Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Mixed metaphors, sloppy writing

James Kilpatrick writes about rereading your writing to save yourself from gaffes (or from embarrassing yourself in front of your copy editor).

Careful reads would have saved people from some of these clunkers:
  • "All this worry about George W. Bush's 'goings-on' during the Vietnam War is a can of worms that the Republicans tried to crucify Clinton with that now has come back to bite them."
  • "Tea is no longer a stepsister to coffee, but has blossomed of its own accord into a swan."
  • "A plan to commemorate the route of massive Ice Age floods that reshaped the landscape of the Pacific Northwest with trails and interpretive centers will go before Congress next week..."
  • "Campos abducted Almendares and two children he fathered with her in Raleigh late Monday afternoon."
These are the types of errors we should be (and usually are) catching. But they are harder to spot than the poorly conjugated verbs and simple style errors. They take careful reading.

And that's why it would be good to keep some examples of these errors lying around to explain why indeed we need all that time to read a story -- because not everything can be caught in a five-minute dash. Sometimes we need to linger a little.


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