A wedgie of words

Just because I’m a longtime technical editor doesn’t mean that I can’t play with words! I write children’s books, greeting cards, screenplays … and an occasional poem, like this ditty that I hope gives my fellow wordsmiths a chuckle. Phonetic Fashion In this recession that has gone on for an eternity I can dress up for free in the dictionary …

The Power of Simple Writing

There’s something to be said for clever, catchy writing. But there’s a lot more to be said for writing that’s simple and straightforward. I was headed home from my mom’s yesterday with a book I had borrowed: Trustee from the Toolroom, by Nevil Shute, one of Britain’s best storytellers and the author of On the Beach and A Town Like …

An editor’s journey: From heartbreak to Tuesday

Michelle Anderson’s path to becoming an editor began with heartache: She was in graduate school, working on her Ph.D. in English literature, when her mother became ill. Michelle dropped out to care for her mother; when her mother passed away, Michelle decided not to return to university.  “Even though I couldn’t study literature, I was still looking for a way …

Author query etiquette 101

question mark

Aim to “please” Remember when we were kids, and our parents or teachers would remind us to say please and thank you when we forgot to use good manners? Well, I think a similar practice should apply to us whenever we insert author or client queries in the files we are editing. When we remember to say please and use …

6 simple stretches to avoid carpal tunnel

cat stretching

Any repetitive activity can put you at risk for injury. Computer users–and that includes editors and writers–are at risk for repetitive stress injuries and should take regular breaks to stretch. Here are some exercises that I’ve found helpful. They can be done in just a few minutes. I recommend doing them throughout your workday as a preventive measure. On deadline? …

Does your work have backup?

A few years ago my husband sent me this reminder of why writers, editors, designers — well, everyone — must have a system in place for backing up files regularly (ideally, automatically). An entire issue of Business 2.0 magazine was accidentally deleted before going to print. Much of the content had to be recreated from scratch — and still make …

The gray–or “grey”–areas of editing

I used to think steadfast writing rules existed for every word, sentence, and punctuation mark around. That’s what we learned growing up, right? Don’t begin sentences with “and.” Use a comma after each item in a series. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Except. Except then I got to college and started to learn that perhaps everything in the …

Who in the world is Laurie Wells?

Laurie Wells is a freelance editor who lives in a “geeky household” in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and two sons. She describes herself as a “kitchen sink” editor, thanks to her wide range of interests and experiences. She started her editing career working on Windows’ NT magazine – making her edits in red pencil on hard copies. From there, …

Writing lessons pulled from poetry

In 2009, I posted writing advice from one of my mentors, Maurice Cottingham. Maurice told me that one of the best ways to end a story was with a great quote. I’ve extended his advice somewhat; I think one of the best ways to end a story is with anything great. A zinger; a twist; a joke; anything that causes …

The importance of telling stories

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ― Philip Pullman As World Storytelling Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about the importance of stories. We all have stories to tell, whether they’re fictional or personal. And each one has unmeasurable value. Agatha Christie’s gripping murder mysteries shaped the mystery genre.  Maya Angelou’s memoirs revolutionized …