I’m working my way through the copy edits Sourcebooks gave me for MAKING WAVES. It’s a process that’s surprising me in some ways.
When the production editor sent the document last week, she included a note saying I’m not obligated to make any of the edits. “I’ll accept your changes over what the copy editor changed or suggested,” she explained.
I did a quick skim of the manuscript and laughed. The changes seemed tiny. Little bitty switches from one word to another, nothing I minded in the least.
Or did I?
As soon as I sat down and dug in, I found I minded a lot more than I realized.
I’ll give you a couple examples with the caveat that I don’t want to launch a discussion of “right” or “wrong” or “that copy editor couldn’t find her semi-colon with both hands and a flashlight.” I adore the copy editor, whoever he/she is, and think most of the suggestions are spot-on. I plan to accept the vast majority of them and would probably offer a hug and a noogie if we ever met in person.
But a couple stylistic changes rubbed me the wrong way (no small feat considering I’m a fan of most kinds of rubbing). In these examples, the blue text is what I wrote originally. The red is the word added by the copy editor:
He glanced at something in his lap, then punched some numbers on a gadget beside him. Beautiful hands, Juli thought, then she shivered at the memory of those hands all over her body.
Here’s another example:
Behind him, Jake went back to muttering. “Damn woman’s going to ruin us.”
“Probably,” Alex said, and he tried not to look forward to it.
It’s the same sort of addition in both examples, and I’m sure there’s a reason for the suggestion.
But there’s also a reason I wrote the sentence the way I did, which is the same reason I’m not accepting the change. I don't want the he or the she in those spots. I want the words to flow a certain way. I like the brevity of the original with its casual, folksy cadence.
The funny thing is, there was no point in the writing of MAKING WAVES where I made a conscious decision to exclude the she or he in those sentences. I didn’t consult a grammar guide or sit with a quivering finger poised over the keyboard wrestling with this monumental decision.
Yet I find it really does matter to me. As much as I don’t fancy myself a word diva, I probably am. It’s the reason you’ll never, ever catch me blogging if I’ve had anything to drink.
That thud I just heard was probably half of you hitting the floor, but it’s true. I’ve written plenty of words after a glass or twelve of wine, but I’ll never set a blog post to go live until I’ve read it with 110% sober vision. I like making deliberate word choices with anything that will have hundreds of eyes on it. That sort of deliberateness doesn’t always happen with a glass of Chianti beside me.
How choosy are you about word selection? Do you find yourself nit-picking other people’s writing differently than your own? Please share.
And please share your wine, while you're at it. Now that this post is written, I'm free to imbibe.