Monday, April 28, 2008

Proofreading

Surely I am not alone when I write of those heady days of my youth when I dreampt of receiving the galleys of my novel from my publisher. I could almost smell the ink on the pages, fresh from the wooden contraption that gave them their name, the galley-press. (Click on the link for a picture and description of the process of creating galleys.)
Those publishing people really worked hard, didn't they? I guess it got easier once they harnessed the sun to help power the press...

Oh how I wanted a book and in 2006, I got one, thanks to Adam Nevill. The publishing process for Wild Card began: write book, submit book, proofread book. However, whilst my career as a novelist was as new as tomorrow's dew, the days of the galleys were but a memory, as poignant and ancient as the first tear of heartbreak.


What I received from my editor was a quick email note with a fat attachment. I was asked to look at the author's proofs and relay my corrections via email ASAP.

No smell of ink, no ream of heavy paper...and in place of the words I'd imagined would drop me into the pantheon of Great Canadian Writers as surely as Sheila Watson landed there with The Double Hook (one slim novel) I cast my eyes down to see:

He leant away slightly to put his hand between her knees, and then drew it slowly up her skirt until his fingers cupped her sex. She widened her stance to accommodate his big hand. He laughed at the wetness of her panties.

Oops, I remember now. I'm not in the running for Great Canadian writer, one slim novel or no. But that's okie dokie with me. I simply wish to be known as one of the many marvelous contemporary erotica writers working in the UK today. That's why I've crossed the pond. So please, if you wish to order my work do so from Amazon.co.uk. I'd be positively chuffed, eh? Here is a photograph of me reading one of my favourite novels in my English Garden.


Perhaps I should have said one of my favourite novels. I live next door to Elizabeth George and across the street from Mitzi Szereto. Honest I do.

I submitted five pages of author's corrections for Wild Card. An example?
...lips pursed in a tiny O to accommodate the delicacy it nibbled.

Since I am writing about her lips (plural) delicacy should be followed by the word they, however, since lips don’t nibble, teeth do – please change it to read:
...lips pursed in a tiny O to accommodate the delicacy of the nipple.

Oh my Gawd our editor is a saint. Here's pictorial proof from the Virgin Press archival library (now part of the Random House Archival Libraries).

St.Adam Tends to His Flock of Biddies er, make that Birdies:



I hasten to say that the author's comments on the author's proofs for my second Black Lace novel, Amanda's Young Men, were only four pages long and this was mainly because the powers that be decided to relocate it from the UK to NA and I was asked to suggest word changes they might have missed, for example, 'elevator' instead of 'lift'. Here's my favourite:

Page 193, Line 25 ‘Naff off, you, before you get hurt.' (UK)
Change word:
Take off, you, before you get hurt, (NA)

The rest of my suggestions were much simpler this time, to whit:
Page 98, Line 22:You'll have fun with this little slut, Roger, you’ll see. Lift her up by...
Change name: You'll have fun with this little slut, Rupert, you’ll see. Lift her up by...


This is important because while Roger is a fifty-something philandering husband who is, in fact, dead by this point in the novel...



Rupert is a legal young hottie with an angelic face and an ever ready hardon.



I've only ever received author's proofs for one short story, from Mitzi Szereto, for Hurting Hugh, in Getting Even: Revenge Stories. I was eternally grateful because I got to answer a question posed by the American proofreader ('cougar' is UK, should we use 'puma' instead?) with STET. "The proofreader uses this Latin term to indicate that proofreading marks calling for a change should be ignored and the text as originally written should be "let stand." Talk about yer wet panties!

I like receiving author's proofs. The work is detailed to the point of being obsessive and I am helping to improve my book. Now let us address another aspect of proofreading - proofing the work of others.

My daughter wrote a fantasy novel which I undertook to proof and subtly edit as a gift for her nineteenth birthday. The work was excruciating; at times I felt I was taping an invisible wall, only to find she'd meant 'Tapping an invisible wall. DUH.' Later, she thanked me. Her work shows promise.

