The Nuances of Language: Editor’s Edition
Often, we get so caught up in the technicality of the English language that we forget to let lose the veritable army of ideas we have. Even before we finish writing our manuscripts, speeches, love letters, or anything that constitutes the arrangement of words into something else, the daunting task of putting words into paper and having to think it does matter already creates a tangible fear in the fiber of our very being.
Well, most bona fide writers will probably tell you, “Just write!”. And that is what should be done. Writing is simply the act of putting words together. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be a New York Times Best-Seller. It just has to have words. Words, words… a plethora of words. Just that. Don’t mind the details. Write!
When all is said and done, all the technical aspects of writing should only ever be a major concern during the late stages. That’s why editing is considered the “last mile” of writing. And doubly so, for only when you have something already written should you have to keep in mind the technical rules of the English language.
Previous editions of this series of articles have already tackled brevity and word choice. Delving even deeper into the nuances of writing, now that we’ve established the precondition of having something already written, we proceed onto a minor but nevertheless impactful topic: Word placement.
He told her that he loved her.
I know! I know! This example has been used (you could even say butchered) so many times that it’s almost become somewhat of a household lesson in writing circles and cliques. But the underlying meaning is an eternal testament to the variety and complexity of the English language. The overview? You just have to add “only” anywhere in the sentence indicated in the photo. Now, notice how placing it anywhere changes the sentence’s meaning every single time. English is beautiful that way!
Word placement is critical in writing. The placement could spell the difference between a well-written manuscript and a grammatically incorrect and non-compelling piece of writing. The most common placement errors I can note are the usage of “only,” “just,” etc.
Overall, it is recommended to put things, or in this case, words, where they rightfully belong. Avoid confusion. Enable comprehension.