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All the Words’ A Stage, All the Editors’ Merely Stage Props: Volume 2


The Nuances of Language: Definitive Edition


A good editor brings an objective eye to a piece of writing that the writer has long since lost. This, mind you, is a critical job. A writer is supposed to only think about what to write, not about how well he is writing with regards to the intricacies of English rules of grammar, punctuation, and syntax. 


This series of articles has tackled what most of the general populace fails to knock outside the park when it comes to writing. Volume 2 of this definitive edition continues with the minor but nevertheless impactful parts of the English rulebook. 


Hyphen/En-dash/Em-dash 


Many translators/editors don’t see any difference between hyphens and em dashes (- and —). Hyphens are usually used in compound words and for stutter of syllables, while em dashes are used for cut-off speech and explanation. 


Eg: He wasn’t muscle-bound but had an explosive force. (Compound words)


He was in-in-incapacitated. (stutter of syllables) 


“He loved you—” 


“As if I could believe that.” 


“—for such a long, long time.” (cut-off speech) 


Beijing—is a magnificent city (explanation) 


Punctuations in Stammer 


Use a hyphen when only a part of a word is stammered, and a comma when the entire word or phrase is stammered. 


Eg: He was in-in-incapacitated. 


He was in, in, in the bathroom. 


And how do I, how do I do that? 


Capitalization after colon 

No capitalization if the part behind a colon is not a complete sentence.  


Capitalization is required if the part behind a colon is a complete sentence.


Eg: The reason is simple: Both our common interests and mutual need are growing. 


Capitalization is required if several complete sentences follow the colon.


Eg: There are three steps to putting an elephant into a refrigerator: 


First, open the refrigerator. 


Second, put in the elephant. Third, close the door. 


Active voice and simple sentences are preferred in speech. 


Edited: Nightingale told me you wanted to discuss something with me.


Put statements in positive form. 

Make definite assertions. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating, noncommittal language.


E.g.: He was not very often on time. 


Change to: He usually came late. 


Don’t use short forms of phrases.

Such as gonna, dunno, etc., as it may sound inconsistent with the style of the whole novel. 


Sometimes too much is too little. Sometimes too little is too much. Know when to cut out limbs and pieces for brevity. Know when to put out more for dramatic effect. Writing is not a one-way street. It’s not a “one-size-fits-all” system. Write wisely! Write uniquely! 


Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
-Samuel Beckett


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