Denise M Taylor

Writing Consultant I Editor I Proofreader I Teacher

I read a lot of non-fiction for work: unpublished manuscripts, final drafts of theses, newsletters, educational resources, essays and business material. I also read non-fiction for my own pleasure and research. My response to each individual non-fiction writing that crosses my desk for appraisal is dependent on many variables; however, the initial challenge is to assess the clarity of the […]

There is no question that writers who approach me for an objective assessment of their unpublished manuscripts are passionate about what they have written, whether it is a work of fiction or non-fiction. However, even though some writers have more ‘talent’ than others, many lose the ability to be objective; it takes courage to plunge into the icy, foreign waters […]

Verbs have two voices: the ‘active’ and the ‘passive’. A sentence in which the subject performs the action of the verb creates an active voice and packs an immediate punch. A sentence using the passive voice is often dull and convoluted because some form of the helping verb ‘to be’ (am, is, are, was, were, being, been) attaches itself to […]

Verbs not only convey action and reveal personality in fiction, but they are capable of sharpening communication and meaning in non-fiction writing. The featured painting of horses by Lucy Kemp-Welch (‘Horses bathing in the sea’, 1899) captures the personality of each horse as they engage with the shoreline waves: one or two show fear, a couple rear, another hesitates, others submit. […]

Not long ago, I was proofreading a memoir written in Microsoft Word by a Melbourne writer who had contacted me after searching for ‘Proofreader Melbourne’. He spelt (or do you prefer ‘spelled’?) verandah without the ‘h’, which looks unfinished to me. When I added the letter ‘h’, the word was immediately underlined in red by MS Word, indicating that it […]

Are you gagging for another English­­­­ grammar quiz? If so, sharpen your red pencil and put on your proofreading thinking-cap! There is more than one error relating to grammar and punctuation in each of the following ten sentences. Can you spot them?  Each grammar ‘issue’ has been covered in the last few articles written for ‘The Art of Writing & […]

In the English language, the apostrophe has a lot to do with possession and omission. Its (not It’s!) misuse in punctuation is a hot topic . . . for editors and proofreaders, and anyone else who cares. The trend today is to say or write something in the briefest way possible—social media has made sure of that. So using the […]

Would you write: ‘the earth is round’ or ‘the Earth is round’? The rules governing capitalisation of words in sentences may seem straightforward, but, as writers, editors and proofreaders know, distinguishing between ‘proper’ and ‘common’ usage is often difficult, and style guides vary in their rules. As the featured image illustrates, medieval manuscript writers enlarged and decorated the first letter […]

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate? That is the question . . . The truth is, when trying to decide whether a hyphen needs to join two words, quite often grammar rules are not black and white, and in many instances you can decide for yourself. In general, British dictionaries and publishers are more inclined to hyphenate words than their […]

It is considered by many to be somewhat pretentious to call oneself a writer, and perhaps even more so to promote oneself as a writing mentor and editor. Maybe this is why the value of an editor is so decidedly under-valued, proof being the invisibility of an editor’s work in the writer’s final, polished writing. The most compelling and authentic […]