Monthly Archives April 2014

Critique Technique, Part 47 — Danglers

Shoes hanging from a wire
Photo by dhannte, via

When we think about dangling things—in writing, anyway—we usually think of dangling modifiers, the grammatical fumbles that lead to sentences like, “After spending weeks in the forest, the town was inviting.” So, the town spent weeks in the forest, eh?

For this article, though, I’m thinking about a different kind of dangler: a story line, event, action, or character the author lavishes some attention on, then forgets. It’s never developed, it’s never finished, it’s just left—you guessed it—dangling.

This is a continuity problem and it can be hard to catch, for both the author and the reviewer...

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Critique Technique, Part 46 — Padding

A filled packing box
Photo by slideshowmom via

There are times when padding is acceptable, even desirable. When preparing something fragile for shipping, for example. Or filling out a Santa Claus suit. But in writing? Not so much. Not today, anyway.

Back in the day, that is before Ernest Hemingway, padding was acceptable, even expected. Check out anything written by Henry James, for example. Since writers were paid by the word, “Never say in ten words what can be said in fifty” must have been their motto...

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