I am an excellent proofreader of Felix Baron's work. This is one of the reasons why the author's proofs he receives are so much less error-riddled than my own. Felix thinks I am the best proofreader there is. He has secured not one but two 'quick' proofreading gigs for me, as a way of grabbing some 'fast cash'. (A buck a page.)

In both instances the same mistake was made and both gigs ended poorly. The error? I did not insist that the piece be formatted in Word before it was sent to me.

The first time, there were so many glitches in the piece that I sent it to my computer analyst sister, who makes more money per hour than I make per short story, for help. She performed miracles but there was some dumb little dinky mark, no bigger than this + that showed up every now and again. This little mark, according to the author, destroyed the integrity of the novel and negated all my hard work.

Spoiler alert: This novel had no end. Apparently, the author decided once she'd typed enough words to call it a book, it was one. I actually wrapped up the story for her, not that she + noticed. I'm happy to report that I was paid. I'm sorry to report that my last words to her were 'You'll never sell it in a million years.'

Not long ago, Felix arranged another proofing gig for me. As we were dealing with a friend of his, a fellow who self-publishes, Felix spent the day reformatting the Word Perfect document into Word before I began. I ploughed through the story of a cop in small town America who cannot catch a serial killer even though our protagonist has been established (in a number of previous self-published novels) to be an expert in his field and has been given an additional 400 officers to assist him. Meanwhile the murderer tears an astonishing number of women to pieces. Will you forgive me when I say that once I was done I dispatched the attachment post haste?

Incredibly, the document had been so corrupted by the reformatting that most of my changes were not saved. The author was understandably upset. The two friends agreed to meet and Felix, being English, departed for the coffee shop fully confident that I would be paid. Our intrepid author offered Felix a box of chocolates for me in lieu of money. Felix replied,'Let's forget the whole thing.' To the author, a Canadian, this statement means 'Hurrah! We're still pals and you'll still write blurbs for my books and I can still call you whenever I want and say, "Felix, is there a hyphen in half-back" and you'll be happy to answer!' To Felix it means, 'I just forgot that you were ever born.'

Spoiler alert: The serial killer book has a happy ending. No, the cop doesn't actually ever catch the killer but he (the killer, sadly, not the cop) freezes to death in a creek and in the spring along comes a lean, hungry old wolf who makes quite a meal of that nasty carcass!)

My lesson? I'm good at proofing my own work and I'm good at proofing Felix's work. The rest I'd best leave to the pros. I guess I should mention that Felix 'proofs' my work too but instead of looking for things like, say, where I've used the dead guy's name instead of the hottie's name, he has admitted that he's mostly looking for information about my darkest, unspoken sexual desires. This makes for two things:
1)Our editor thinks Felix is a consummate professional and I'm a newbie.
2) Some confusing and foody (eeek!) encounters between the sheets.

Things I know about proofreading? Three Facts and a Hypothesis:

3 Facts
The manuscript must be properly formatted and delivered in Word.
Spell check does not replace proofreading.
If it's short, like a business letter, read it backwards.

1 Hypothesis
By the way, our editor is not under any obligation to approve the changes suggested by the author. Author's proofs are a luxury, not a right. So...

I betcha, if you're asking for a big change, you have a better chance of getting it if you try and match the number of characters in the corrected version with the number of characters in the original version, much as we did in the bad old days when we were actually typing these things and using white-out to try and make corrections with a minimum of retyping. For example:

Page 213, Line 18,19

Her brief velvet jacket hung loose, the soft fabric covering
only her arms, really. With each breath she took, the lining of the velvet
jacket caressed her nipples.

Change sentences so they don’t contradict each other:

Her brief jacket hung loose, barely covering half of each breast. With each
breath she took, the satin lining of the velvet jacket caressed her
nipples.

