Skip to main content
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 1
I don't really intend these comments as criticism, but simply to illustate how my mind works while churning in editorial mode (which it is now, since I've been copyediting all day and into the night, and still have a lot of pages to go). If I were editing the excerpt, these are the kinds of things I'd flag for a rewrite:

peals of laughter turn suddenly into shrieks of terror, which attenuated as he fell

Attenuated? It's a fine verb, but it's too "technical" for the context. It distracted my attention from the action -- I spent several seconds wondering just how the sound of his shrieks changed. Did they become weaker as the distance grew? Thinner? Did the pitch change as his velocity increased?

Cap and Tom and Sparks and I stared at one another

The four are standing in a line at the edge of the platform, right? But "stared at one another" sounds rather like they are gathered round in a circle. If they are in a line and Cap and Tom and Sparks are staring at "I," then Cap would not be able to see Tom or Sparks' faces.

He put his hand over his mouth.

Why? From surprise? In dismay? To stifle a scream? Because he felt as if he might vomit? Be more specific.

Sparks ventured

A person might "venture" an opinion if they fear being rebuffed or criticized. But I don't think it's the appropriate verb when someone simply asks "What do we do now?"

Tears ran down [Sparks'] face, unnoticed. ... I looked over at Cap and thought I saw a moist glint in his eyes as well.

The "as well" suggests that the tears on Sparks face were noticed after all. (If it was Sparks who didn't notice, how does the narrator know this? The "voice" here is "I," not 3rd person omniscient so that we know what is going on in Sparks' mind.)

sat down heavily, like a marionette whose strings had suddenly been cut

Cliche alert! If the way that he sat is important, describe it in visual terms instead of relying on a metaphor.

Again, I don't intend my comments as criticism. But if the manuscript happened to wind up on my desk for editing, those are the kinds of nit-picking comments the author could expect.
Print the post  


When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.