Denise M Taylor

Writing Consultant I Editor I Proofreader I Teacher

From mums and dads, aunts and uncles, to queens and kings, princesses and princes—there is often confusion amongst writers: when to capitalise and when not to capitalise these names? I am frequently asked questions such as: ‘Why did you change the capitalisation of ‘Dad’ in the sentence to lower case?’ The simplified answer I can give to this query is […]

Dangling modifiers (often participles) continue to hang around in sentences, probably because most writers (and readers) are indifferent to them. Some work, but most don’t. This month I have encountered so many of the latter from various sources that it has piqued my interest and motivated me to do some thinking on the subject. You may ask: What are dangling […]

These days, if we land on the Home page of a business website, we not only want an instant summary of the service or the product/s, we also want it presented in a personalised, eye-catching, well-written nutshell. However, what we’re often faced with is poor grammar and jargon-riddled writing that shows an obvious lack of thought and editing. The ability […]

A few years ago I wrote a thesis with its focus the mid-nineteenth-century painting by British artist Valentine Prinsep, ‘The flight of Jane Shore’. I researched Jane Shore’s life to the point of obsession and got to know this medieval royal mistress so well that I thought I could speak for her—write her story in the genre of historical fiction. […]

This is my second article about words that have been used in the wrong context by writers whose manuscripts I have assessed, edited or proofread. Was it a historic or historical event? Was it a continual or continuous noise? Is someone illusive or elusive? The confusion can occur because these words are spelt similarly or sound similar, or both, so it’s understandable […]

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. […]

Travel writing often ends up being fantasy. The idea of the writer-artist as an independent traveller embodies a romantic notion that the source of his or her inspiration is an unrestrained inner life. English travel writer, Bruce Chatwin (1940-89,) was a post-Vietnam-War traveller, content to travel alone and live in ‘native’ standards of comfort. His writing style is as intoxicatingly […]

‘Good’ editors have a demonstrable knowledge of language, written expression, content development and writing styles. They share a common goal: to help authors improve the quality and structure of their writing in order to increase its potential in targeting readers, and impressing publishers. Sounds straightforward, but there are many questions I need to ask the author/client before editing begins. Every editing […]

When I read the first page of a novel, or a manuscript that crosses my desk for appraisal, I want my senses to be immediately engaged and on alert. There may be intrigue, which grabs my attention, but if I don’t get a visual hit that stimulates my senses, and in particular, a sense of place, then I’m often disappointed. […]