Original: 28 words, 137 characters w/out spaces, 173 characters w/ spaces.
Revised: 27 words, 133 characters w/out spaces, 168 characters w/ spaces.

Professional proofreaders, care to comment? Authors, any tips or traumas to talk about? Readers, any groaners to report? And how do you spell it? Proofreader, proof-reader, or proof reader?

40 comments:

Portia Da Costa said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry after reading all this! *Not* because there's anything wrong with the post. In fact, it's excellent and very informative. No, it's because I'm in the middle of proof reading hell at the moment myself, and it's a tough, tough job.

Never again do I agree to turn a manuscript in a fortnight early! Next time, I take all the time I'm allowed, and do a couple more editing and nitpicking runs.

Janine Ashbless said...

LoL!

Proof-reading is very important. I'm still sniggering over the fact that Laurell K Hamilton's proof-reader does not know the difference between an Catamite and a Catamount - a potentially lethal error in some circumstances, I'd have thought.

On the other hand it has been pointed out to me that I don't know the difference between Peon and Paean. Bah. The entire novel is now ruined for me.

Janine Ashbless said...

BTW, I happen to have in my possession a photo of Adam Nevill that bears an uncanny resemblance to your St Francis pic. One day I shall share it with the world...

Olivia Knight said...

An unskilled Spanish American labourer or a hymn of praise? A wild cat or a young man who takes it up the wrong 'un?

Oh, what a difference a letter makes...

I proofread minutely before I submit and have a very dear, equally anal friend who wants nothing more on a lazy hot afternoon than to take a fine tooth-comb through my manuscript. And I don't even have to sleep with her. So having sent in these immaculate flawless triple-checked straight-from-the-OCD-school-of-proofing manuscripts, when the printers' proofs arrive... I spit bullets. Take cover, reach for the earplugs, as Olivia roars "How the HELL can they get it so wrong? This story was typeset by a MONKEY ON DRUGS!" And even a monkey on drugs, given sufficient typewriters and time, would get it right some day. But the monkey hypothesis is the only explanation I can find, when the whole process is digitised and I sent them a completely error-free file.

On one occasion, 300 red-ink (that means THEIR fault) corrections later, I was minded to phone in and say "Just put the original file through the system again, okay? It's simpler than undoing all the fuck-ups."
I didn't. Although when I sent in corrections which included which inverted commas were pointing the wrong way, St Adam called me a stickler. I shook him until his saintly little white teeth rattled and bellowed in his face "THAT'S THE POINT OF PROOFREADING, YER MUPPET! TO GET IT RIGHT!" (In my document, of course, they were all pointing the right way.)

When I found a character's name had been changed - but not changed all the time, just here and there, so one woman started the task but a separate and previously unintroduced woman finished it - I stopped breathing.

The worst for me - as you may have noticed a certain perfectionism and desire for control here - was one experience with an editor, at another publishing house. I'm perfectionist. In my writing, I'm downright anal. In this story, I'd polished every sentence ten times over. If I use a word, it's because that's the word I want. NOT BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT OTHER WORDS WERE AVAILABLE! I wrote "beat". She changed it to "rhythm". (Beat: short, strong, Old English derived. Rhythm: floaty, latinate, shade affected. Besides which, they MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS.) I can't bear the thought of going through all the other examples, but it took me 5 hours to "proof-read", ie. restore my original document. I sat in the garden and swore copiously at the bushes and sky. If she wanted to write a story of her own, why didn't she just WRITE one? This one's MINE!

So - erm - massive insights into my personality there, but at least I channel all that sort of borderline behaviour into my proofreading, and the rest of the time I sloth about, relaxed and easy-going...

Erastes said...

I have a cadre of two friends who used to proof read for me, but as they've become busier in their writing lives, I've stopped asking them to do this.

Instead I've become a lot pickier of my own work, and realised that I was being sloppy - and frankly when I started out, I didn't even know there were rules to writing. This is why the first edited proof of Standish had over 200 editor's comments (and that's COMMENTS, I'm not talking about corrections to grammar and punc!)

