On Editing

From The Missouri Review today, this blog post on the importance of grammar. An excerpt:

Over the holidays, I received the page proofs of my forthcoming collection. It was my last chance to read the book and catch any errors before publication. By this point, the stories had been revised and revised again. Many had already been published in journals. They had been edited and copyedited. I’d read each of these stories, in other words, about a zillion times and had already caught, surely, every error there was to catch.

I ended up with a bulleted list four pages long.

The author, Michael Kardos, co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University, and describes a “Grammar Boot Camp” he puts his students through each semester.

As an editor, I wish everyone would have to through such a boot camp; it would sure make my life easier. And I’m by no means exempting myself here. Just as Kardos found four pages of corrections to his manuscript, I often cringe at obvious mistakes I find when I go back to read our magazine after it’s been printed.

Our magazine is a weekly publication, and each December we publish an “Annual Review” edition that looks back at the events of the year. That naturally necessitates going back through each issue of the magazine, a process that’s both enlightening in that it reveals how much I’ve forgotten over the course of the year, and disheartening when I come upon the errors that I’ve let slip into print. Almost all of them are tiny and wouldn’t be noticed by most people, but all are notable since, theoretically, each word in the magazine is read — twice — by three pairs of eyes in addition to my own before being committed to print.

We’re all human. Unfortunately.

*****

In other editing news today, The Daily Dish discussed the “one-space” rule.

I have my own growing pet peeve in this area: writers who want to put tabs — or worse, multiple spaces — at the beginnings of paragraphs. Folks, every word processing application since the dawn of computing time has had the ability to automatically, by default, indent paragraphs. Trust me, you don’t need to add a tab: you’ll just screw up everything down the line when your document is put into a page-layout program. And even though it’s a simple matter to do a search-and-replace to change double spaces between sentences into single spaces, multiple spaces at the beginnings of paragraphs necessitate multiple passes of replacing, and then you still end up with a pesky single space to deal with.

OK, rant over.

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3 thoughts on “On Editing

  1. The transition from “two spaces after a period” to “one space after a period” is super frustrating for me. I couldn’t possibly tell you when I learned that two spaces was the rule, but It was put into my head at some point, and it’s an automatic thing at this point. I had to work to just put one space there.

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