Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writing, and then re-writing

Dilbert: "Your second paragraph is pointless and confusing. Let's just delete it."
Writer: "I'm a highly trained technical writer. What makes you think you can do my job better?"
Dilbert: "That might be a trick question. But I'm pretty sure the answer is in paragraph two"

Good writing is not written.... it's re-written. And it's likely rewritten again. Even when you start with an outline and a story board as I do.

I'm working on my fourth book (due to be published early next year) "Maximizing Project Value"; I'm supposed to know how to do this. But after almost a year, I'm still rewriting. Of course, I had a good beta reading team; they really gave me some good stuff.

(By the way, it's going to be a paper book. But if you've got an itch to self-publish an ebook, take a look at this blog on how to write an ebook)

Now comes the editing by a professional editor. And you get this stuff, among other good suggestions:

More about the lowly comma from Ben Yagoda who is a professor of English:
If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a thousand times. I’m referring to a student’s writing a sentence like:
I went to see the movie, “Midnight in Paris” with my friend, Jessie.

Comma after “movie,” comma after “friend” and, sometimes, comma after “Paris” as well. None are correct — unless “Midnight in Paris” is the only movie in the world and Jessie is the writer’s only friend. Otherwise, the punctuation should be:

I went to see the movie “Midnight in Paris” with my friend Jessie.
If that seems wrong or weird or anything short of clearly right, bear with me a minute and take a look at another correct sentence:
I went to see Woody Allen’s latest movie, “Midnight in Paris,” with my oldest friend, Jessie.

You need a comma after “movie” because this and only this is Mr. Allen’s newest movie in theaters, and before “Jessie” because she and only she is the writer’s oldest friend.

The syntactical situation I’m talking about is identifier-name. The basic idea is that if the name (in the above example, “Jessie”) is the only thing in the world described by the identifier (“my oldest friend”), use a comma before the name (and after it as well, unless you’ve come to the end of the sentence). If not, don’t use any commas.
OMG, enough about the comma!