I learned a LOT from that edit and I'm grateful to my editor for a lot of help she gave me. However she wasn't au fait with the period and she questioned my use of Parthian Shot, (in a Regency novel) saying , "if this is a time before firearms, this can’t be used, since it refers to gunshots.

Which caused much hilarity in the Erastes household as it was wrong on so many levels.

I wish that I did have a 2nd pair of eagle eyes looking out for me, for when my character's eyes change colour in mid book, or their children's names change but, perhaps it will just help me be a little more careful!

As Portia says, another run is never a run too many!

Erastes said...

Oh - and from the other side - there's this Livejournal.

http://community.livejournal.com/copy_editors/

Which constantly makes me laugh.

Olivia Knight said...

My best tips...

use a style guide
Proofreader, proof-reader, or proof reader
It doesn't matter, as long as you're consisent with all compound nouns: choose a style and stick to it throughout. The first is my favourite, but as long as it's consisent through the whole story, any are fine. Black Lace has a style guide, and for stuff they don't cover, The Times style guide or the Guardian style guide are default. If stuff isn't covered, jot down your own style guide to help you keep track.

do it on paper
Every time I've skipped a paper-edit and only checked on screen, I've let through errors that make me cringe at the print version. It's a schlepp, because you have to mark them all then enter them on-screen, but it's worth it.

do it in sips
I take my editing and proofing to a coffee shop, because a) it's mind-numbingly dull so I make it more a treat & look at the pretty people when I need a break, and b) it makes me do it in concentrated sessions, so I don't sit there just threading text through my eyes because my brain has frozen over with the tedium.

find and replace
I use find and replace to check for inconsistencies (spelling obscure names, sentence caps for titles, etc). Never never never hit replace all. If Hazel's name changes to Angela, someone might end up with Angela eyes.

Madeline Moore said...

Good morning! Thank you, UK morning people, for kicking off the comments.
I am NOT a morning person but I'm up before dawn to take my daughter to her train.

It is awful when names change and so do eye colours. I have to admit to a certain amount of shock when I check my manuscript and find these sorts of errors to me mine!

In my first book I panicked at the end, thinking I hadn't given a character an eye colour, which to me means I haven't properly described her. So I made them brown, only to discover when I rec'd the author's proofs that in fact I HAD given her lovely grey eyes...happily for 'Wild Card' those changes were made but, the description 'Her pupils dilated to pin-holes' was not.

I've always had a problem with dilated...which is surprising for someone who's had two kids.

There's a good question. What word
do you or did you at one time consistently misspell? Mine was definitely. It took me forever to learn to add that last 'e'. Felix's is occasion. (He usually puts in an extra 's'.

Is there anyone who can spell diahhrea properly the first time around (not that we use it in erotica)? I know I can't, and blogger spellcheck isn't helping...

This was such a difficult piece to write because I wanted it to be error free. I doubt it is, but I hope it is.
me.

Olivia Knight said...

I can spell diahorrea, but I'm never sure if I've got "embarrassment" right. But Google's brilliant, discreetly asking if you meant...?
(I learnt "definitely" by starting with "finite" and adding bits on.) Fortunately, I've never used "akimbo" much, because I only recently discovered that it means "with your hands on your hips and elbows stuck out" so anyone who stands "with legs akimbo" is unusually flexible.

Portia Da Costa said...

A lot of my changes seem to arise from slight tinkeration by the copy editor. Mostly for no apparent reason, as there's nothing I can see that's actually 'wrong' with my original version.

And that really annoys me!!!!

Madeline Moore said...

'Find and replace' has a feature that was just recently pointed out to me- whole word only. This wouldn't help with 'hazel' but it is useful for a lot of other words.

Olivia Knight said...

Current pet-hates? BL guidelines change "bright green eyes" to "bright-green eyes" and "okay" to "OK".

