"The Sound of Music" was on the other night. All the songs are wonderful, but the "Do, Re, Mi" song and, of course, "My Favorite Things" are probably the ones I remember right away when I think about the musical.
So, I decided to combine the two into some weird bastardization of my own favorite things. This installment will be "My Favorite Things People Who Think They Are Writers Have Screwed Up." It's going to be fun!
DO. "A misspelling, an easily overlooked misspelling." Spell-check might not catch the difference between "do" and "doe," the (female) deer, but it sure should have caught the very public "city ordinace" posted in an elevator in the building where I used to work.
RE. "A drop of golden sun!" Ahhh, the descriptiveness. One professional, on more than one occasion, sent me some finely crafted prose that confused the noun "tenet" with "tenant." The part that frustrated me the most was when the offender effectively brushed me off when I called her attention to the error. "Nobody would have caught that but you," Ms. Vocabulary said. Touche, dummy.
MI. "A name, I call myself." I might pull my hair out if I see another extraneous comma. Whose bright idea was it to teach kids to put a comma wherever they wanted a pause in their prose? I assure you, it, was, not, mine.
FA. "A long, long way to run!" I especially despise run-on sentences. Conjunctions and semicolons and commas, oh my! (Sorry; now apparently I am not only mixing songs within a musical, I am also mixing musicals!) I spent a great deal of time today untangling a single-sentence paragraph that was (no exaggeration) 14 lines long. Here's a bit of advice for the "professional writer": Just because you put a lot of words together doesn't mean they actually make sense.
SO. "A needle-pulling threat!" Good gracious, that might hurt! You know how people just make up lyrics to songs in order to just sing along? I've run across many a Word document in which folks just skip over obvious boo-boos. Read slowly when you proofread, people. (And, by the way, proofreading is NOT the same thing as copyediting.)
LA. "A note to follow SO!" At least the song is honest. There was no clever play on words here, so they just told it like it was. On the other hand, I am SICK AND TIRED of overplayed cliches. Be original, or just be honest ... your writing sucks.
TI. "A drink with jam and bread!" What kind of drink? I find myself missing my pal Jose Cuervo when I have to search high and low for the subject of a sentence. Don't bury it. Sentences that begin with the phrase "there is" usually could be recast to more powerful ends.
DO. "That will bring us back to DO!" What have we learned here? Probably nothing, because once a person thinks she's a writer, nothing can be done to dissuade her of the self-appointed title. But if you could take away one thing from this little post, I would like it to be this: GET YOUR STUFF COPYEDITED BY A REAL COPY EDITOR. You'll probably end up thanking them for making you look good. And just think, if the copy editor screws it up and someone notices, you have an easy scapegoat. And then you won't feeeeeeeel soooooooo baaaaaaadddd!