Friday, May 21, 2010

Statements I Hate to Hear from Writers (Part 1 of 3)

"I know there are mistakes, but an editor can fix it. That's what editors do, isn't it?" While I was doing a Q & A on a radio station, a caller said those words.

Yes, that is what editors do—after they accept a manuscript. They expect well written, grammatically correct submissions. Their job is to improve a good manuscript and make it into an excellent one. As a professional, I'd be ashamed to send anything to an editor that was less than my best work.

"I want to write good," one woman said at a writers conference. (She should have said well.) "But if I spent all my time learning to spell and write better English, I wouldn't get any good writing done."

"I wouldn't hire a carpenter who didn't know how to use a hammer," I replied. "Good writers know their craft—that's their box of tools. If you don't know sentence structure, learn before you submit."

She shrugged and walked away.

Professional writers take pride in presenting quality manuscripts;
those who don't care remain amateurs.


  1. "Art of the Father," a young man's tale about his father and the lessons instilled in him. Please read it at

  2. I wouldn't even say "amateurs" (writing simply for the love of it), but unsold, unsung, unwept and unpublished (by traditional means).

  3. As a former English teacher, I cringe at the misuse of apostrophes--even by professional writers. Confusion runs rampant on the difference between possessive and plural. On the sign outside the Civic Complex in a nearby town: "Mayors Office" -- the town has only ONE mayor. Engraved on rocks in front yards: "The Smith's". If I had a dollar for every misuse of the apostrophe, I'd have my debt paid off! OK, that's a hyperbole.

  4. Thanks, Michele, for your comment about apostrophes. I feel the same way. My peeve is to read something like this: John was born in the 1930’s.

    However, here are two exceptions.

    1. For clarification, we say “Helene received 4 B’s and 3 C’s".

    2. I will speak at the Philadelphia Writers Conference. When I was in high school, we put in the apostrophe after writer. The rule today is that the writers don’t possess/own the conference, so there is no apostrophe.

  5. I am thankful for these posts. It is my first time visiting your blog and I can see that I have a lot to learn.

  6. Thanks, Cec, for the clarification. Whether or not to use an apostrophe in "writers conference" had me confused. Now I know. And thanks for giving the reason. You're a good teacher.

  7. Cec, you are truly an inspiration to me. I read everything that you write in your blog and I am so thankful that you take the time to do it. God Bless and hope all is going well with you and your family.


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