Coloring Outside the Lines

Child drawing with sidewalk chalk.Words are not sacred.

They are not holy.

They do not need to be handled with kid gloves.

Too many times in today’s publishing business, a writer’s creative manipulation of a word’s use is beaten brutally back by well-meaning copy editors. Make no mistake, these editors are only doing the jobs they’ve been hired to do. Not these hard-working folks’ fault, at all.


How many times has an Emily Dickinson been scared off of some healthy experimentation by a crushing round of edits?

How many times has a Charles Dickens faced debilitating backlash for a sentence running long and fanciful?

While I realize there is a time and place for both coloring inside and outside the lines, it is rather sad that new authors must restrain themselves within these black-and-white rules in order to get published.

My advice: Follow the rules. Get published. Get published lots. Then go crazy. Turn a noun into a verb. Flip a verb into an adjective. Fiddle with prefixes and suffixes until new words are born right there on your page. Then, fight for the word with your editor.

If you pick and choose your battles, an established writer can get away with wondrous things.

Until tomorrow…


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