Deadline Diaries

Five Romance writers tell all.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Book Marches On.....

posted by Maureen

Copy edits on my paranormal/first person/comedy that’s coming out next June arrived a couple of weeks ago. And I’ve been going through the book while working on another book! Good times. If you like that whole ‘a-foot-in-two-universes’ feel.

For those of you who don’t know, a copy editor’s job is to go through your manuscript with a red pencil, changing things you love. (No, just kidding. Well, mostly.) Actually, her job is to catch all of your dangling participles, repetitive words and thank God, logic holes in my plot!! And I’ve got to say, my NAL copy editor was fabulous.

When we get the copy edits, we go through with a blue pencil changing back the things we love and writing ‘OK’ in a sheepish tone next to things we hadn’t noticed before! I’m the first to admit, a copy editor has really come through in a pinch a few times. But like every other writer I know, we grumble about some of the changes, too. My main complaint being, don’t touch my dialogue! LOL

For example, when they change something to make it grammatically correct, it sounds WRONG. People just don’t speak in grammatically correct terms in every day chats. For instance, my heroine says, “I felt like I was living in a movie.” The CE changes it to, “I felt as if I were living in a movie.” Correct? Yes. The way people speak? No.

But some of the copy editors I’ve had over the years have made some really amazing notations. One of my favorites? On a Western historical I wrote, a copy editor noted, “There is no sand in the desert. Only dirt.” Oh, okay. Sure. Someone tell the camels.

Another writer of Western historicals had a rabid coyote in one of her books. Of course, the term ‘rabid’ didn’t exist back in the day, so she referred to the coyote as ‘mad’. The copy editor went through the whole book and changed ‘mad’ to ‘angry’. Yes, folks, that’s right. The town was menaced by an angry coyote!

Ah, the world of writing is always a fun one. And one of these days, I’m going to write a whole blog about our favorite copy editor blunders. Won’t THAT make me popular??


At 9:46 AM, Blogger Susan Mallery said...

Copy editors...what is it they say? Can't kill them, can't live without them?

I love copy edit stories. It's like your worst ever English paper. Plenty of red pen and pink "flags." Basically a flag is pink sticky notes on the right side of the page, folded over, to tuck in neatly for mailing back to the author. It's asking a question. Sometimes a good question, like a messed up timeline or a logic issue. Sometimes it's just plain annoying.

One of my personal favorites was a copy editor changing the wallpaper I had in a nursery. She felt my teddy bear band wallpaper should have different instruments.

A writer friend had her heroine put fat-free half and half in her coffee. The copy editor complained there was no such thing. The author wrote back that she personally used it in her coffee every morning. :)

At 10:48 AM, Blogger Christine Rimmer said...

Copy-edits? you both said.

I've had more than one copy-editor who has saved my bacon, by pointing out gaps in logic and timeline that I somehow had failed to notice.

For instance, the hero stays over at the heroines--in the spare bedroom. Hah--on the spur of the moment. The next morning, she finds him in the kitchen with the smell of shaving cream in the air and wearing old cargoes.

Thing is, he hadn't brought his shaving kit along, since he didn't have any idea he'd be staying. And he'd been wearing jeans the night before.

Big ol' oops on my part. And thank you, CE.

OTOH, I had one CE who went through and added adverbs. Hullo?
Every sentence was "dangerously," or "hopefully." What a mess. Had to go through and put everything back the way it was supposed to be. Argh.

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Susan, that's incredible. changing the teddy bear's instruments??? jeezzz......LOL.

Chris, I'm with both of you on the 'save my bacon a time or two' thing. But man, when a CE has a secret desire to write a book, it can get ugly!

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

LOL, Maureen! I've been pretty lucky so far. CE's have changed stuff that I changed back, but nothing that made me rabid; no I mean mad; oh wait, maybe that's angry!

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

There's no sand in the desert? Really? These are all pretty funny! I want to hear more!

Jen, you're mad, simply mad!

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...

Oooh. an ANGRY Jen! LOL......yep, CE's can make you nuts.

Kate, there are soooo many funny stories!! And soon, you're going to be telling your own!!

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Christie Ridgway said...

Like the rest of you, they've made good catches for me in the past. And then they've made me nuts, too.

I had one who flat-out stated that my hero could not have been in the FBI at the time I stated he was or have been in the department I said. Well, I had researched the FBI out the ying-yang, and I knew my stuff. I was prepared to copy large pieces of research for her, but my editor told me that, uh, don't worry, she believed me! Thank goodness.

I can't get over that wallpaper thing, Susan.

At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christie, that's a great editor! Usually, I've found that the editor will come down on the writer's side, thank goodness!

One time a CE argued with me over when Levi's were first worn in the old west. I had the research to back me up, so she had to cave....

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Maureen Child said...


I'm the one who's listed as Anonymous.........wonder why??

At 9:06 AM, Blogger Kate Carlisle said...

Anonymous, Maureen? Is there something you're hiding? LOL

Blogger is so weird sometimes.


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