Madeline Moore said...

BL changes leaned to leant. Which seems so odd to me, even though I use
slept and dreampt...

I find most errors occurs during cutting and pasting, so a proofread is never done until all the cutting and pasting is over and the piece has been proofed again.

I agree with you, Olivia, on the print and proof method. Felix hates the waste of paper and ink but it helps me immensely.

I chose 'proofread' by searching for UK proofreaders and picking the most reputable looking site. I'd say UK is proofreading. You're right though, consistency is the key...

I make a list of words to search and, usually once I'm done proofing, I search them one by one and make my decisions.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Very entertaining post, Madeline! (Sorry some of your experiences have been nightmarish, though.)

Olivia suggested:
Never never never hit replace all.

At one point while working on a novel recently, I made a "find"/"replace" journey through the text to change someone's name from Terry to Tommy—instance by instance. I was amused to note that had I applied "replace all," my protags would have been cavorting in "tommy cloth robes" one morning.

I'm generally a good speller, but I've been shocked on occasion to find, in my forties, that I've been consistently misspelling a word my entire life. Unlike the words that I know I'm shaky on and always double-check, these were words I was certain I knew how to spell and had thus gone for decades without looking up. For example, until a few years ago these hands routinely typed "aficianado" [sic].

Olivia Knight said...

"Olivia suggested"? Jeremy, how generous of you! Olivia dictated in full Napoleonic regalia, more like, but never mind...

On find-and-replace errors, I did hear of a novelist who sent the manuscript to print with a reference to Michaelangelo's Geoffrey.

kristina lloyd said...

Fab post, Madeline! It highlights how mysterious, delicate and in-fucking-sane the whole process feels when you're on the receiving end of someone else's edits.

I wish I knew more about it, especially about who does what to manuscripts at BL HQ. It would be really helpful because then I could make appropriate effigies for sticking little pins in.

The changes are often baffling. My most baffling one recently was in Split when someone at HQ had inserted the line 'I took a brief shower'. This was just before two characters are about to have hot bondage sex. Mr Big Bad Dom has just told her to take a pee if she needs to ... and, uh, without my say-so, she's suddenly showering as well, leaving Mr Dom standing there like a lemon, twiddling his ropes, his authority completely undermined. It also read as if she were someone who wouldn't have, ew, dirty dirty sex until she was clean and fragrant.

Took me ages to work out why they'd done it. And it was because later in the chapter, there is mention of her having had a shower earlier, and I hadn't shown her having a shower. But there was no need! No need, you hear? It was something that happened before the chapter opened, a fairly normal part of a morning routine. The reader fills in the gaps, no? Every single detail is not important. When a character opens a window, you do not need to specify that there is a window there.

Guh. And now I will go and take my blood pressure tablets.

Janine, where is that picture of St Adam? Don’t tease.

Janine Ashbless said...

Mwa ha ha...

Mitzi Szereto said...

As a writer and editor who has had work entrusted to me by other writers, I think it's very important to make certain that any changes are approved, especially if there are questions pertaining to the context in which something was written. I'm not a mind reader! It's better to clarify things and make the work as best as it can possibly be. So yes, contributors will either have proofs to correct, or else a list of items that need clarifying that they need to reply to. Any editor who makes changes/alterations without approval (save for minor grammatical issues and the like) on another writers' work is not behaving ethically.

Erastes said...

Diarrhoea- nope. Can't spell it for TOFFEE. Thank god for Firefox spell check (which amusingly, doesn't recognize Firefox.)

The only problem with find and replace...

I decided to rename a character Josh, because Jack had been done to death, and in several instances I had characters wearing a joshet.

:)

Madeline Moore said...

Thank you for zooming in to Lust Bites today, Mitzi. I'm delighted to have an editor's perspective on proofreading.

'Hurting Hugh' was an important story for me, as I was 'painting a portrait' of a friend and I really wanted it published in your 'Getting Even: Revenge Stories' antho.

