Thursday, 8 March 2012

Copy-editing Consequences

Another day, another hat … I’ve just been working through the copy-edited text for Time’s Echo, and it took ages – must remember not to write such a long book next time! 

It was interesting to read the story again after several months, but I was appalled to see my writing tics so mercilessly exposed in the tracked changes.  I knew about my ellipsis habit but hadn’t realised I was quite so much of a comma queen, or how prone I am to repeating subject pronouns (‘I repeat myself, and I do it again’, ‘he turns and he smiles’).

Nor did I realise quite how twitchy I would get at having my grammar corrected  It seems I don’t know the difference between ‘that’ and ‘which’, and many times don’t use either. I've always prided myself on my spelling, too, but it turns out I don’t know how to spell ‘racked’ (as in pain) either – was utterly convinced it was ‘wracked’.  Having always believed in doing what I was told on the editing front, suddenly I was getting pretentious and miffed about changes to the ‘rhythm’ of my sentences until I had to give myself a sharp talking to.  All in all, a salutary experience!

I was sent a style sheet, with an A-Z of various words in the book with their standardized spellings, and jumbled together they make an odd kaleidoscope of the story.  Here’s G, for instance:

Gaia, the gang, gaol, garth, girly, god-daughter, good day, Goodramgate, goodwill, goodwives, google (vb), goth (person), the Groves

And W:

wagon, wainscot, wardmote court, warung, wastepaper basket, watchtower, website, well-to-do, whoreson, Wicca, Widow Dent, wildflower, willowherb, wisecraft, witch-hunt, wits’ end, woollen

Or P has a good range of contexts too:

pagan, paperwork, paralysed, pasar, passers-by, Pavement, William Paycock, Paynley’s Crofts, peapod, peddler/peddling, Pinot Grigio, pockmark, Polyfilla, posset, post-traumatic stress disorder, potholed, praetorium, Vivien Price, pseudo-scientific, psychoanalysis

They remind me of a strange kind of Consequences, where you have to take a bizarre collection of things that have no connection to each other at all and make a story … oh, except I already did that, didn’t I?

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