Copy Edits Done…

Posted: May 11th, 2010 under Craft, Editing, the writing life.
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….Almost.   Still a few more things to be done before shipping them back to NYC.   I need to rewrite the Dedication, write the Acknowledgments, and run back through the text to catch a couple of things I think I may have done wrong.   Anyway, tomorrow I mail them off, then there’s choir practice, and Thursday is our son’s math final at ACC (he needs a special trip in and back out) and then Friday I can start on the maps for Kings.    Or rather, the expansion of the main map westward to include Fin Panir, where some mumble-mumble plot will take place.   (Does it matter?  Oh yes!)

This set of copy edits was more difficult than some others, almost certainly due to the CE’s unfamiliarity with any of the previous books and my personal stylistic choices.   Looking at the marks, I realized how differently I write now from how I wrote papers in college and grad school, and nonfiction later on.   That began with the first Paks books, but the development has continued–I’m not writing in familiar American vernacular.  The Paks books won’t allow it.

I don’t want to be perceived as one of those writers who thinks her every word is a perfectly faceted diamond or ruby, set in 24k gold by a master jeweller.   Faberge I’m not, and I know it.  But I also don’t want the feel of a Paks book to be compromised by someone else’s taste.    You, the Paksworld readers, don’t deserve that.   You may think I didn’t get something right–and if it’s something I didn’t get right that’s a fair cop–but if it’s something someone else put in, I don’t want the blame for it.

Which means editing the copy editing is a very tricky process.   There’s no problem accepting corrections to misspelled words, missing quotation marks, and obvious errors.   But when it comes to matters of style and taste, I have to tread a wary path.  Sometimes the change is a good one.   Sometimes it has (to my eye and ear) a neutral effect–it’s different, but it’s not better or worse.   I tend to halve those, giving 50% to the copy editor and 50% to me.  Sometimes, it’s worse.   Those I reject, even if that means a page covered with “stet” and little dots under the thing to be stetted.    And then there are the other things–things not marked by the copy editor, that I now see as less than they could be.   It’s a long, tedious, painstaking process (yes, you can express sympathy…do that before the book comes out, please, so if you hate the book I’ve already had the sympathy.)

However, it’s done and we finally turned on the air conditioner.   R- brought home a roast chicken from the supermarket.   I will finish up tonight before 10 pm and go to bed before midnight for the first time in over a week.


  • Comment by A Pagan — May 12, 2010 @ 7:48 am


    Keep up the good work Mrs Moon!!

    i wanted you to know that i have been blessed by your writing (stories and style), in fact i have invited people to read ‘Deed’ and they have enjoyed it immensely as well!

    So i want to encourage you as you continue through the creative process and writing; Stay strong, keep forward, your inspiration encourages us all 😉

  • Comment by AJLR — May 12, 2010 @ 3:27 pm


    I’m sending lots of sympathy re the troublesome copy edits – though I know I’ll love the story anyway. 🙂

  • Comment by june — May 12, 2010 @ 4:05 pm


    jeese, you had a bad day. Me I just drove in from a 3 hour drive in a storm at 10 pm last night and still trying to make myself do the dishes from before I left 3 days ago. Good luck, get some rest and the left over chicken is great for chicken salad. Hope Michael’s tests go well.

  • Comment by Elizabeth D. — May 17, 2010 @ 10:32 pm


    I love the first book of this series, but I also think you should stick to your guns. This is not a criticism of the book, but instead of a publisher that might change too much.

    If it doesn’t make any difference, I believe that an author should have their own voice in their work. It may not seem to make a difference, but it is the difference between the style of a Jane Austin and a Shirley Jackson; somehow there is an overall feel that is lost when little sentences are changed. My husband (with my help) has done quite a lot of Latin translations from insular (Gaelicized) Latin, with very long sentences. It helps that I write long sentences anyway, but it it very difficult, because some word towards the end of the sentence may add a definition to more than one idea earlier in a sentence, and it is very difficult to figure out what is really being said. If broken up into little pieces with repeating words, it still doesn’t make sense. But, if a little of the backwards Latin sentence structure (backwards for English, that is), is retained, somehow the sense of the sentence becomes clearer. These long sentences often employ comparisons (metaphor and simile, and puns) that are not clear if reorganized too much. Because of our translation struggles, I listened to some short lectures on Welsh poetry last summer, and learned about the use of alliteration, internal rhythm and rhyme, and other such things. Changing sentence structure can either make a sentence weak (too many syllables and weak sounds) or strong (shorter syllable words that must be said more slowly, and shout by their strong sounds). An author such as yourself with a good ear just knows what they need to say; not just the literal prose, but the facial expressions used while a character says some dialog (needing to say the words with certain sounds), or the sibilant sounds listening to water or wind, or strident sounds while walking, etc. I can sense your discomfort with this copy editor, and I hope that they have not changed any of your style, or any of the characters’ voices.

    All this is to say: I wonder if it might be possible to point out to the publisher that, even though they mean well, maybe a different copy editor might be more useful? Or at least an editor that makes suggestions, not actual changes in text?

    Even a mage, wizard, or palidan might notice that actual letters have meaning in an of themselves, aside from the words they inhabit (called “elements” in Latin, and considered so important that in part of a church Consecration, the alphabet was written around a church, while an “Abecedarian” Hymn would be sung). Both Irish “Abecedarian” and Greek “Kontakion” hymns began every verse of a 24 verse hymn with a letter of the alphabet. Unless it is truly a mistake, you deserve your choices in letters.

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