The Editor’s Pie

I posted this a while ago. But thought it worth posting again.

Editor pie chartGrammatical knowledge or technique – the ‘hardware’ of editing – represents only part of the whole process. Editing is not entirely about objective analysis; subjective preferences play a role as well.

For instance, some editors loathe certain treatments of words. United States or USA or U.S. or US are just different styles; all are correct, but most editors will have a preference. Of course, a personal preference will be secondary to an existing publishing company’s house style. I have a prejudice against the em dash – I prefer its more dashing cousin: the en dash!

Then there’s the ‘inner ear’, a subtle skill that comes from experience.  I think of it as the syntax or cadence that language possesses – it has its own soothing rhythm that an experienced ear is attuned to. A good editor will instinctively ‘know’ that there’s a missing beat and they’ll recommend ways to find it.

Not to be ignored, an editor will always embrace the fact that the book is the author’s ‘baby’. Recommendations need to be gentle in delivery but firm in reasoning.

The Independent Clause

The Independent Clause
Here’s a useful writing tip:
Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an independent clause. For example:
“The early pioneers have disappeared, and the story of the early years of the country can no longer be constructed.”

Toad in the Hole

Toad in the Hole
For my fellow lovers of grammar, let’s talk about the difference between simple nouns and compound nouns. (When was the last time you heard those expressions?)
You guessed it: Toad in the Hole is an example of a compound noun (it’s the unappealing meal, by the way). A simple noun would be ‘chocolate’ – now that’s one of my favourite foods. Simple nouns consist of one word only and compound nouns consist of more than one word.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Over or More than?

Over or More than?
Fast becoming one of my pet editorial hates is the misuse of ‘over’ instead of ‘more than’. Do not use ‘over’ with numbers except when you are referring to the age of a person. For instance, ‘She was over 40′ is fine. But ‘They worked over 40 days on the project’ is not. It should be ‘They worked more than 40 days on the project’.