One of the joys of being a copyeditor is feeling like you’ve helped a writer substantially improve their copy. Fixing punctuation errors, catching spelling mistakes—those are satisfying in their own right. But when you feel like you’ve helped a writer more successfully express their intended meaning—that’s really something.
One of the ways we do this is by helping writers with word choice. That might mean correcting improper usage (replacing effect with affect, for example). It might mean swapping a jargony term with a straightforward one (replacing interfaced with met, for example).
We can also help writers by suggesting—judiciously—that they replace a bland, overused word with one that’s more vibrant.
And with Valentine’s Day here, what word is more overused than kiss? Here’s a handy chart to help you and your writers describe more accurately that special moment when two lips collide.
|If your character is …||They might do this …|
|ambitious||get to first base|
|apologetic||kiss and make up|
|crude||swap spit, suck face, lock lips, or play tonsil hockey|
|enthusiastic||smack, smooch, or pucker up|
|immature||give a hickey|
|passionate||soul kiss or deep kiss|
|playful||Eskimo kiss or butterfly kiss|
Hopefully (yeah, we’re allowed to say hopefully now), you’ll find this list helpful. And in closing, remember that although a “kiss on the hand may be quite continental,” thoughtful edits are truly a girl’s best friend.
This post was originally published on the ACES blog in 2014. It was written by Samantha Enslen, who is on the ACES Executive Board. She also runs Dragonfly Editorial.