Wilcox Editing Services

The Particular: Editing Weblog

Comma Between Adjectives?

You may have heard the prescription that two adjectives falling before a noun should be separated by a comma. In fact, the rules of English syntax are far more complex than this in the case of prenominal modifiers. Knowing the difference between coordinate and cumulative adjectives is an important piece of the puzzle. »

If You Kill All Your Darlings, You Will Die Alone

Many editors subscribe to William Faulkner’s famous advice that a writer should “kill her darlings,” ie. delete turns of phrase to which she is particularly attached. The rationale behind this bit of wisdom is that most times, the writer becomes attached to a word or phrase because she thinks it is especially literary or beautiful, not because it meshes and belongs so well in the piece. In fact, if a sentence does not mesh or move the piece of writing forward, it does not belong. But there are other remedies for this problem than cutting.  »

On Editing

It’s been a year since I struck out on my own as a freelance editor, and I still love the challenge, the freedom, the ability to help an author articulate her/his vision. After seven years of editing, I am still most attracted to copyediting. It’s like being the relief pitcher in baseball or the glaze artist brought in to finish a piece of tile work. The author has brought the piece 95% of the way home, and I get to step in and help buff it up just that last little bit. What a privilege to do what I do for a living. »


Erin Wilcox is an intelligent and talented developmental editor. She identified the nuggets of gold buried in my novel’s first draft—key scenes that were the heart of the story—and gave me a focus for revision.”

Lauren Sweet,
Aladdin's Samovar