Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Manuscript Just Called Me a Dingbat, a.k.a. Adventures in Copyediting

On Tuesday, I arrived to a rather thick envelope at my door. It was the copyedited version of my manuscript.

Here are a few things I didn't know. These are literally the pages of the manuscript that both my editor and the copy editor have gone over, probably at least a couple of times each. So it looks a little, shall we say, loved - in the Velveteen Rabbit sense of the word.

Secondly, each of them have used a different colored pencil to make their edits. Now my job is to go through with yet another colored pencil and make sure I accept all their changes. If I disagree with something, I have to underline it with a dotted line and write the word STET directly in the margin.

Copyediting language requires a Merriam-Webster dictionary. Literally. My editor actually sent me a Merriam-Webster link to help decipher all the squiggles and scary acronyms.

And then, about 10 pages into my manuscript, I came across this:

Yup, that says Dingbat. It's kind of halfheartedly crossed out, but not crossed out enough to be in the slightest bit illegible. Kind of like when you mutter something degrading that you, in your heart of hearts, intend for your mom to hear.

Now, my editor ensures me this is some sort of design term that has something to do with chapter breaks. I gotta be honest with you. I'm not quite sure I believe her. What if this is how the copy editor truly feels about my writing? What if this is the most horrendous grammar/sentence structure she's ever seen and at one point she just had to throw her arms up in the air and write out her real feelings on my manuscript? And then, for the sake of professionalism, sorta cross it out afterward. (Stacy, if you're reading this...I'm kidding, of course. I totally believe you. Even though my manservant, Google, can't seem to find any mention of this editing term per se.)

Anyway, copyediting is weird. You know what else is weird? Writing with pencil on paper. It's so...permanent. If I wanted to cut and paste anything, I would literally have to cut and then paste it, like with glue and scissors.

Though, frankly, it's a good way to keep me from rearranging whole chapters. I'm wondering if my editor figured out that I was never very good with scissors.

Huge Caveat: Most of this blog post is meant to be humorous and in no way, shape or form should be taken as disparaging to my editor, who is in fact amazing, or the excellent copy editor, who in fact caught every discrepancy and bit of poor grammar I was silly enough to have in my manuscript.

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