After a trip to Ottawa I changed the route along the Rideau Canal that the protagonist takes, as she would be cranking the wheel to the right, not the left, at a key moment in the story.

Unfortunately, I forgot to change the broken headlight on the car to the right as well, which was tremendously important (to me). So I did something I try never to do, I emailed you to ask if I could make the change and resubmit the story (this was before I knew I'd be getting author's proofs.) You graciously replied 'Of course. It's nice to know there are other authors out there who are as obsessive about detail as I am.'

I loan my author's copy of 'Getting Even' to friends who are in the process of divorce and they always enjoy it immensely. I know, I should be making them buy their own copies but...

One woman who really got a kick out of the book was 'widowed' by her boyfriend of twenty years, whom she tended faithfully during his long, slow descent into the ground, only to discover that he had left everything to a wife and kids she never knew he had.

Oh Mitzi DO drop over later for tea and stickies. I'd be so chuffed, eh!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Oh, while we're talking about the pitfalls of global "replace" ... one of my favorite Alison Tyler stories is "Search and Replace," which takes that word-processing routine as a point of departure!

Madeline Moore said...

Kristina, the sudden shower business is baffling, to say the least. I thought we were supposed to write about dirty girls? I am still learning how NOT to write out EVERYTHING. ie. 'She went to the door, turned the knob, opened it and left.'

In terms of my daughter's novel, I told her she needed 'more detail' instead of 'more telling detail' and the poor thing added even MORE of the kind of statement I just typed above. I felt bad about that.

Jeremy, no complaint about my wet panties link? I'm surprised...
Thank you for your comments, I know you are a real word freak so I had hoped you'd check out today's post.

I'm due for a massage now (professional, if you please) and after this post I really need it so I must duck out for a bit but I'll return anon. Ta ta for now.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Jeremy, no complaint about my wet panties link?

No: I find that if one squints at the page you linked to long enough, it does sort of start to look like a sketch of a sexy woman gleefully soaking herself.

(Or maybe that's just on my monitor.)

maxim said...

Proofing: the bane of an author's life.

I sometimes regret writing and/or editing so many books on every single occasion the proofs arrive in the mail, or more likely in recent times as a monstrous email attachment.

is this why I began writing?

No...

Olivia Knight said...

Maxim... take a leaf out of my book. Instead of seeing it as an onerous and tedious chore, view it as an opportunity for anally-retentive self-righteousness to let rip! For various complex reasons, my knowledge of grammar is scarily comprehensive. Woe to the editor who "corrects" my grammar! As for punctuation, Lynn Truss emails me with queries. I approach proofing as one going to war.

(I seem to remember previously mentioning the Olivia Knight School of Mental Health... Here's Lesson 3: Harnessing your OCD.)

Madelynne Ellis said...

Seems I'm late to the party as usual. Yep, never could manage definitely without a few run ups.

I think my worst experience with proofs was when the delightful editor changed various occurrences of bottom, buttocks, arse etc to arse-cheeks. Arse-cheek! Really, no. It's just BAAAAAD!

Alison Tyler said...

I dread proof reading. I'm always scared of what I'm going to find. But as far as an editor's view point on making changes, I wrote this the other day.

In a perfect world, writers would always have final approval on all changes made to their pieces. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. (Which is how my name got spelled "Alsion" in one Virgin book.)

XXX,
AT

Anonymous said...

Maxim, I think most of us would like to work like Barbara Cartland, lolling on chases while our minions tended to all the chores. Thank Erato for editors!

Felix

Anonymous said...

Darling Madeline, I make no apologies for poring over your work, looking for clues to your secret lusts. That's how we came together, after all, you reading my work and me yours.
Everyone who writes novels exposes themselves, no matter how hard they try to hide. I can't think of a better way to establish erotic compatibility than by reading each others fiction.

As for that food incident, the peanut butter stains came out of the sheets, eventually, didn't they?

