Friday, September 08, 2006

That had to hurt

Whether they are chopped and added to fresh salad, stewed and made into sauce or sliced and served cold, people love tomatoes.

The dangling participle (here's a nice example of how the offense is seen upcampus) is still near the top of Deadly Sins lists in skills classes because -- well, because sentences like this one keep cropping up in the morning paper. The "whether they are..." phrase gloms onto the subject, which is "people," not the object.

One could go on and on, but a few quick points:
1) Avoid cliche ledes like "People love tomatoes." They're sublimely irrelevant to people who love tomatoes and annoying to people who don't.
2) Editors, read as hard at the end as you do (or should have done) at the beginning. There's another dangler in the penultimate graf: "Only in its second year, Reinbott feels the festival has plenty of room to grow. "
3) Don't throw adjectives around at random. If the tomato is unique ("To celebrate the variety and taste of this unique fruit"), every fruit is unique.
4) Read copy before writing heds. If the point of the festival is tomatoes' variety, and we include a photo of some yellow ones, don't call 'em "red fruit" in the big type.
5) Make sure cutlines go with photos. They appear to be swapped in print.


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