Wilcox Editing

The Particular: Editing Weblog

Lorraine M. Lopez a Finalist for PEN/Faulkner Award

I am pleased to announce that Lorraine M. Lopez’s collection Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories (BkMk Press, 2009) was a finalist for the 2010 PEN/Faulkner award. I copyedited the title story when it premiered in Alaska Quarterly Review volume 23, issues 1&2, in 2006. Lopez is an English professor at Vanderbilt University. As a finalist for this prestigious literary award, won by Sherman Alexie for his collection War Dances (Grove Press, 2009), Lopez will receive $5,000 and be honored at a ceremony in May held in Washington DC. Congratulations, Ms. »

Word of the Day

Today’s word is:

(n) something that covers or encloses; esp : an enveloping layer (as a skin, membrane, or cuticle) of an organism or one of its parts

Found in Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.), section 1.109.
“Hard covers are usually constructed of laminated cardboard over which is stretched an integument of cloth, treated paper, or vinyl or some other plastic.”

Passive Voice

If you have ever taken a composition course, your instructors have probably admonished you not to use passive voice. But what exactly is passive voice, and why shouldn’t one use it?

I have noticed some confusion in the writing world between the idea of a passive construction (a more general concept) and the specific grammatical phenomenon called passive voice. »

Word of the Day

I’d like to start a new tradition in 2010 of keeping a log of interesting words I find throughout my travels. Definitions are from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate 11.

Today’s word: hecatomb

  1. an ancient Greek and Roman sacrifice of 100 oxen or cattle 2. the sacrifice or slaughter of many victims.

Found in Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, trans. Andrew Hurley, in “In Memoriam, J.F.K.”:

In the mid-seventeenth century, vengeance had employed [this bullet] for the assassination of Sweden’s Gustavus Adolphus, in the midst of the public hecatomb of a battle.”

Comma Between Adjectives? Part III: Approaching the Grey

If you’ve read parts I and II of my Comma Between Adjectives? series, you already have a lot to think about when making your decision about comma usage: are the adjectives coordinate or cumulative? Are they in fact adjectives, or are they modifying nouns? This post will give you one more way to think about the problem. It will also show that, even armed with all the analytical tools from parts I through III, you may encounter cases that defy a tidy understanding. »


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

The Particular: Editing Weblog