When to Delete “That”

A piece of bossy advice often given to creative writers is to sweep through your manuscripts before you submit them and delete certain words. “Just,” “so,” “very,” and “really” vie for the top target, but the most popular prohibition of all might be of the word “that.”

A wet, shaggy dog walks through a puddle

Taming Messy URLs

From the perspective of writers and editors, URLs do their best work behind the scenes or just off the page, in a browser’s address bar. In that role—as an internet address that will take you to a specific page online—it doesn’t matter all that much what a URL looks like so long as it works.

Navigating Spaces in Manuscripts and Beyond

To a copyeditor working on a manuscript, a space is usually just a space, and line breaks are random, fluid occurrences that vary as text is added and deleted and moved around. Designers and typesetters will take the edited text and make it pretty for publication, in part by applying different types of spaces as needed to prevent unwanted breaks.

Very Long Sentences in Fiction

Recently, I was listening to the audiobook of James McBride’s Deacon King Kong, and at some point it struck me that we’d been in the middle of a sentence for quite a while. But it wasn’t just long—it was lyrical and purposeful. Pretty early on in the sentence, I began to realize it wasn’t primarily about an annual infestation of ants.

Overlapping speech bubbles

Prose, Interrupted: Signaling Breaks in Dialogue

Interruptions happen all the time in real life. People talk over each other and past each other; words collide and overlap. Sometimes an action or a thought rather than a person intrudes, causing a speaker to stop abruptly or, less dramatically, to trail off midsentence.