A friend and colleague recently shared an experience on social media that I, and many other professional writers, could relate to. When an aspiring writer approaches you for feedback or advice beyond what you have the capacity to give freely, how do you graciously decline?
About Constance Hale
On November 13, 2017, my friend and colleague Matthew Zapruder started a thread on Facebook seeking ideas for teaching poetry to kids. Matthew is not just a writer of most-memorable lines, but also the author of Why Poetry (Ecco, 2017) and a veteran teacher of verse—but not to elementary school students. His friends delivered in spades, brainstorming, sharing tips, and showing their own offbeat creativity. It all made for a bracing palaver about poetry.
Ernest Hemingway, I’ll bet, was not a fan of books on writing—or things like MFA programs. His advice to novelists was famously pithy: “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” But many of us find solace in the advice of others, and need inspiration when we get stuck.
A copy editor is only as good as her bookshelf, or bookmarks. Here are some basic books that every copy editor should have.
Who are copy editors and what do they do anyway? The short answer is that they are the secret heroes of publishing. They use a keen eye to spot grammatical errors and typos. In addition, a copy editor knows how to find and fix factual errors. The best copy editors also call attention to faulty logic, or holes in an article, or paragraphs in the wrong place. And the very best are sentence magicians, turning clunky collections of words into musical phrases.
Recently, one of my young cousins emailed me to ask about copy-editing resources. As the editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper, she had decided to institute a new step in the paper’s editing process. My many emails exchanges with her made me realize that while I’ve blogged about literary style and good editing in the past, this little-understood and vastly under-appreciated part of the publishing process deserves some attention.
The best writers I know have habits to make sure their words are as powerful as possible. It may seem old-fashioned, or just tedious, to work with a dictionary and a thesaurus at your side, but this is part of the practice of writing. Take a common noun like fruit, which many of us might use in a first draft. We can do better than that, right?
According to dictionary.com, the berry family is not a botanical category but rather a linguistic invention particular to Germanic languages like English. We’ve got berries coming out of our ears in English. Here’s a running list, for those who love synonym challenges.
How to survive—and thrive—as a freelancer. Constance Hale shares the unvarnished truth about how to reach your dreams. If you are pondering a leap into freelancing or seeking ways to revamp your writing business, she offers a number of concrete tips.
Being bilingual is a cornerstone of my writing life. My multi-culti take on vocabulary and grammar has given me insight into Hawaiian culture, guided my perspectives on syntax, and shaped my ideas of adventurous prose. And being bilingual has developed my ear for language and given me a true appreciation not just for vocabulary, but also for the sound of words and the rhythm of sentences.