Sigh…. Grammar… That elusive part of a sentence that can make or break what you write. Those pesky little verbs, adverbs, and ridiculously used adjectives. Those improper colons and commas. And then there are the clauses. Frankly, I still don’t know what they are. Thank God for my editor, Denise Vitola. I have been working with her for about 18 years now. She’s edited easily five of my manuscripts and a bunch of short stories and along the way has truly helped me to become a better writer. But I digress…..
Denise is editing my current WIP (work in progress). It’s a thriller about a girl avenging the death of her parents on their quest to find the mystical land of Xanadu. Ok, enough pre-promotion.
I sent Denise my manuscript and she sent me back edits. Here is my sentence, which to me seems a “tad” run on, but otherwise totally fine to my eye:
In his ever present black jeans and rock t-shirt, a bright tattoo of a flaming red phoenix could be seen on his right arm peeking out from underneath his shirt sleeve where it had rolled up.
I inquired, “what is possibly wrong with this sentence?” Apparently, I’ve faux pas’d like 5 times in one line… that HAS to be a record! Her reply? “You’ve strung together way too many clauses and so the impact of the sentence is lost in all the run-on description.”
Clauses? Now I have to worry about something called Clauses? Her explanation of the issues:
(In his ever present black jeans and rock t-shirt,) PARENTHETICAL CLAUSE, ALSO KNOWN AS A SUBORDINATE CLAUSE (a bright tattoo of a flaming red phoenix could be seen) PASSIVE VOICE (on his right arm) PARENTHETICAL CLAUSE peeking (out from underneath his shirt sleeve) PARENTHETICAL CLAUSE (where it had rolled up.) SUBORDINATE CLAUSE.
Her solution: A flaming red phoenix tattoo could be seen on his right arm, peeking out from under the rolled up sleeve of his rock t-shirt.
Brilliant and perfect.
I’m going to blame my parents for relocating me too much and completely missing 7th and 8th grade grammar by attending two different schools before returning back to the first one. By the time I got into my 9th grade Honors English class, when the teacher put that little rocket ship do-hickie thingie on the board for us to do something with, I asked “what is that?” She was not amused.
Problem was, I didn’t think I was being funny.
For anyone who is at all interested in working with a great editor – Denise is doing a special until Labor Day. Normally she charges $4 a page, but she’s only charging $2 a page, doublespaced, for your manuscript. If you wish to take your writing up to the next level and have a real writing coach work with you, with the work personalized specifically to your novel, I highly recommend her. Here’s her website: http://www.thomas-talks-to-me.com/editing/index.html