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6 simple rules for copyediting your own work

awnlee jawking

Someone shared this link with me:

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/06/copyediting-your-own-work/

Not going to copy the whole blog but:

1. Consistency, consistency, consistency!
2. Never completely trust your spellchecker
3. Abbreviations
4. Numbers
5. Is it suitable for its audience?
6. Take care with catchphrases

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
paliden

If anyone is interested. . .
http://www.copyright.com/learn/around-the-world/

limab

The other thing I try to do is have a text to speech program read it to me, that gets a lot of valid but wrong words. i.e. groove/grove, winch/wench/wrench/wince

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@limab

have a text to speech program read it to me

A good idea, but it doesn't help much with homonyms.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Zom

A good idea, but it doesn't help much with homonyms.

Ha, AJ, I see through your evil plan to get rid of me, but it has failed! :-)

Crumbly Writer

@Zom

have a text to speech program read it to me

A good idea, but it doesn't help much with homonyms.

I've got a program (autocrit) which flags every homonym which might cause confusion. However, the report is so detailed, it's next to worthless, and I've NEVER been able to review every word in a single chapter, much less an entire book!

Sometimes, good intel is simply worthless trash unless it produces decent intelligence.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Crumbly Writer

Sometimes, good intel is simply worthless trash unless it produces decent intelligence

Are you saying good intelligence is worthless unless it produces decent intelligence, or am I misreading? I though good things were also decent :-)

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/06/copyediting-your-own-work/

I LIKE the advice that blog gives for HOW to achieve consistency.

It suggests authors start a 'Style Sheet' when writing anything lengthy - and record all style choices they make, for example, spaces around ellipses and dashes or not, words they choose to hyphenate or not, formats for numerical values and abbreviations, etc.

As an editor, that seems a much more reliable way of achieving consistency that for me to look up the monster (CMOS) every time I know there are various options an author could use in situations I encounter.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

It suggests authors start a 'Style Sheet' when writing anything lengthy - and record all style choices they make, for example, spaces around ellipses and dashes or not, words they choose to hyphenate or not, formats for numerical values and abbreviations, etc.

As an editor, that seems a much more reliable way of achieving consistency that for me to look up the monster (CMOS) every time I know there are various options an author could use in situations I encounter.

I handle what's in my Style Sheets the same way I manage my plot outline, I manage to keep everything in my head (while all the other details of my life slowly leak out my ears). However, I never even considered writing them out to give to my editors.

Though frankly, I doubt they'd remember the details, and they wouldn't be likely to reread it each time I present a change to an existing story. As it is, they can't remember that I don't use the serial comma, and keep correcting each as if I keep forgetting.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I never even considered writing them out to give to my editors.


But you agree with the principle, right?

If an author finds an editor who wants to see the their preferences applied consistently - this is how to do it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

If an author finds an editor who wants to see the their preferences applied consistently - this is how to do it.

Generally, rather than sending a 'list of my personal Style Guide', I'll either send of list of my particular Style quirks when I first bring an author onboard, or I'll repeat which Style guidelines I support (like serial quotes or uses of regionalisms) whenever they suggest changes on any new story. After they keep flagging the changes on each subsequent chapter, I simply stop responding to them (those particular edits, rather than not responding to the editor at all).

Having an author send you their personal Style Book makes sense for a new editor, but few authors ever write their own "Style Guide", and most who attempt to quickly realize what a never ending source of frustration is is. What's more, few newbie authors ever stop to even consider different Style Guides in the first place. They're simply telling stories, they likely have never studied a single style guide before.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

few authors ever write their own "Style Guide", and most who attempt to quickly realize what a never ending source of frustration it is.

This idea appealed to me because it is not that. Instead of authors attempting to list all their preferences in all situations, they record their choices, as they are making them, on a new Style Sheet for each new work.
That is a manageable task for the author which will also make the editor's task easier. The editor simply tells the author when a story's Style Sheet does not yet list a choice which needs to be made.
I expect to find this much easier than looking up CMOS every time I find the same situation in the same story.

dennyw0713

In general, I like the idea of shared style sheets--I'll have to work on creating one for my preferences ('alright' is never acceptable, 'anymore' rarely is, etc) and discuss the concept with the writers whose work I edit. The style sheet by author really should be a pair, I think: one as overall that applies always and one which is work-specific. Example: aroslav's got one extant story involving a coven and the Art, and a couple more which are in-process. Definitely the style sheet for these would be different to those for, say, Living Next Door to Heaven.

This is my first post on the SOL forums; likely won't be the last, especially in this section.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@dennyw0713

The style sheet by author really should be a pair, I think: one as overall that applies always and one which is work-specific.

Welcome to the forums. :-)

Based on limited experiments since coming across the idea, I have found work-specific sheets are adequate.
I think standard sheets for an author would over-complicate things needlessly.

pangor

Another simple trick when editing your work (or someone elses): When you went through the text too many times to find anything new to fix, change the font and the size, and read it again. If it was in 12pt Arial, choose e.g. 14pt Times New Roman, it totally changes the layout, and it actually reads differently. You'd be surprised about the things you've overlooked before.

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