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Saturday, June 7, 2014

LA Times Gets "Scrutiny" for Too-Long Verbs

It's been so long since I posted, I think it's time I took the advice I gave small businesses in my book Your Blog, Your Business. That is, posts don't have to be long. Post as you have something that will be of interest or help your audience. Soooo....here goes.

Every once in a while I'm reading and something that's ungrammatical, wordy, or just cries out for an edit calls to me (or grabs me by the throat!).  Here's s subhead (or "deck") I saw recently in the LA Times:

"The health director came under scrutiny after agreeing to speak at PCC's graduation."

Now, I get that headlines and subheads and cutlines under pictures are tricky because the editors have to kinda, sorta make them fit the width of the column or columns.  But really.  I was in my wordiness mode, so I would have red-lined it like this:

"Health director scrutinized after agreeing to speak (or speaking) at PCC's graduation."

Keep in mind that articles etc can often be left out of headline and verbs should be strong.  I mean, "came under scrutiny?"  The same editor (presumably) used the same phrase in a front page headline only days later. Apparently that phrase fits one-column needs for length and brevity be damned. 

So, advice:  As you edit, check your verbs.  It's easy for them to get both passive and too long. 


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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 www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , 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 www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

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