Felix

kristina lloyd said...

Damn. Now I just imagined Felix and Maxim in big pink frocks.

'Scuse me, please, while I go poke out my mind's eye.

Madeline Moore said...

Ohhhh, back from my massage and it hurts soooo good. I told my new masseuse, 'You are going to make me cry uncle.' That's the closest I've ever come to telling a masseuse 'That's too hard!' Make of it what you will.

Thank you for swooping by, Maxim! It's true, writing and proofreading are two very different processes, the former creative and the latter - decidedly not.

That's why the 'quick and easy' proofreading gigs may in fact BE quick and easy, for a real proofreader, but are so very terribly tedious for me.

There is no such thing as a published book that is completely error-free. I know this because in Canada, Margaret Atwood is a world famous author who is known for her pickiness. Apparantly you do not TOUCH one of her commas without her approval. Yet the first edition hard cover of 'Alias Grace' contained an error. If Atwood can't get an error free novel published, I do not believe anyone can.

Also, on the CBC TV arts report, when her book shot up the Best Seller lists to number one, the reporter mispronounced 'alias' as like so - Ah Lye Ass.

Felix, how DOES one lie around on a chase? Hmmmmm...I do remember you once referring to our coming together like so: 'I lay down and you came and rested your head in my lap.'

I shouldn't be such a smarty pants because there are two errors in my Proofreading piece (that I have spotted so far.) Much as my fingers ache to edit and repost, I will not. STET.

Oops, I did it again!

Madeline Moore said...

Alison Tyler I do not honestly know how you do what you do, which is write tonnes of marvelous stories and books for a number of different publishers AND edit tonnes of stories and books for a number of different publishers, including your own Pretty Things Press.

Yes, I know your motto,'I'll sleep when I'm dead.' I could not disagree more. Sleep...beautiful sleep...OMG there are not a lot of things I'd rather do than sleep (but there are a few, and after the things I'd rather do than sleep, I like to sleep...beautiful sleep.)

You are a powerhouse, pure and simple. As you know, I thought your story in 'B is for Bondage' (and for those who don't know, Alison ends each of the Erotic Alphabet anthos with a story) 'Safe' was brilliant.

Youth, in this case, is not being wasted on the young...

Mathilde Madden said...

I remember that for Peep Show one proof reader wanted to correct some of my viewpoint character's wilder ways with grammar. And apparently the number of 'kind of's and 'sort of's was salvaged for me by the ed.

There is one correction in The Silver Collar that rankles:

'Zac always knew where to stand to look a little bit movie poster'

became

'Zac always knew where to stand to look a little bit like a movie poster.'

But no unsanctioned quick showers. I kind of guess I'm sort of lucky

Madeline Moore said...

Hey Mat, thanks for beaming aboard!
I loved the language of 'Peep Show' and took umbrage with the reader reviewer on Amazon who whined about the English words and 'grammatical errors.' I remember liking this, 'Pot. Kettle.'

Would it be better had you typed out the (grammatically correct) cliche. 'It was like the pot calling the kettle black.'

Nope.

But I agree with you, you were lucky with that book. Imogene was an original heroine with an original voice and a lot of editors probably would've mauled it to pieces to make it 'right'.

ps...may I ask after Cocky's well being?

Madeline Moore said...

Before I go for my masseuse ordered nap, a couple of quick things.

Madelynne, while I recently came to the decision that as the English language comes from England, the rest of the world has no business whining about how the English spell, pronounce, mangle and invent new words for it, I must admit I do not like the word 'arse' and I hate 'arse cheeks'. I feel your pain.

Erastes, loved the link, especially where one guy says: The last graf is the most important. (:
graf? short for paragraph? OoooOOoooOOoooo

Portia, all I can say is, good luck. It is a tough job. I'd offer to help you (and Erastes) but...well...I'd really rather not.

