A few weeks back, I asked on Facebook if anyone else edited the books they were reading as they read. Many people commented that they did. Some said they didn’t edit if the sentence didn’t interrupt the story. For me, if I have to stop to figure out the meaning, I quickly edit and move on, feeling better.
There’s a sentence in a television commercial for a medication that always made George laugh, a warning for “those who take aspirin or the elderly.” As he explained, the sentence contained a warning for “those who take the elderly” although it didn’t seem to bother anyone else. What an easy fix to write, “the elderly and those who take aspirin.”
A sentence I read the other day. “He found a pair of boots that would fit him hanging in the closet.” Truly, my first thought was that he could wear these boots as he hung in the closet.” Logic took over. Of course, the BOOTS were hanging in the closet. The sentence wouldn’t have stopped me–the incredibly picky and easily confused reader–if written like this: “Hanging in the closet was a pair of boots that would fit him.”
And over and over, run on sentence beg me–simply implore me–to edit them, to cut them up into comprehensible units. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I cannot read Faulkner. He had one sentence that was a page and a half long. I could not handle it. I rush to add that Faulkner is one of the best novelists in the country and I’m not, but I still believe he’d profit from a little editing.
Do you ever edit as you read? Please share. It always makes me feel better to know I’m not alone.