October 19: Dangling modifiers
Hi there! You are reading a new weekly writing tips segment written by me, Joel MacKenzie, The Peak’s Copy Editor! Tune your eyes in every week to this corner of The Peak for writing tips and ideas to breeze through your B Courses.
Let me start by saying that editing copy, or editing our paper’s articles, is a lot of fun. There’s nothing more satisfying than holding a warm, newly printed paper every Monday, knowing that I had an integral say in every delicious bit of punctuation, phrasing, and hyphenation that went into every section. I get a dry tongue just thinking about it!
Mondays, the day our papers are usually delivered, are truly my vacation days of the week. Saturday and Sunday, I wait virtually the whole time in a ball of anxiety in anticipation of holding that fresh, ripe, wet-with-ink Peak against my face, knowing that I had an integral say in every delicious word that went on those pages. And knowing, of course, that the jokers at Douglas College’s newspaper The Other Press couldn’t cook up a paper if they had their tongues behind their backs! Can I state the obvious? Their pages are thin, chalky, and only to be chewed through with a stiff drink handy!
But I’m getting beside myself! Now incoming: writing advice. Here’s an example of a dangling modifier:
“Being such a lousy swimmer, you won’t see me at the pool any time soon.”
Come on back to this corner of The Peak every week for more writing tips from yours truly. See you next week, and never put down your pen!
October 26: Spelling
I’m very excited and contented to see that last week’s article, after weeks of attempts, was finally overlooked by our EIC Max, and now has way too much momentum to be erased behind my back again!
This week, let’s talk about the writing problem on everyone’s mind: how to spell “Halloween”!
Is it one “L”? Is it two “O”s?
The name “Halloween” has evolved from “All Hallow’s Eve,” which was a Pagan holiday coming one day before Hallow’s, the Christian apple-bobbing competition day! Halloween was made for kids, by kids, as a way to spook others into dropping their prized Pagan candy. This act, called, “trick-or-treating,” is derived from root words which roughly translate to “kids only!”
Trick-or-treating isn’t for anyone past 13, I’d venture to say. So, SFU students, if you’re thinking about taking part in this child’s game, remember: don’t!
For adults, the holiday is a time for getting away from the kids, seeing neighbours, dressing up like your closest friends, and making delicious papier-mache apples. This year, stay home and do that, because I’ll be watching! And I’ve started a community watch group for Burnaby! Haha.
Unless you want an issue of The Peak, which I’ll gladly give you! But just know that I’ll give you a Peak any time, because I’m proud of it, and because it’s free, not because I’m rewarding you for acting like a child on a child’s day! So just stay at home if you’ve got nothing better to do than destroy someone else’s irreplaceable heirloom carbonatite statues!
They had real sentimental value, as they say! Also, you wore your SFU sweaters over your costumes!
But really, Peaks can be sweet as candy, if prepared properly! Haha.
Halloween is spelled, “H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N.”
See you in next week’s pleasant-to-the-tongue Peak for your regular writing tips! Never put down your pen!
November 1: Fact checking
Hey, readers! This is your Copy Editor with more copy editing advice!
While this probably goes without saying, it’s November first, and I’m really tired today. This daylight savings really takes it out of me every March and November. I can’t say I’m too grateful to our Editor-in-Chief for being the first to tell me about it two and a half years ago! Haha. I completely forgot about this nightmare of a holiday until he reminded me again this Halloween.
Frankly, I don’t understand how we can keep setting our clocks back an hour every six months. I don’t ever seem to get my clocks right on the first try, and I’ll tell you why: I’m losing sleep! I don’t know what Edison was thinking.
Of course, the killer is the daylight savings week. The hours between one and four a.m. were once my most productive, especially for writing (I’m a writer, what can I say?), but with these hours completely erased from the day, it screws up my whole endocardium rhythm.
But I know you’re counting on your Copy Editor’s Corner writing advice hot and fresh in this week’s paper! I’m so tired. But let’s not forget we’re in this together!
This week’s editing tip: check your facts. Always check all the facts in all your sources, because this can be the difference between. . . things being right or wrong.
I’m just so exhausted.
Why do we do this to ourselves? I don’t even understand what “daylight” I’m “saving.” I just want to sleep! Am I right? Come on, Trudeau, we need real change in Canada! Daylight savings change.
Anyway, this week’s editing tip: etymology. Check your etymology, like the etymology of “daylight savings,” for instance. Always look up the etymology of every word in your paper, because it might reveal historical details that will help your writing.
Do you know what I mean?
I hope this is clear. I’m just really tired.
Okay, never put down your pen keep writing!
November 9: Hypotheticals
Hello, SFU students! Ready for your writing advice?
Recently, I received some fan mail! Basically, it read: “Joel, copy editing is a blast! But you need to give your writing advice sooner in your article!”
First, writer, thank you for the yellow carbonless CFB letter. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this delectable stuff; it’s smooth but still holds a modest, satisfying crunch. Draped in the writing of blue gel pen, this letter had a soft, dampened centre, but proved delicate and light, holding hints of hickory and ash.
In response to your letter, I think you need to get your own column! Haha.
This week’s writing advice concerns using “were” or “was” in hypothetical situations, e.g.: “if I was/were a DJ, all the world would dance!”