Janine, you picked out one of my two errors, which is in the title of the picture of Adam and the Birds, where I put a period after St, which is still done in North America but is not done in UK, which is the style the post is supposed to be in. The other error I see is the missing quotation mark at the end of this sentence: 'Take off, you, before you get hurt.
I think, somewhere in there there is also an open-ended parentheses but, like I said, I've been ordered to sleep.

Finally, Felix, that was peanut butter? I'm glad that confusion has been sorted out.

Ta for now!

Kate Pearce said...

Just noticed that blogger declined to show my earlier posy-probably due to grammatical errors :)

I write for 3 different publishers and they all have their own unique in-house style, which means I'm always wrong, however I punctuate.
I spend a lot of time getting my 'Cheek' books nice and American only to have someone at Black Lace Towers change stuff back to Britspeak which then makes my American readers email me and tell me I can't spell right-sigh.

I do love copy editors, though-one of them very kindly explained the differences between cum, pre-cum and come to me when I'd got a bit confused (sad but true)

and then there was the lovely Kensington copy editor who noticed that I left my heroine's 76 yr old chaperone at a coaching inn and never mentioned her again in the entire book-good catch I think!

Great article!

Deanna Ashford said...

Proofreading is a pain and I don't always trust my spellchecker I often turn to my trusty Oxford Concise Dictionary.

Historicals are more difficult. There are so many words you can't use because they wouldn't have been around at the time i.e mesmerise.

Trouble is when I'm proofreading my manuscript before I send it to my publisher more often than not I start changing text as well. I have to be really firm with myself at times otherwise I'd be changing odd words or phrases here and there forever.

Madeline Moore said...

Proofreading doesn't really end until the deadline arrives. Deanna, I too often resort to a dictionary - 'The Collins English Dictionary.'

Kate, thank you for the positive stories about copy editors.

Simon emailed me with a query regarding a line in 'Amanda's Young Men'

‘Just orange juice and champagne. It used to be a traditional breakfast drink, back in Regency times.’ (p.137)

Is this true? I always thought Buck’s Fizz was first concocted and named in the 1920s.

Quite right, Simon, and thank you! The line was rewritten and I saved face. Phew.

I found another error in my post -
"Felix is there a hyphen in half-back" should have a question mark.

Must escape OCD re: Proofreading post...must watch TV...

Alison Tyler said...

Hey Mat,

This is the type of conversation that fully freaks me out. Because I would have made that exact change, and not given a second thought to adding the "like a." Seriously. And I would have been, um, gobsmacked to learn that the two words should have been left out!

XXX,
AT

Anonymous said...

Little sister writes:
Excellent piece on proofreading. I can imagine proofreading an entire novel would be painstaking - but I'm shocked at all the errors I see in short little presentations at work. I work in Information Technology so the content is nothing like yours - but would it kill people to put 2 sentences together correctly? Or spell the product name (one word) right? Then they get so offended when I point out the error (as a techie I guess I'm supposed to be equally illiterate).
My pet peeve is apostrophes. I read a book called "Eats Shoots and Leaves" written by a woman completely anal about apostrophes (although the title would indicate the 'comma' is the important punctuation here). Anyway, I told lots of people about the book, and recently I told a guy at work who started realing with laughter about what the title of the book means - apparently it's the punch line to a dirty joke. The book had a panda on it, so I think the guy is cracked.
Funny, my word I could never spell properly was occasion too! I decided to cross 2 c's to get to the 's'. Something like the s's in dessert and desert, but I can't remember how that one goes!
And yes, here in Canada we say 'leant' when we're supposed to be saying 'loaned' - I don't know if 'leant' is even correct in that case.
Believe me, I read "Hurting Hugh" with the utmost interest, being the protege for the main character and all (yes, my love life has really sucked at times). I recommend it - it's extremely satisfying and last time I bumped into my 'ex' in a mall, I had fantasies of meeting him in the dark parking lot after closing - me in my car, and him en route to his.
Great work Madeline!