Kiss and Edit: It’s All About Word Choice This Valentine’s Day

multi-color_valentine_candy_heartsOne 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.

For example:

If your character is … They might do this …
affectionate nuzzle
ambitious get to first base
apologetic kiss and make up
Australian pash
British snog
crude swap spit, suck face, lock lips, or play tonsil hockey
enthusiastic smack, smooch, or pucker up
immature give a hickey
no-nonsense mouth kiss
old-fashioned buss
overeducated osculate
passionate soul kiss or deep kiss
playful Eskimo kiss or butterfly kiss
reserved peck
vacuous air kiss
wiggly canoodle

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 runs Dragonfly Editorial.


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