In this situation, the proper word is “were.” Here’s some examples of properly-constructed hypothetical sentences woven into one paragraph:
If I were a DJ, I would be worried about the decaying state of DJ jobs. If I were a DJ, I would promote a world of listening. Electronic music is currently dominated by electronic music robots, so if I were able to be anything, I would be a real, human DJ. If I were able to spread my DJ love to the entire planet, were I a DJ, I would create a world where people don’t war. I would promote listening, not mindless robot watching. If I were a DJ, I would break the digital technology spell that is hypnotizing our generation.
Hypnotising our generation, SFU.
Well, until next time: never put down your pen!
November 16: Introductions
Do you dream? Do you dream of holding something bigger than you in your hands? What about giving that dream gift to the world? Do you dream it as big as an elephant baby — as docile, as fragile?
Of course, I refer to the dream of DJing. Do you hold your DJing dream in your arms? Do you nurture it? That dream of spinning such fresh beats that the whole world would stop and listen?
SFU students, today’s writing advice concerns introductions. Essay introductions should always start with the general and hone in towards the specific. Here, for instance, I started with something general (dreaming) then moved to the specific (hands). I then played with the general again (dreaming), and flew back to the specific (baby elephants). I follow the elephant talk with concrete, tangible questions about the meaning of DJing.
This dissertation would be followed with more ideas concerning what it means to be a DJ. I would mention, for instance, the meaning of having a job that creates popularity, centred around sharing the gift of chilling with the world; a career about pressing play and being the dopest supporter of those vying to chill.
The monotony of class is starting to get to me, SFU students. I’m not sure how much longer I can go without DJing, without lighting the lights, chilling the dance, spinning the dopest spins, and flying the flyest ills. I’m not sure how much longer I can stay in classes, with only one delicious Peak page per day to look forward to. (I encourage you to consume more, but my doctor encourages me to consume less.)
Here, I would springboard into more specifics about DJing, while centreing around dreaming to dream.
Dream to dream of your essay coming to fruition, SFU students!
Never put down your pen.
November 23: Don’t give up
Hello SFU students!
Thank you for tuning in again to the hippest corner of the newspaper!
I’m happy to report that it has been a fantastic week for myself as a self-publicizing DJ. I’ve performed two shows across the Lower Mainland, playing both major and minor hits from today’s Top 40.
DJing as an art has proven a bit more difficult an endeavor than I was hoping for this week. Going into this, I thought that DJing was simply pressing play on a Top 40 hit song for whatever pool or house party I’m at; I didn’t think I would have to play different Top 40 hits to suit the room’s always-changing temperature at any given moment; I didn’t think that I would have to press play on a given smash hit in exact synchronicity with people’s many dance moves. But I’m not giving up!
Appropriately, this week’s writing/DJing advice is to never give up! When people get down on your slightly unorthodox writing rituals, like eating a little bit of construction paper to clear your mind between paragraphs, don’t give up! When your Top 40 smash hit isn’t perfectly synchronized with a dancer’s floor punch, don’t give up! When people shout rude things at you without thinking, don’t give up!
Ignore them! You are in this for you. You’ve got a life of love, dancing, and fresh beats ahead of you, not one of petty anger.
You’re also trying. You’re trying and they’re not. And that’s not their fault, but they’re just not recognizing that.
So their insults don’t matter very much! They aren’t in your shoes. They’ve never stood in front of crowds of dozens, and they don’t appreciate how hard it all is.
Ignore them, SFU students.
It’s fine. You’ll be fine.
And never put down your pen!
November 29: Sentimentality
Thank you for your support with this column.
Thank you, friends at The Peak, for hiding that one typo (you know) from our Editor-in-Chief Max. You look out for me.
Thank you to my beautiful girlfriend Elizabeth, who stayed up with me through late nights of searching for the perfect writing advice. Thank you for the endless toe massages, for reading me to sleep with countless Wiktionary pages, and for giving me the soothing, gentle haircuts that I needed, even when I didn’t know how to ask for them.
This week’s advice is about being sentimental. Sentimentality can be a powerful force in your final essays, SFU students. It adds personalization. Maybe it can cheer you up, and remind you there’s still good in the world.
I’m just. . . My DJing career tanked. It’s gone. I applied to venues, like the nightclub; to theatres, like the Queen Elizabeth and Cineplex Odeon; to commodores, like the Commodore, to no avail. I tried busking, but I didn’t have electricity. I simply sung the latest top 40 hits with an acoustic guitar; passersby told me that I was no DJ. It’s been two weeks of this. I’m exhausted.
I’m almost finished at SFU. Five years ago, I was full of hope. I looked from the skyscraper that is university life onto a city of glimmering lights. In their rows and circles, I would see lives to live. Stories to tell. Tight beats to be spun.
Now I just see lights.
I almost have the degree, but what’s that piece of paper? What’s paper that will read “Joel” without “DJ” before it?
. . . But, SFU students, those lights? I’m gonna walk out into them. With a stomach of hot, fresh Peak articles; with a heart of hope. I’m gonna find my title. We all need to find our titles.
SFU students, you are the freshest. You are the illest.
Never put down your hope.