I went to the RNA South East’s chapter meeting yesterday and it was very informative. Jay Dixon spoke to us about “What A Copy Editor Wants”. Now, I’m still fairly new to the biz, so this helped flesh out my knowledge of how the system works.
Checking through every word and punctuation mark when the proofs arrive is a bit tedious but, in the most part, I’m learning a tremendous amount from seeing the changes – especially to my punctuation.
I went to school at a time when teaching grammar was about as fashionable as nylon polyester is now. The bits I did learn, I remember well, but there are huge gaping holes in my knowledge. Thankfully, things have changed and my children are not going to have the same problems. My nine year old quite happily talks about ellipses and stuff like that, yet it was only in the last couple of years I discovered the proper name for those three little dots.
I’ve been reading lots of grammar books since I started writing seriously. I’m improving, but there’s still a way to go. If you could be jailed for punctuation mark misuse, I would be banged up for wilfully abusing commas. Hardly a page goes by in my proofs where, like the Lord on high, the copy editor gives commas and takes them away. At least I’m getting a feel for when they are in the right place now.
Secretly, I suspect my mss are populated by a pack of rogue commas. I swear they all jump up during the night and settle themselves back down in completely inappropriate places just for fun. That’s my defence, guvnor, and I’m sticking to it.