Tag Archives: copyeditor

Truth.

“Reading other people’s raw copy is like looking at your grandmother naked.” When veteran reporter Rafael Alvarez was temporarily assigned to the metro desk, this was his verdict after his first week’s experience, and from this observation several conclusions can be drawn. First, from your editor, as from your butler, there are no secrets. If […]

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The Occasionally Cranky Editor Speaks

Dear Mr. Author: There are a lot of errors in your manuscript. Not plot holes or lack of clarity, no. Simple things like typos, misspelled words, punctuation mistakes. What happened? It looks like a bomb went off in here. I’m the content editor, so I’ve been looking past these things; it’s the copyeditor’s job to […]

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Don’t Celebrate Too Soon!

After you and I spend a couple months working on the content of your manuscript—catching some continuity issues or working on characterization, say, in fiction, or beefing up clarity or connecting a few dots in nonfiction—you might well heave a big sigh of relief. You might do a little dance in front of the computer, […]

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A Device for the Eye Rather Than for the Ear *

The apostrophe, that is. And what I’ve been seeing lately makes my eyes bleed, y’all. I know I’m not the first. (Here’s looking at you, Lynn Truss. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, but you need a copyeditor, too, friend.) Most recently, Kate Brannen wrote a clever article about how to sign your Christmas […]

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Short Saturday: Editing the Dead

I read quite a bit of Shirley Jackson’s fiction in middle and high school—lots of her short stories, and the “fictionalized memoirs” Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons. Since the former begins with a family that has “two children and about five thousand books,” I immediately identified with them. (Our family had three children […]

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The One That Got Away While I Was Sipping Lemonade

This happens to me three or four times a year: I get an email referral from an agent, or someone at a publishing house, or another author I’ve worked with for a job that I would really, really love to have. Sometimes that’s because the publisher is one I haven’t worked with before, sometimes it’s […]

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Not Until They Pry My Cold, Dead Fingers … (How to Let Go)

The final copyedit is not the time for you to do a rewrite, sugar. And this is the third so-called final. Stop it. You should have done all this rethinking before now! Your Editor is losing her patience. It’s time for us to talk about how to let go. And why you should. So let’s […]

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Short Saturday: New Steve Jobs “Biography”

Yes, those are scare quotes. I was reading this review of the two Steve Jobs biographies (the one Walter Isaacson published in 2011 and a new one called Becoming Steve Jobs) and was about to dash off a letter to the editor, noting that a book that uses the phrase insanely great twice—just in examples quoted […]

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On the Same Page: You, Me, and the Style Guide

I really love the left-brain/right-brain duality of editing. It’s both prescriptivist and descriptivist. It’s a puzzle and yet has the same elements. Every project’s different … and every project’s the same—in that it has a need for a style guide. You’ve heard me talk about the Chicago Manual of Style. If you have a question […]

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Short Saturday: The Joy of Editing

I just sent back a first pass edit on a well-researched novel set in the Middle Ages. I can tell you this only because it rang true; the few facts I know about medieval life could dance on the head of a pin with room to spare for several angels. But I knew enough to […]

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