Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Simple v. simplistic; Apostrophe in a simple possessive; Faulty series list

All of the grammar mistakes for this article are excerpted from the website of Tiffany Lawson Inman, a freelance editor who also conducts online writing workshops, and from her guest article at They are used under the Fair Use provision of Title 17, U.S. Code.

"Did it feel like we were in the front row for that fight? I wish I could have shown you more…Go buy the book! I’ve seen more embellished fights that I’ve liked just as much, but for this scene, her simplistic style works."

Even professional writers confuse simple and simplistic now and then. That's why there are copy editors in this world.

Info for those who don't know this already . . . when you call someone's style simplistic, you're not complimenting that person. SIMPLE means uncomplicated, straightforward, easily understood, like that, and is often used in a complimentary way. SIMPLISTIC means oversimplified, and is always used negatively. Did you pay attention to that? It is always used negatively. Don't use it when you mean simple, or even when you mean very simple. Use it only when you mean portrayed as being simpler than is actually the case . . . paying inadequate attention to applicable details or complexities.

"Get a fight choreographer/stuntman insiders view of writing fictional violence . . . ."

This is a possessive form. It requires an apostrophe between the r and the s.
"Get a fight choreographer/stuntman insider's view of writing fictional violence . . . ."

"I am a freelance fiction editor. I concentrate on concept and line by line editing, writing teacher, blogger, writer, actor, and all around artist."

The second sentence is presented as a series list, but it makes no sense as one. Item 1 ("concept and line by line editing") is fine because it associates properly with the subject/verb setup ("I concentrate on"), but items 2-6 do not belong. Items 2-6 are not additional things the subject concentrates on, are they? After the first comma, the structure of the sentence inexplicably shifts from things the subject does to things the subject is.

I'm pretty sure I know what happened here. All of these things that the subject is--items 2-6 of the second sentence--were probably meant to be appended to the first sentence, but somehow ended up being tacked onto the second sentence instead. If we relocate them to their proper place, everything makes sense:
"I am a freelance fiction editor, writing teacher, blogger, writer, actor, and all-around artist. I concentrate on concept and line-by-line editing."

Friday, March 2, 2012

More Bad News for Paper

The AAP year-end figures and the Nielsen Bookscan reports for 2011 are out, and those who have made it their business to play down the decline of paper publishing and the burgeoning popularity of electronic books are finding their job getting tougher by the minute.

Every print category except religious has fallen in sales for multiple years now. I'll limit the numbers to the areas with which fiction writers may have more interest.

First, Nielsen (the same Nielsen with the TV surveys) Bookscan, which monitors about 75% of print transactions, reports that
total print sales were down 8.9% in 2011, after having dropped 4.5% in 2010,
and that
adult fiction in print fell by 7.2% in 2010, and from there
dropped 17.7% in 2011.
It further reports that
mass market paperbacks were down 23.4% for 2011,
now having plunged 60% since 2008.

The Association of American Publishers, the chief organization of the publishing industry that needs no further introduction to professional writers, released its 2011 year-end figures on Monday. Among other things, it says that
every print publishing category except religious books declined in 2011,
and that
2011's ebook sales were up 117% over 2010's, for the first time ahead of the paper categories of mass market paperback, children's hardcover, and religious titles.

Bear in mind that these aren't the figures of some group wanting the numbers to look bad, but those of the AAP itself, the organization with maybe the most interest in painting as rosy a picture as possible.

That kind of data is hard to put a minimizing spin on.