Friday, March 4, 2011

The Pains and Perils of Reviewing Proofs – Part IV

No Sentence is an Island

Ah, this is one to remember when you review your proofs. NO sentence is an Island (my apologies to John Donne.) I have, at times, fiddled endlessly with one sentence, to get it just right.

But there are several pitfalls to watch out for:

A sentence can be well-crafted, but not fit in your particular piece because it doesn’t flow from and into the sentences before or after. This can be because the sentence length is too similar to the ones around it, or because the cadence or music of the words just don't sound right. No sentence is an Island.

A sentence can be well-crafted, but that particular perfect phrasing may not be true to your character’s voice. It must reflect the character, or be consistent with the narrator's voice. No sentence is an Island.

A sentence may be well-crafted but does it inadvertently repeat words in the sentences around it? No sentence is an Island.

When reviewing proofs, or for that matter, during any stage of editing, it's important to resist the temptation to over-fix a sentence. To remember the context.

Or to employ another metaphor, remember to look at the forest, not just the trees.

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