Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I just got the edits on my story from Torquere. I've been feeling really excited and at the same time dreading it a bit -- sort of a combination of, "Come on, come on, next stage, let's go, wanna be published!" along with, "Omigod, what are they gonna do to it?!?!" [laugh]

Turns out they didn't do much, which pleases me to no end. It was just a handful of things, marked in Track Changes on the Word document. Which I've never used before -- I was wondering if I'd have to go hunting through the menus to find it but they're right there and very obvious, although I had to expand the window horizontally to see the notes. They look just like traditional proofreader's margin notes, though, which makes sense but was still sort of cool.

There were two misspellings [duck] and a bunch of very minor stylistic changes, most having to do with punctuation, some separating or pulling apart of sentences, a "dammit" changed to "damn it," that sort of thing. And they don't like compound ending punctuation. I tend to use ?! occasionally and there were one or two of those in this story, both of which got axed down to just ? instead. Nothing I couldn't easily live with.

One thing cracked me up, though -- I've been trying to cut down on my habit of putting a comma before a conjunction. I do it a lot and technically you're not supposed to, but sometimes I think it makes the sentence clearer. I can get a bit excessive, though, so I've been cutting down.

They put a bunch of them back, LOL! Ah, well. I'll have to keep that in mind when I next prep a story to submit to Torquere.

All in all, though, it was a much less painful process than I thought it'd be. There was literally nothing really significant, no major changes at all. I was half expecting to have to cut out the poem at the end, for example. It's really awful doggerel, and although it's supposed to be awful doggerel, I could see someone just wanting to X it out completely. They left it, though, which is cool. [hearts on her editor]

So, I replied to say that it looks fine and the next step is putting it on the schedule. Whee! Can't wait -- I'll definitely be plastering that all over the blogosphere when I get it. :D



Bernita said...

Track Changes does take come getting used to.
"putting a comma before a conjunction. I do it a lot and technically you're not supposed to, but sometimes I think it makes the sentence clearer."
You're not supposed to?
When did this rule come into effect?

Angie said...

It's actually an old rule, one of the things my high school English teachers used to ding me on. (I'm forty-four for reference.)

I do it anyway because sometimes it helps to break up a compound sentence with a comma or two, give the reader a visual cue about how things are organized, where one thought ends and another begins. More people do it nowadays, but sometimes I go overboard out of habit.

I guess it's just a matter of figuring out what your editor's preference is. Or just doing it your own way and letting them fix it, I suppose. :)


Shauna said...

Looks like you have a debate about the comma before a conjunction rule. LOL I was taught to use them and this is the example I was given:

If, in your will, you leave your estate to your children: "John, Mary, and Emily" they will each get a fair split. However, if you leave it to your children: "John, Mary and Emily," John will get 1/2 of the estate, Mary and Emily will get 1/4 each because dropping the comma implies they are a paired item.

Does that make sense? At any rate, it's interesting to see what editors prefer because they are the only opinion that matters ;-)

Thanks for sharing. Good luck with the rest of the process :)

Angie said...

Shauna -- looking at your example, I can see where the logic is coming from, but I wouldn't rely on the presence or absence of an Oxford comma to ensure that the estate got divided as I intended. [wry smile] And I wasn't talking about lists so much as commas between clauses.

When I was in high school, the rule was that you never put a comma before a conjunction, period, and if we did we got marked down. Of course, most of what I know about English I learned outside the classroom, usually while workshopping, both when people commented on my work and while commenting on other people's.

Of course, I consciously ignore the comma-conjunction rule whenever it feels like the comma would help the reader take proper hold of the sentence. I punctuate for readability and getting my point across, and particularly in dialogue, for giving the reader a proper sense of just how the character is speaking. In this case, I had one place where one character was just babbling away and I deliberately had him blathering on in a run-on sentence. My Torquere editor chopped it up into a couple of proper sentences. I'll admit that if I were a bit more sure of myself, I might've squawked it; I knew it was technically wrong but I did it deliberately and for a purpose. I don't feel the meaning or flow is damaged all that much, though, so I'm willing to be a cooperative first timer and let it go. I can think of a few other stories I might submit, though, and one in particular, where I definitely would squawk any attempt to chop up my run-on dialogue.

When it comes down to it, I'm not as worried about what the rules are as I am about what's being communicated and how. There's a difference between breaking the rules because you don't know any better and breaking the rules deliberately and for a particular purpose. I punctuate more by feel these days, rather than by applying rules at every step, and for the most part that works nicely. Every now and then I get careless and make a mistake, though, as everyone does, and the editor caught a few of those. Which is his job and that's cool. There are times when I'd be willing to dispute a change, if what I had gives a certain effect and the edit changes that too much; that didn't happen this time, though, for which I'm grateful. :)

Hi and welcome, BTW! [wave]


Charles Gramlich said...

I almost always put commas before conjunctions. It just seems right to me. But yeah, I'd take out any and all multple punctuation marks.

Angie said...

Charles -- maybe it depends where you went to school, then? Or maybe my English teachers were just cracked, LOL! It's funny that I seem to be the only one who was taught not to. [bemused smile]

I don't use multiple ending punctuation very often, but sometimes it seems appropriate in dialogue. I can live without it, though, so killing it wasn't a big deal. [nod]


Travis Erwin said...

I am in this waiting for edits stage right now myself. thanks for sharing your experience. Hope mine is as painless.

Angie said...

Travis -- you're very welcome. :) I was hoping that sharing would help someone else. Best of luck with yours!