Friday, February 26, 2010

Movie Time, Again!

Welcome to another installment of GlobalWatchWatch Theater, featuring Laura and Oleg.

It's not my best work, but consider the source material I had to work with.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Because I am lazy.

The person who typed in Global Watch uses the verb "unfold" 13 times in the course of the story.

Events unfold.
Details unfold.
Plans unfold.

I'm not going to bore you by posting every instance of "unfold," because I myself am almost drooling as though I've been lobotomized. I'd hate to do that to you. It's as though the person who typed in Global Watch picked up the word "unfold" from some favorite dimestore novel, and became mesmerized by how you could use it as part of a metaphor. But that would be giving him too much credit.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I also hate Kyp.

Here's another one of Global Watch's stellar paragraphs.

I was unaware that you could feel sick to more than one stomach; how else can I explain Kyp's feeling sick to a specific one--"this" stomach? Maybe he is a cow. This would make Global Watch interesting, but it's highly unlikely.
The second error I've highlighted is poor use of the "not only...but also" construction. I think leaving out the "also" causes some confusion. It's not the worst crime committed in this e-book, but it's symptomatic of laziness and incompetence. In fact, the person who typed in Global Watch could have avoided the construction all together by saying, "He had just missed the entire overview of Oleg's plan, and Rachel was not privy to that information, either." He could have, but I think we all know he didn't.
And so, we arrive at the last sentence, in which the person who typed in Global Watch goes for the verbal equivalent of a triple axel into a double Lutz. (Sorry, I watched some Olympic figure skating.) Well, it's not that hard for someone who knows how to write well, but we all know who we are dealing with here. He tries to say that Kyp hates failing a mission more than anyone else does, but he phrases that comparison in such a way that it seems as though nobody hated failing a mission more than they hated Kyp. This could have been clarified by adding the word "did" after "Kyp." Also, the "then/than" error leads to another deduction. And so, another medal-less outing for Global Watch. Way to represent America, loser.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Compatriot!

Please read The Self-Publishing Review.
It's a blog run by a professional editor, with a simple concept:
Here are the rules. You send me a copy of your self-published book, and I'll read it. If I like it I'll review it here, and will be generous with my praise.

What's the catch? I'm an editor, and expect published books to be polished. I'm going to count all the errors I find in spelling, punctuation and grammar and when I reach fifteen I'm going to stop reading. I'll work my way through up to five pages of boring prose or bad writing before I give up.

I think she would give up on Global Watch after about two pages.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Another of my favorite paragraphs.

I like this a lot.

And here's why.
Everyone at Global Watch is afraid. How afraid? Very, VERY afraid.
The fate of Democracy is at their feet. Are they going to kick it? Pick it up? Step over it? The suspense builds.
And in the middle of this epic, world-changing, terrifying scene, Max Park has one thing on his mind: getting with his ex-girlfriend.

You're a real American hero, Max Park.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let It Bleed.

I will give Global Watch this compliment: It's eco-friendly.
By being an e-book, it doesn't require any paper. And by being utterly unpublishable, it won't take up space in a publisher's warehouse or in the remainder bin of a bookstore. So score one for the trees.
If it were printed on paper, and had I purchased a copy, I would not have been content with merely throwing it into the recycle bin. That would have left open the possibility that a homeless person might have found it, and that would be cruel. No, I would have had to shred my copy, and that would have wasted electricity. So, score one for energy consumption.
Global Watch is 355 pages, or about 180 pieces of paper. If it had to be self-published, I'm glad it was as an e-book. That's a lot of paper that was saved.
And that brings me to today's GlobalWatchWatch writing lesson: economy of language. Global Watch didn't have to be 355 pages. With a box of red pens and some time, the person who typed in Global Watch could have taken it down to a manageable 200 pages. Not that the story would have been any less contrived or predictable or offensive, but at least the torture would have been over quickly.
Take this excerpt, for instance.

There are a number of problems here. What does "filled with dark mahogany wood" mean? Is someone using the conference room to store lumber? Also, what makes it belong at the top of a 100 story office building? Is it designed to withstand the high winds at that altitude? It goes back to choosing to "show" rather than "tell." The person who typed in Global Watch needs some serious work in this area.
Another misstep is describing Global Watch as not being tall. Did people say that the John Hancock company was a tall company because the John Hancock building is pretty damn tall? Only if they were toddlers.
Adding to my misery is the phrase "awash with light and windows." How is a room "awash with windows"?
Enough. I could spend all day on this post, but I have to go spraypaint graffiti on some cars. Just kidding. Here's my point: All this trash writing can be avoided with merciless use of the red pen to get rid of unnecessary words and phrases. Here's my edit of this section. I hope the person who typed in Global Watch appreciates what I'm doing for him.

