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A few words on
The Cranky Editor's
crankiness

The following excerpts are from The Cranky Editor's Book of Intolerable Fox Paws (Oops! Faux Pas!).

Is the author really that cranky? No, not always. I'm glad that most people know me as an upbeat fellow with a ready smile, who sees humor in just about everything in life. I am, however, sincerely cranky about the decline of writing skills. But in dispensing the helpful Fox Paw Remedies in this book, I'm trying to be gentle about it. Really. There is plenty of hand-holding in this book to balance the scolding.

As an occupational species, editors generally tend to become more cranky as time goes on. The crankiness is the external manifestation of accumulated exasperation built up from a half-century of cleaning up everyone else's messes. Please know that when I refer harshly to those who commit Intolerable Fox Paws, I don't mean to deny their decency and value as human beings. They may be fine folks of charitable heart, who are unfailingly kind to children and small animals. All I'm saying is they don't know what the hell they're doing.

I may be cranky, but I'm here to offer compassionate assistance. Such assistance has been offered by others in numerous fine books written in the last 20 years that gently suggest or brightly prod new do-it-yourselfers to elevate the quality of their written or printed communication. Yet the light-and-friendly approach obviously has not reached everyone. So I'm trying the irascible, direct, no-nonsense approach. The motive is the same --- to give sincere, earnest, expert guidance --- but the tone of delivery is different.

- R.W. Bacon


A few words
on language
prescriptivism

Editors are sometimes stereotyped as pathologically rigid guardians of excruciatingly correct language, but the stereotype is not the fact. Readers should understand from the outset that The Cranky Editor is cranky, but not an inflexible grammatical "lint-picker."

For example, it's OK to split an infinitive once in awhile. And you can start a sentence with a conjunction when it helps the flow. Sometimes. Same with sentence fragments. Just make sure you prove to your editor that you "know the rules before you break 'em." Professional editors accept that the language is fluid, evolving over time, and they make it part of their job to stay up-to-date. However, to ensure clear communication at any point in time or history, we depend on fixed standards of grammar, usage, punctuation, and typographic style. That's why the newest revision of the AP Stylebook is always within reach.

If you are an "editor-by-default," the buck stops with you. You're responsible for the grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation, and typographic style consistency that makes written communication possible. In your heart, you may not want to be a prescriptivist, but at the 11th-hour deadline, it's you, the editor, on that particular day at least, who must enforce that stylebook consistency.

- R.W. Bacon

The Cranky Editor's Seminar:
Helpful Writing & Style Tips
So You Won't Look Stoopid

The Cranky Editor's Helpful Writing & Style Tips So You Won't Look Stoopid is a self-contained illustrated lecture presentation, with digitally-projected graphics illustrating the presenter's key points. The program's content is based on The Cranky Editor's Book of Intolerable Fox Paws (Oops! Faux Pas!): Helpful Writing & Style Tips So You Won't Look Stoopid, by veteran journalist, editor, publication designer, and typographer R.W. Bacon.

Topics are presented in the order that the business or organizational writer encounters them in a typical project: Goals, purpose, & organization; wimpy verbs & clumsy sentences; flabby phrases & boring words; dumb usage & spelling errors; ambiguities & oversights; sloppy punctuation; typographic style consistency; typographic, design, & layout blunders; and file preparation for print or the Web. Each registered attendee receives a copy of The Cranky Editor's Book of Intolerable Fox Paws (Oops! Faux Pas!) as a take-home study guide to reinforce the material covered in the lecture presentation.

Like the book, this seminar is designed for the non-professional writer --- the corporate "draftee," small-business person, solo entrepreneur, or newsletter "editor" --- who is shouldered with the responsibility of churning out marketing materials, newsletters, advertisements, and press releases. Not everyone has equal facility with written language --- there are folks with advanced degrees in marketing communications who can't write a coherent paragraph. But that doesn't mean that a motivated individual with only modest aptitude can't improve the organization of their ideas, streamline the presentation of their words, and clean up usage, spelling, and punctuation errors. This seminar is for those motivated individuals who want to improve the quality of the written materials that their business or organization depends upon for success. Therefore this seminar is ideal for small business groups; non-profit volunteer organizations; professional associations; and indeed all who use the written word to communicate on paper or on the Web.

The presenter's entertainingly cranky persona, combined with the humorous examples of dull business-speak, flabby phrasing, and clueless usage, ensure that attendees remain awake and alert --- and more importantly, that they retain and use the information presented.

Helpful Writing & Style Tips So You Won't Look Stoopid
is available in two formats:

The One-Hour Seminar. The compact one-hour program is a tightly-focused "crisis intervention," showing attendees how to identify the most commonly-seen "Fox Paws" (Faux Pas) in their writing, and how to remedy them. This seminar does not open the door to elegant, flowery, or stratospherically-rhapsodic writing. Instead, it deals with the mundane-but maddening concerns, like where to put the quotation marks, how to make your verbs agree with their subjects, and why even a marginally-educated person should know the difference between burrow and burro. The quick-fixes imparted in this presentation, especially in the area of typographic style consistency --- along with follow-up study with The Cranky Editor's Book of Intolerable Fox Paws (Oops! Faux Pas!) --- will help attendees present their writing in a way that at least looks more credible and convincing, while it awaits further sharpness and polish attained only through study and practice.

The Three-Hour Seminar. The three-hour program goes beyond the "crisis intervention" to explore each category of the Intolerable Fox Paws (Faux Pas) in greater depth. For business or organizational writers who are also "designers-by-default" who must shepherd their writing into graphic production, a segment of the presentation is devoted to the basics of functional design, including an introduction to typography, photo editing, and digital file-preparation for printing. For follow-up study, attendees receive a copy of The Cranky Editor's Book of Intolerable Fox Paws (Oops! Faux Pas!).

To arrange a seminar for your group, first read the Booking Information page, then contact the presenter directly to discuss details.