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Saturday, December 1, 2012

One Of Harvey Stanbrough's Seven Writerly Sins

I collect editing tips as I edit others' work, but also as I read the ideas of other editors. I often put these ideas in my SharingwithWriters newsletter which is available with a free e-book on wordtrippers at and sometimes here as well. Here's a recent entry on annoying use of the verb "gave."

I am reading Harvey Stanbrough's Seven Writerly Sins and in it he mentions a writing style that isn't exactly wrong, just wordy, a bit annoying, and an odd use of the verb "gave."
Stanbrough uses this example; "I gave a quick look at Nick Campbell, and he gave me a subtle nod for me to continue." He suggests, "I glanced at Nick Campbell and he nodded, indicating that I should continue," or just "I glanced a Nick Campbell and he nodded."
I prefer the latter because I try to avoid "ing" constructions, because they tend contribute to odd constructions and wordiness, too.
Stanbrough points out that the word "give" is "most often a transitive verb, meaning you actually give (or hand or grant) something to someone." You can see how an affectation like  the one in his example could be a problem if it's not used very, very judiciously.

By the way, Harvey gives this Seven Writerly Sins booklet away to those who subscribe to his newsletter or follow his other free services. Lean more at

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults. and speaks on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at , where writers will find lists and other helps including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her Sharing with Writers blog. She tweets writers' resources at . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

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