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MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world’s expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .

SASHA TROYAN is a Professor of English at Montclair University and author of the critically-acclaimed novels Angels in the Morning and The Forgotten Island, both Booksense Selections, beautiful stories based upon her childhood in France. I worked with Troyan to develop her new novels, Marriage A Trois and Semester. Read more. . .

LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .

BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by Pan Macmillan. Read more. . .

SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I’m working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .

SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .

M. TERRY GREEN enjoys a successful self-publishing career with multiple sci-fi/fantasy series set in the Multiverse, based upon her expertise in anthropology and technology. I worked with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .

ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny’s debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .

STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield’s second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .

GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans’ fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .

JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .

JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff’s abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .

LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star. Read more. . .

ALEX KENDZIORSKI is an American physician working in South Africa on community health education and wildlife conservation. I edited Kendziorski’s debut novel Wait a Season for Their Names about the endangered African painted wolf, for which he is donating the profits to wildlife conservation. Read more. . .

ALEXANDRA GODFREY blogs for the New England Journal of Medicine. I work with Godfrey on her short fiction and narrative nonfiction, including a profile of the doctor who helped save her son’s life, “Mending Broken Hearts.” Read more. . .

In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.

  • By Victoria Mixon

    We’ve been running a grammar expose this month: tackling first third-person singular pronoun and then the ever-popular (or -unpopular, depending upon your point of view) of serial vs. Oxford comma.

    So now let’s go after that other big issue that continues to plague writers, which plaguey behavior—unlike the behavior of the others—actually has a basis in current correct usage:

    That vs. Which

    But first I am going to stoop so low as to say to a certain tech writer at a certain computer company at a certain time many, many years ago who would not shut up about this: I’m right, you were wrong, you should’ve looked it up.

    That vs. which is an issue because it’s based upon the difference in usage between American and British English:

    • British English

      That and which are pretty much interchangeable. So if you want to say:

      They came around the corner and smashed right into my car that was in the road

      . . .you can.

      Although if I were your editor, I’d probably cut it down to:

      They came around the corner and smashed right into my car in the road

      However, if you want to say:

      They came around the corner and smashed right into my car which was in the road

      . . .you can do that too.

      The Brits aren’t picky. They’ve been using those words for a very long time, through an awful lot of lingual evolution, so they just let it ride either way.

    • American English

      However, in the US we make a distinction between a qualifying phrase that is essential to the meaning of the sentence and a qualifying phrase that is not.

      (Notice the use of that in that sentence, folks.)

      So if you want to say:

      They came around the corner and smashed right into my car, which was in the road

      . . .you need the comma.

      The reason you need the comma is that you’ve set your sentence up so that the whole point can be conveyed without this qualifying phrase. Qualifying phrases that we don’t need we set aside with commas.

      This means the sentence gets across its whole point just as well with this:

      They came around the corner and smashed right into my car

      However, if you want to say:

      They came around the corner and smashed right into my car that was in the road

      . . .you can do this too. But you leave off the comma. That makes the information—my car was in the road—essential to the whole point of the sentence.

      However, again, if I were your editor I’d probably edit it down to:

      They came around the corner and smashed right into my car in the road

    Now, there’s one other question about that that turns up a lot when editors get together to harangue each other about calmly talk over our differences of opinions, and it’s the use of “that” in general.

    It’s called a relative pronoun, and I used it right there in the paragraph above. I used that to connect the question and the fact that it turns up. (Did it again!)

    It’s not always necessary. A lot of editors eliminate that as a matter of course. And this urge to eliminate dates back—yes, indeed—to journalism and the journalist’s need to cut any and every word they possibly can for the sake of saving space.

    I used to eliminate that unless it was absolutely necessary.

    But now I play it by ear. Because the whole point of writing is for the story to move from the page to the reader’s mind magically, as though the words were invisible. And this means that every time the reader is forced to pause and re-read a sentence in order to get the whole point, the words become visible.

    This is a bad thing.

    If the only way to make your words invisible is to use a few extras like that and in order to, then do it.

    Remember: we write our stories in only those words absolutely necessary and no others. Your goal is always the beautiful magic of invisibility.


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