Kyp surveyed the conference room where he had masterminded missions for the last five years. Spacious enough for 50 people, it was brightly lit by bulletproof windows. Its dark mahogany furniture could have been in a room at the top floor of a corporate skyscraper, even though Global Watch’s building was nowhere near that tall for security reasons. In the center of the room, James Macintyre and Kyp's three friends sat at a broad conference table. Despite his familiarity here, Kyp had never had such a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.

That section went from 142 words to 94. If I did that to the rest of Global Watch, it would be a third shorter. All I did was figure out that the person who typed in Global Watch was trying to do two things:
1. Describe the conference room;
2. Say that Kyp had stomach problems;
and then cut out every word that didn't accomplish either of those goals. It's that simple.
You're welcome, Global Watch.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


There's something icky about this sentence.

It's the use of "contaminate."
Whatever you do, don't do what I did and think about the meaning of this sentence. If you do, you'll think that Kyp had left a contaminating substance on Laura. I don't want to conjecture about the nature of that substance; I don't want to speculate about the nature of that substance's impurity. I'll leave it at that. The core message of this sentence is that Kyp "contaminated" Laura.
Ick ick ick.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Somebody's been drinking.

And not in a William Faulkner or Dylan Thomas in vino veritas sort of way, either.

I say "drinking" because this sentence reads as though it was just vomited up after many, many pulls off the boxed wine. Let's discuss. I'll ignore the comma and hyphen problems, because far worse crimes are being committed here.
First, it is far too long. When sentences start going past three lines, they begin to lose their connection to the original thought. And it's true in this case. We start off with "far reaching and unpredictable repercussions" and end with protecting the planet from "the evils that lurked within." I don't know what this means. Are there molemen within the planet? Morlocks? Dragons? Any of those three would have made Global Watch so much more exciting.

Second, there are other ideas dropped in half-heartedly. Who is this "new acquaintance"? It's not clear. And the idea of her vow doesn't go anywhere. As I said, it's just an idea dropped in there to fill up space.

So, to do my duty as an editor, let me propose the following rewrite.
"She could see how many actions could have far reaching and unpredictable repercussions, such as angering a subterranean race of humanoids. Though she was too dumb to know what "repercussion" meant, she swore that she would fight to protect the planet from these molemen."

Above: The character upon which the villain in Global Watch is based.

Monday, February 8, 2010

U.S. citizens

Why not just say "Americans"? Or, "the American people."

I don't get this one. It's technically correct to say "U.S. citizens," but is it necessary? The person who typed in Global Watch likes to use phrases like this to show he can use the language of politics. But if you think about, "citizen" is a legal definition that applies to some people in America, but not everyone. Is Global Watch saying that a foreign national in the United States would not know who the good guys were, and who the bad guys were? Is Global Watch saying that a recent immigrant wouldn't be able to tell the difference?
Global Watch, you are a xenophobe and you should be ashamed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book 2 in the exciting series, Global Watch

I'm still waiting on it.
My theory is is that the person who typed in Book 1 in the exciting series, Global Watch, has found this blog and is working on doing a real job of editing Book 2. I could be wrong.

The only information I could find on Book 2 in the exciting series, Global Watch, comes from the Global Watch blog.

Whereas most spelling errors in Global Watch resulted in the wrong word being used (e.g, "viscous" for "vicious," or "rouse" for "ruse"), this spelling mistake indicates a new level of laziness, as the spelling checker is now being completely ignored.

If this is any indication of what's to come, Book 2 in the exciting series, Global Watch will keep me busy for a while.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sloppy Joe

I think the adjective that describes this selection of Global Watch is "sloppy." Not a lot of care or thought went into the mechanics of such an action-packed fight scene.

First sloppy error: That dangling participle. The brawl is not switching techniques at random; Kyp is.
Sloppy the second: There is no clear actor in the sentence "The fight was beginning to feel like being back..." The fight probably reminded Kyp of being back at the training room, but how is the average reader supposed to figure that out?
Third helping of sloppy? After "headquarters," there should be a colon. Because language was probably oral at first, a writer should delve into the primeval forces behind his craft and read his sentences out loud, to make sure they sound right. I took a shot of whiskey to help with the pain, and I read this sentence out loud. It didn't sound right.
And for sloppy dessert? I hate the construction: [subject] feel like [dependent clause]. One can feel like crap. But one feels as though he just had one shot of whiskey too many.

Global Watch, you've got a lot to learn.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A brief note.

"Best of the best."

I despise that phrase.
Anybody who uses it three times gets my eternal scorn.