear not, Gentle Writer, for help has arrived. Rest assured that your grimaces and groans, your grinding of teeth has not gone unnoticed. And, because Mrs. Grammar Person abhors the grinding of perfectly good teeth, she has agreed to impart her timely wisdom to those afflicted with self-doubt. In a stage whisper, Mrs. Grammar Person explains that although she is your true friend, spell-check is not. Spell-check is fickle and delights in trickery. He will make you believe that it’s morning when, in fact, you’re in mourning, or that you should waver when you are seeking a waiver. He doesn’t care if your simple please turns into multiple pleas, and he will most likely desert you if you ask for dessert.
Mrs. G.P. wishes to remind you for whom the bell tolls (if you must ask, it tolls for thee). When in doubt as to whether to use who or whom, simply substitute the word him. If him will do nicely, then the word you want is whom. Mrs. G.P. shudders to think that you would even consider writing “For he the bell tolls.” She keeps her smelling salts handy, just in case. Being an agreeable person, herself, Mrs. G.P. insists that all her nouns and verbs also agree; therefore, a swarm of bees searches for honey, but the two straggler bees search on their own. How sweet the sound of proper grammar!
While Mrs. G.P. has nothing but admiration for writers who seek perfection, she cautions that nobody is perfect (except for her, of course). To that end, she cautions you about using the pronoun “I” when the word you seek is “me”. To write that “the teacher allows Joe and I to go to the playground” is tantamount to writing, “the teacher allows “I” to go to the playground.” Whenever she sees this transgression, Mrs. G.P. slams the offending book shut, never to be opened again.
Now, it is time to bid farewell to Mrs. Grammar Person, but, before she takes her leave, she asks you to remember that: it is always darkest before the dawn, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, you should keep your chin up and, if you don’t stop using clichés, Mrs. Grammar Person will march back here and rap your knuckles with a ruler!
Once she is satisfied that you’ve learned your lesson, Mrs. G.P. gently pats you on the head and heads off to the library, casually tossing out her final words of wisdom, words that shake your very foundation: “Remember, my dears, you can end a sentence with a preposition and you can split an infinitive!”
The Chicago Manual of Style has so many delightful rules. I’m here to use them and my handy broom to sweep through your manuscript and fix errors in punctuation, spelling, sentence phrasing, dangling things, hyphens, em dashes, and verb tense agreement. And oh, so much more!
Line editing is fun!
Things to look for
Click open a tab for descriptions.
Are the sentences in your paragraphs all the same length? Is there enough construction variety, or do you have all clause-comma-clause sentences?
Compounds and Hyphens
I’ll go through and correct hyphens such as making sure mid-morning is midmorning and half asleep is half-asleep.
Magazines, titles, songs, books, newspapers. I’ll make sure your Movie Titles are italicized and “Song Titles” are in quotes.
Commas, smart vs. curly quotes, question marks placement, ellipses usage, em vs. en dashes, hyphens, digit vs. spelled numbers, speech tags, percent usage, spaces and tabs, etc.
Spelling and Grammar
Do you have wear when it should be where? I’ll also look for the times when the same word each time is used too many times in the same paragraph all the time.
We know that spell-check doesn’t catch everything. I’ll find when hi should be his or the is supposed to be they. I’ll make sure your past tenses are in the past, subjects and verbs happily agree, and adverbs and adjectives are properly connected.
Does Becky Sue have green eyes in chapter one but somehow has blue eyes in chapter four? Did your murderer use a jade knife, but the detective found the ivory-handled blade in a later chapter? Did Becky Sue have her back to the door while waving goodbye but somehow reached forward to turn the knob? Was your main character born in Akron but later on tells everyone it’s Arkon?