Mark Terry

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Copy Edits

June 30, 2009
I'm going over the copyeditor's edits on the manuscript of The Fallen, due out from Oceanview Publishing in April 2010.


I find this exhausting. It's not because I have a terribly cluttered manuscript. I don't. It's pretty clean. But I find I have to really think about some of the edits. Generally they're stylistic--this copyeditor wants serial commas, which I generally don't. The copyeditor doesn't seem to want to capitalize titles, like chief of staff versus Chief of Staff, whereas I generally do. From time to time I just plain disagree and say so.

She's made one or two suggestions for changes in words and sometimes I say, okay, whatever, and other times I say, No, I prefer what I had.

Like most edits, you still have to spend some time trying to figure out what's going on in the head of the editor. That's what's tiring, I guess.

Mark Terry

p.s. for your own post-it note: 


Blogger spyscribbler said...

Well, my one tiny pub did such bad copyediting, I had to ask them to stop. Luckily, one of my readers is a copyeditor, and I adore her. I love copyediting, so the notes are always fascinating to me because I've learned something neat. I mean, when I look something up in the CMS, I get sidetracked into reading pages upon pages of it, LOL. For fun, I do AP copyediting drills and grammar workbooks.

The serial comma is best not used for online reading or non-fiction. I don't like it altogether, though. It slows the reader down, so one has to consider whether one wants to or not. The house style usually has the last word, LOL, but I prefer lean comma usage.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Stephen Parrish said...

I prefer lean comma usage too; only, when, necessary. In fact: I think; that "applies"---to all, punctuation?

Mark: what happens if push comes to shove? There are a couple (just a couple) of things I've been told to do that I don't think I should do.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

In a lot of cases I use the comma to create "pauses" in the readers heads, so I'd prefer not to get too many suggestions, but each house has a different style.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

My suggestion is to make your argument for what you want and why. If they know why you want something they may go along with it. That's been my experience, anyway.

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're asked to use serial commas which don't seem logical to me. But, no big deal. My idea of using commas is -- seemingly like yours -- to put a comma where I feel there should be a slight pause. Which, I guess, isn't really a "rule."

10:51 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Anon (is that you, Eric?), the thing is, the "rules" of punctuation have been debated since the beginning. The comma's first "rule" was that a comma equaled one breath. I had one previous copyeditor tell me there are precisely 14 (or 18?) rules of punctuation, no more and no less LOL. No one agrees on that, either. It's what I find fascinating about the whole thing. It's all so fluid, even though we tend to choose some rules and stick with them. It's kind of like writing: I love to learn all the different rules, figure out the whys of them, and then I get to pick and choose and break them! Tee-hee! It's part of the music you make!

My enthusiasm for this subject is suddenly making me blush.

7:33 PM  

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