Alice McVeigh - professional ghostwriter/editor, published novelist

Alice's sample edits

Alice's sample edits

Example of corporate-style writing:

As a company, this has been a great year, full of prime impact and total synergy, one which should and will enable our company to rise up to the next level. This year we have truly empowered our work-force with our own corporate values, which include thinking outside the box and incorporating ‘best practice’ within the overall context of our entire company from the top down.

As far as you, our clients, are concerned, we’re dedicated to providing cutting edge solutions and leveraged performances for you, who have kindly trusted us to fulfil part of your own corporate goals.

Alice’s edit:

This has been a tremendous year for us, one which I believe will help to move our entire company forward. I hope, at least, that we have succeeded in inspiring every member of our team to feel that they are an integral part of our recent achievements.

Our clients are also a major part of what we do, and I hope that those of you here tonight know how much we appreciate your trusting us with assisting the fulfilment of your own corporate goals.


 

Example of dialogue in need of greater brevity and punch:

He said, ‘She did it.’

She returned, ‘I know she did, Sam. I was there, wasn’t I.’

‘So, what are you going to do about it?’ he interrogated.

‘I don’t know.’

He said, ‘Why not, Sadie? It’s obvious.’

She said crossly, ‘I don’t want to send my own mother to prison!’

Alice’s edit:

‘She did it, Sadie.’

‘I know. I was there, wasn’t I?’

‘What’re you going to do about it?’

She only toyed with her mug, so Joe added, ‘Seems pretty obvious to me.’

She flashed back, ‘I don’t want to send my own mum to prison! What good would that do?’


 

Example of jargon-ridden writing:

Our school treats all children as stakeholders, providing valued-added state-of-the-art facilities while raising the bar on performance standards. Here, inquiry-based learning is combined with a rigorous curriculum to provide strategic plans to ensure pathways to success for your individual child’s personal potential.

Alice’s edit:

Our school treats each child as individuals, combining top-level facilities with challenging academic standards. Engagement with learning is prioritised; and a rigorous curriculum is tailored to maximise each pupil’s personal potential.


 

Example of overworked dialogue:

They walked through dark evergreens and pale green grass into a meadow liberally bestrewn with daisies and bluebells.

There he said suddenly, “Tell me, Becky, what you are thinking.”

She enthused, “How lovely the trees look against the pale blue sky!”

“But,” he added swiftly, and then stopped, adding, “Is that all, Becky?”

“Oh!” she said, blushing. “I think about you too, Dane.”

“Really?” he returned. “Do you really think about me?”

She said, turning up her delicate face with its pointed chin, and teased, “Maybe a little.”

“Becky!”

As he stopped and took her in his arms to kiss her Dane felt a thrill of longing and hopefulness. Was this, he wondered, what falling in love felt like?

Alice’s edit:

They walked in silence through a flowery meadow. Suddenly Dane said, “What are you thinking, Becky?”

“About that line of trees, against the sky.”

“Is that all?”

“Oh, I think about you—a little,” she admitted, with that characteristic sidelong smile. She had an elfin look, with her pointed chin and delicate features.

He said, “A little?”

“Perhaps more than a little.”

He swerved to face her. Tilting her chin, he kissed her warm lips, feeling a thrill of longing surge through him. Could this be what love felt like?


 

Example of pretentious music criticism:

The Philharmonic was on the most sublime form, the French horns redolent of fervid effervescence in the final movement, where the second theme was garnished by their principal oboe with a still more plangent tonality than usual.

Alice’s edit:

The Philharmonic was on sublime form in the finale, with the effervescent horns and the exquisitely plangent solo oboe particularly outstanding.
 


 

Example of overworked writing:

Taking everything into consideration, it is not unreasonable to expect a copy-editor to elucidate one’s prose, rendering one’s most complicated thoughts into something capable of being accessed by the public générale, as they say across the water.

Alice’s edit:

It’s reasonable to expect a copy-editor to produce prose that is both clear and cogent, rendering even the author’s most complex thoughts accessible to all.

(Note: all examples created by Alice, not taken from real life!)

 

Next page: How to be a Classical Music Agony Aunt >>

 

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