A few months ago in a conference session, a group of novelists digressed into good-natured complaints about being copyedited. One writer drew a lot of laughs saying, “I mean, I got A’s in English! I know where the freaking commas go!”
In novels and stories and other creative works, words spoken by a character are normally set off from the narrative with quotation marks, and the speaker is identified in the run of text by tags like “she said.”
In editing formal prose, we fix nonstandard English without hesitation. But in editing creative works, we often need to throw out the stylebook so a narrator or character in a novel or play can abuse grammar to good effect. . . .
Janet Burroway is the author of plays, poems, children’s books, a memoir, and eight novels, most recently Bridge of Sand. Her book Writing Fiction (10th ed., University of Chicago Press, 2019) is the most widely used creative writing text in America. . . .
I love Microsoft Word shortcuts, and I post them from time to time when I stumble across a new one. But how’s a body supposed to discover all the features of this gigantic application when so many of them aren’t even visible on the ribbon? To root them out, I went online and browsed around. Confession: half of these tricks
Do you ever find at the end of workday that even though you know darned well you weren’t slacking for even ten minutes, somehow you didn’t make any progress in editing your manuscript? Or do you ever try to explain to someone why even though you put in forty or fifty hours a week, your editing time is way, way less? Recently I was ransacking my archives looking for something, and I ran across a file
This morning I was looking at a writer’s website and once again wondered about an anomaly I see all the time in author bios. You know what I mean: those short blurbs that appear on book jackets, at online bookstores and fan sites, on guest posts, conference programs, and other hangouts where writers need to be identified.
How does a professional copyeditor know when it’s time to retire? Freelancers especially may be tempted to sail on past the age at which in-house editors are encouraged to put down the red pencil. But in either case, how long is too long? Here are some questions to consider.
For the purposes of this post, let’s presume that viral posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms do have influence, and that the world would be better if people considered more carefully and more often the opposing point of view. If you agree, consider three sharing practices
As a reader of the email that comes to The Chicago Manual of Style, I regularly find myself explaining the purpose of the illustrations (figures and tables) to puzzled users. Two recent queries: