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Great Moments In Editing

Got the last draft of Seventh Bride back and am going through now. The comments my editor leaves in the sidebar are a thing of glory forever.

Case in point:



Further ETA:


Really I'm Just Preserving These For Posterity Now:


And then there was The Thing With The Stones.

Look, "stone" is kind of an invisible word, all right? It's not obtrusive, it describes a thing that isn't usually terribly obtrusive.

I used it a lot. I didn't even notice I was doing it. In my defense, neither did my editor until the second draft, when she was hunting for word echoes, because it's really an unobtrusive little word.

Her growing discovery of this problem is reflected in the sidebar.









(I realize that I have just doomed all my readers to notice every single use of the word "stone" in my book, but seriously, this is why we have editors. They make things better. I write a very clean draft as these things go, and I still need this kind of intervention on a regular basis.)

Eventually the madness culminates in her singing the song of her people (namely editors) at me:



Is there some kind of award for editorial marginalia? (For marginalia at all?) Perhaps there should be. Or at least a festival.

If there isn't an award, there should be.

Also, 'Marginalia' sounds like a dreadful Victorian name. "And here's a portrait of my Great-Great-Aunt, Marginalia Florine Webb; she was a famous librarian, you know..."

Editorial comments

That's some true editorial love, there. You don't typically get publishable comments.

Sorry, both of you pragmatists, but THIS editor has to ask what "to call Summon Pedants" connotes.

On the other foot, I do like "because English" as a perfect explanation of whatever. (You're right about the "ly" adverbs not needing hyphens*...)

Hugz, Justine
* I once published a pissy article in a trade magazine, slamming practitioners of that trade for not knowing from hyphens: my fave example was "cross border firing" -- and, trust me, DO NOT annoy the all-too-touchy borders because you don't want to be sacked, right?

Edited at 2014-11-09 05:42 pm (UTC)

Summon Pedant(s) (Conjuration/Summoning)

Level: 3
Components: S, M
Range: Internet
Casting time: 6 rounds
Duration: Until out of print
Saving throw: Paralysis
Area of effect: Book groups

Explanation: By placing ambiguities in a published text, the caster can summon 2d6 pedants per discussion, who will change the focus from the actual contents of the text to minutiae of the exact meaning of the words or grammatical constructions used.

The material component of the spell is approximately 5g of a powdered copy of Strunk & White, or any thesaurus, which is sprinkled into the wet ink of the written text, or onto the writer's keyboard.

(Deleted comment)
This could be a book on it's own.

This is the best argument for continuing to work toward getting published that I have seen yet. Even better than "if you sold a novel, you could pay off your student loans faster".


Despite what editors may tell you, it 'ought' to be neatly-kept. "Neatly" here may LOOK like an optional adverb, but semantically it's compounded.

That is, you never hear people saying "the kept hedge was green." "Which kept hedge?" "The neatly kept hedge". No - indeed, 'kept' by itself is more likely to mean 'the one we didn't get rid of', as the sense of maintenance (rather than of retention) is now at best secondary, perhaps even idiomatic for many speakers. [Contrast: "the sculpted hedge was green" - "which sculpted hedge?" - "the overly sculpted hedge".]

And further indeed, 'neatly' is not really being used semantically as an adverb at all! "Neatly-kept" means that YOU keep IT neat - not that you are being very neat when you keep it! [Contrast: "The hastily cut hedge" - you are being hasty when you cut it, and the hedge itself is not made hasty by the cutting]. Semantically, the neatness is a complement of the noun, not a qualifier of the action - but idiomatically it is expressed through an adjectival compound ('neatly-kept').

Either of those two arguments you could defy, but both of them together make it a bit silly, linguistically, to drop the hyphen.

Your editor is correct that these days it's most often found without the hyphen, probably because of those twin forces of erratic written English, editors and English teachers, so the "because english" argument is perfectly valid. [Though it's really more "because it's something editors insist on for no apparent linguistic or historical reason but just because it's what other editors do"]. Editors have decided that anything an English teacher is immediately aware is an adverb (i.e. it ends in -ly) shouldn't have a hyphen, whereas things that are exactly the same grammatically but that some English teachers might not immediately recognise as an adverb (e.g. "well") should have a hyphen. Them beings the rule, it makes sense to go with it, unless you really want to be pedantic. After all, rules don't have to make sense.

However, the fact that this "rule" is arbitrary and goes contrary to the general semantic reasons for hyphenation is why you still see plenty of "neatly-kept"s around the place. And, from a larger point of view, it's part of why we end up complaining about standards falling and people not knowing how to use punctuation - the strange, unhistorical dictats of editors and teachers lead people to think that none of it makes any sense.

...sorry, didn't mean to rant there! It's just that ill-informed pedantry really irritates me...

I will cop to all the blame in that one--I am the one yelling BECAUSE ENGLISH in that particular comment.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
Trying to make the ditch less muddy sounds like a fruitless endeavour.

you know how dvds have "bonus material" you can turn on or off like commentary? ebooks should totally come with these marginalia & things. embrace the capabilities of the new medium!

footnotes and margins foreevarrrr... actually, a fanbase-comment updated one would be an interesting exercise.

This is the kind of thing I always want when I buy "Annotated" versions of books.

I'm always let down.

You have to send her a box of stones now.

Ideally one that bursts into "So she's a bit of a fixer-upper" when opened.

HONK HONK SQUISH why do i not have an icon for cracking up and laughing till there are tears in my eyes?

You know, this looks (and sounds) terribly familiar...

Idiot ball, anyone? How about an artichoke?

Hahahahahaha. Oh god. I'm dying laughing. Out loud. Like a maniac. In the middle of an empty room. If anyone were to walk by I would be immediately locked up in the looney bin.



I was not published (and would not be for decades) when I first read, "An editor doesn't like the flavor of the soup until he's peed in it."

Nevertheless I understood it at once.

Yes. I've used that line at work to describe what happens to a presentation as it works its way up the hierarchy.

Fortunately my boss is used to me.