Friday, June 8, 2012

Mark Koopmans: Tips On Editing (Using An Irish Joke)

Ready for an epic post by Mark Koopmans? I know I am! He's a great blogger, an excellent writer, and downright hilarious! I've learned not to drink stuff while reading his posts (took three times for the lesson to stick). Today, he's gracing my blog with some useful writing tips, with an Irish joke to drive the point home. Okay, Mark. Take the console (but watch the aft - just painted it)!

*     *     *


Dave! Thanks for letting me crash land on DPK.

(I hope all is well with your revisions and editing.)

Speaking of which…



Don’t get your knickers in a twist … you could have meant revisions.

It’s editing.



Here’s my problem … I read many wonderful blogs, full of succinct, straightforward tips, with great advice on being a better writer.

Well, when I grow up, I want to be like that, too.

You do?

I do.

(Hums The Wedding March…)

Shush, now.

When Dave said I could share editing and proofreading tips, I wasn’t sure how to explain all the stuff…

The “stuff”?

Yeah, the editing stuff in my head.

I know how to do it, but sometimes I don’t know why…

I will, therefore, use an Irish joke – and add my comments as we go.

Before I begin, here’s my most important tip on editing:

Read your work aloud.

Preferably to other writers, and especially writer’s at a conference or in a trusted critique group.

(I love reading pages to a roomful of strangers… I know I’m going to hear the truth. (Sure, the truth hurts, but boy does it ever help you move your story forward.)

OK, here’s the joke

(Followed by edits and comments.)

Paddy and Mick hire a pilot to fly them to Canada to hunt moose.

They bag six Meeses.

(When it comes to your spell-checker, trust – but verify. In the above example, it’s worthwhile verifying if Meese is capitalized or not.)

As the two lads load up for the return trip, the pilot says, “Hey now, the plane can only take four of those there meeses.”

The two lads object strongly.

(Personally, I really hate adverbs, those “ly” words, because generally they don’t add much to the story. I would simply use “The two lads object strongly.”)

“Last year we shot six meeses, and the pilot let us put them all on board – and he had the same plane as yours,” said the Paddy.

(Great line! You can sense how wise Paddy is, but be careful of the little people, er, I mean the little words that can trip you up. Here, “the” changes the meaning.

“… said the Paddy” indicates a random native Irishman – often called “a bunch of Paddy’s.”

In this scenario, “… said Paddy” which is his name, is correct.)

Reluctantly, the pilot gives in, and all six meeses are loaded.

(Many readers would be disappointed in how the pilot handled himself. Some might even say, “Jeepers, yer man caved in pretty easily enough.”

Plus, where’s the girl… the love interest in this story?)

However, even with full power, the little plane can’t handle the load and down it goes before crashing into the middle of nowhere.

(Even a novice proofreader would see that one coming… there’s not much of a story arc here.)

A few moments later, after climbing out of the wreckage, Paddy dusts off Mick and looks around at the desolate scene.

(Would this happen in real life? I think Mick should dust off Paddy – but how do we know?? Proofreading allows a final chance to make sure the right Duster is brushing off the correct Dustee.)

“Any idea where we are? asks Paddy.

“I think we're pretty close to where we crashed last year,” says Mick.

(This joke was a sequel. This should have been pointed out earlier.)

Another editing tip involves printing the story and relaxing where you read for pleasure. Bring a highlighter (if on a couch) and enjoy the words once.

Then read it again – only this time use a pen and notate changes.

There’s a whole set of symbols or flags that many editors use. You can find them in the AP Stylebook – or you can make up your own. S’all good.

Finally, if the author of this joke ever reads this… I’m sorry to have used your work as an example. I was only joking.

I'm Mark – and I’ll ask ye not to mess with me lucky charms.


  1. Meeses isn't plural for mice? Darn.
    Hilarious as always, Mark!

  2. What a great way to give editing tips, and, luckily, I wasn't drinking anything.

  3. Okay, I'm totally stealing this idea to teach editing to my students. This is so well done!

  4. @ DPK: Thanks, Dave... appreciate you letting me letting me cavort in the Cosmic Laire:)

    @ Alex: I checked dictionary for dummies (I'm a life member) and that's what it said :)

    @ Miranda: Always wanted to edit up an Irish joke.. there are some *bad* ones out there :)

    @ Tasha: Wow, thanks, hope they don't throw any corn beef or cabbage at you :)

    @ Esther: Thanks, glad you liked it. :)

    @ Carrie: Thanks, appreciate you commenting. :)

  5. That's the best post on editing I've ever read.

  6. This is too funny. Great tips Mark!

    How are you liking the Hunger Games David?

  7. Great and funny post. I love the "showing" of the editing tidbits, too.

    Nice to see again last night, David, at Elana's signing.

  8. @ Jessie: All kinds of thanks :)

    @ Imogen: (Blushes) why, thank you ma'am :)

    @ Jennifer: Yay! Glad you liked it :)

    @ Donna: Thanks, hope I didn't show too much :)

  9. AH-hahahahaha!!!!! I. Love. It.

    So. Much.

    That. Is. All.


  10. Funny joke, and clever way to let us in on your editing processes! You clever people so impress me!

  11. @ Lara: It takes one to know one :)

  12. Love it Mark! Simply love it. A definite keeper.

  13. Mark, that was awesome. You crack me up and I love Irish jokes. Great tips.

  14. I love laughing and learning at the same time. Thanks Mark!

  15. Nice to see you over here for a change, Mark. Good advice!

  16. When I googled meese I found "plain, ugly (from Yiddish)." Might they have been meese meeses? Very clever Mark! Julie

  17. No jokes, heh? You just can't help yourself, but I'm glad you succumbed. Had a great laugh. Now I'm off into the forest to find me a meese.

  18. Just wanted to stop by one final time, say a big CHEERS to DPK for letting me mess the meese and also give a special thanks to everyone who commented.

    I'm Mark and this was a ton of fun.