Wilcox Editing Services

The Particular: Editing Weblog

Comma Between Adjectives? Part II: If It Walks Like a Duck But Has No Feathers . . .

Now that you know the difference between cumulative and coordinate adjectives, you might wonder, which kind of adjective is the word baseball in baseball cap? The word baseball describes the main noun cap, so would you ever place a comma between another modifer and baseball? »

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 a truly gifted literary copyeditor. Her reading of the text is both meticulous and informed, and her insights are luminous.”

Ronald Spatz,
executive founding editor,
Alaska Quarterly Review