A/K/A, getting the modifiers and the clauses to line up right so everything makes sense
There’s a natural flow to English – some kinds of descriptions simply sound better in one order than in another. The big brown dog sounds right; The brown big dog doesn’t. And the more complex the sentence gets, the bigger the issue.
“The shops and their windows were full of glitter, artificial snow and wax models perched on sleighs wearing party dresses.”
Just wondering. Where do you find a party dress that would fit a sleigh?
Inside the elevator was a hospital porter and a huge man in a wheelchair with no legs.
Uhh… don’t wheelchairs normally have wheels, not legs?
She had worked with John and David at various times, but the towering guy with the spiky blond hair named Matthew was new.
If his hair is Matthew, what are his eyebrows named?
She was dining at a particularly delicious competitor’s restaurant.
Pretty sure this means the restaurant was particularly delicious, not the chef himself.
The waiter silently poured wine, a man this time, and then left.
I didn’t know wine had a gender. Let’s try: The waiter, a man this time, poured wine and then left.
Perhaps it was the owner of the estate’s retarded son.
Aside from the political correctness issue, the estate doesn’t have a son, the owner does.
Annie went once to a mass with one of the wives of a Mexican ranch hand.
How many wives did the Mexican ranch hand have, anyway? Let’s say: with the wife of one of the Mexican ranch hands.
“I want you to prove to me that you won’t try to kill me again.”
He’s already killed you once? A better way to phrase it: that you won’t try again to kill me.
A hundred yards to the rear and attached to his ship by a thick hemp line was a barge loaded with furnace coke named Maryland.
That would be: a barge named Maryland loaded with furnace coke.
He was transported back twelve years ago, when he took over the business from his father, then located in a tiny strip mall back in his hometown.
I’m kind of sorry for the dad, stuck in a tiny strip mall. I wonder if he ever got out of there.
Here’s a challenge to think about:
Not all smells are sweet
is not the same as
All smells are not sweet
Can you explain the difference?
Leigh offers a coaching session for up to four participants where she edits a section of the author’s work and gives a running commentary of the changes and the reasons. She faithfully promises not to be snarky.
The Snarky Editor comes out of hiding occasionally to comment on the awkward, silly, and sometimes hilarious editing errors found in published books.