Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An Editorial Education

This morning I received the email that heralds the next step in my learning curve as a writer. I got back the editor’s notes on my manuscript. I’ve been waiting for this bundle of critiques and corrections with bated breath, and I’m happy to say my ego and I survived the experience.

I have a lot of notes to make for future writing, and a lot of corrections to make to my manuscript, which is currently covered in comments, trackable, colour coded highlights and editorial suggestions. But I’ve already learned a few things, and I thought I’d share.

#1 I have a passion for certain punctuation.

 I seem to have affection for the semi colon that borders on obsession, and if the number of yellow highlights in my manuscript are any indication it's got to end. It’s not you, little semi colon. It’s me. Our relationship has become unhealthy and my editor thinks it’s time I see other punctuation.

#2  I haven’t been punctuating dialogue correctly

Somewhere along the way I lost connection with commas, especially when it comes to quotation marks and dialogue tags.  For every semi colon I added to avoid a period I added a period into dialogue when it really should have been a comma. This is going to take a fair bit of re-training to get past because the habit is deeply ingrained. But I will get there.

#3 The comma splice and I have issues.

I’m not sure when I broke with twelve years of English class education and developed this bad habit, but somewhere back in time I started punctuating sentences without using the proper conjunction or any connective conjunction at all. It’s not the worst of my habits, but it was a surprise to see the occasional flash of turquoise highlighter (colour coded indicator I’d comma spliced something) when I didn’t know I’d let this lazy habit back into my life.

#4 I told a decent story

When the editor’s notes included a statement that “this story doesn’t have any clear flaws” my ego did a little jig.  I’m only three manuscripts into this career, and  if I managed 60,000 plus words of story telling without screwing it up, then I consider that glowing praise indeed.