You Don't Say
John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to email@example.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.
Monday, December 21, 2015
Monday, November 30, 2015
There are uses for The Old Editor Says beyond the contents of the book.
Consider its uses as the Editor on a Shelf. Place your copy of the paperback on a nearby bookshelf or on your desk. The Old Editor's minatory gaze will then be visible to the writers and editors you work with, a corrective to their impulses toward excess.
Move it about from time to time, so that they never know exactly where they will encounter it. This will keep them alert.
The Old Editor Says is readily available from Amazon.com.
Monday, August 10, 2015
I suggest a different little book: The Old Editor Says, a compendium of a career's worth of reliable maxims for every ink-stained wretch.
Favorable notices from, among other worthies, Jan Freeman at Throw Grammar From the Train, Stan Carey at Sentence First, and Steve Buttry at The Buttry Diary, have not been rescinded.
You can also listen to The Old Editor himself read selections at a Grammar Girl podcast.
The Old Editor himself is available to harangue students, writers, editors, and interested civilians, at very reasonable rates. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Writers want to enliven their prose by making use of metaphors and other ornamental language. But laudable as the goal is, they are also prone to misjudgments that they have trouble recognizing without the patient assistance of an editor.
The conference will include examples from my extensive store of defective prose, and you will be invited to comment on them. Or argue with me about them, if you think that will get you anywhere.
The conference runs this coming Monday, June 22, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. EDT, and there is still time to sign up.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Rudolph Giuliani, one-time mayor of New York, told a group of conservatives that he doesn’t think that President Obama loves America, which invites us to consider what America he is talking about.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
Internships at publications are a double advantage for students: They gain invaluable practical experience in reporting, writing, and editing, and a successful internship is often the surest route to permanent employment (or to such permanence as journalism offers these days).
The Cleghorn internship is a paid internship, and the number of internships offered each year depends on the contributions to the fund. I have written a check again this year (all right, I'm a trustee of the foundation; it's the least I could do). I suggest that you consider what it was like when you were starting out in the business, how much you benefited, or would have benefited, from such an internship, and how much you are able to help give the rising generation a boost.
Your check is an investment in the future of the enterprise, which badly needs promising students with proper grounding in the craft. Here is a link to the contribution form. The mailing address is 60 West Street, Annapolis, MD 21401.
Monday, December 1, 2014
While you are online, marshaling your forces for Christmas shopping, allow me to suggest that The Old Editor Says would be an excellent choice for that student, that aspiring writer, that editor, that stickler, that annoying know-it-all on your list.
A slim volume of fewer than seventy pages of pithy sayings, it distills three decades' worth of editing lore and wisdom, and it is cheap.
The Old Editor Says has been received favorably by Stan Carey of Sentence first, Steve Buttry of The Buttry Diary, Dawn McIlvain Stahl at Copyediting, and Mignon Fogarty, who invited The Old Editor to do a Grammar Girl podcast.
Available in print form or on Kindle.
We regret intruding with a commercial message, but there is no one else to flog that damn book.
We return now to regular programming.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Scout, who was my afternoon companion and consolation during the long, fruitless job search of the [cough] hiatus [cough]. Scout, who after a year of declining health lost her vision and had to be euthanized at the age of fifteen. Scout whom we mourned--I found myself on getting up every morning looking to see if she was in the window or on the sofa.
We were not going to acquire another cat. We were in mourning. And Kathleen, who loves cats, is allergic to them.
Then, a week ago as she was working in the yard, a cat whom we had noticed in the neighborhood, a handsome but skinny orange male, walked up to her and said in fluent Cattish, "I'm hungry. Feed me."
Of course she took pity, and put out some food and water, and the cat ate ravenously. He has wandered away from someone or has been abandoned, we thought. We'll feed him for a couple of days and make inquiries around the neighborhood. If no one claims him, we'll have to call animal control, because we can't take on another cat.
Then the weather turned cold and I weakened. I let him into the house Friday, and he made himself at home. He is a genial cat. He loves to sit with people. He's a purring machine.
Fatefully, we named him, calling him Saunders, and you know what that means.
So on Monday, a trip to the Belvedere Veterinary Center for an expensive series of shots and tests (he charmed the staff), and now I have invested in him.
He is sitting at my feet as I type, wondering when I am going to give up this frivolity and return to my proper duty of paying attention to the cat.
On my way, Mr. Saunders.