Quick Link: Copyediting: When Little Changes Matter

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Little differences can add up to big change. This is especially true with editing your story. On Jami Gold’s site, guest author Misti Wolanski provides some great tips for getting down into the nitty gritty of copy editing your manuscript. I am bookmarking this one for references later!

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Copyediting: When Little Changes Matter — Guest: Misti Wolanski

March 31, 2016

Portrait of smart girls making word ‘school’

Jami Gold, Misti Wolanski

I’ve spoken before about the different types of editors. Each type of editor and/or editing pass helps us strengthen a different aspect of our work: the storytelling, the writing itself, and the grammar of our sentences.

As a developmental editor, I focus a lot on the storytelling aspect of writing craft in my posts here: character arcs, plots and subplots, stakes and motivations, etc. But any peek at Amazon reviews reveals that the common “needs editing” complaint usually refers to copyediting.

That is, complaints about editing quality from readers usually focus on grammar and word choice and usage. (In contrast, storytelling issues are usually revealed through complaints about characters and plot holes, and writing issues are usually called out with complaints about voice, clarity, or “weak writing.”)

That copyediting-style focus makes sense. Most of us think we learned the basic rules of grammar and mechanics in school, so that’s the level of editing most of our readers feel qualified to judge and call out as bad editing.

That potential of being called out in reviews is just one reason why copyediting is so important. The changes copyeditors make often seem small, but they add up over a story’s pages, and sometimes the wrong usage of a word or punctuation mark can change the meaning of our writing.

Today, my friend—and one of my copyeditors—Misti Wolanski (also known as Carradee) is here to help me out while I’m still struggling with vision issues. (My doctor initially misdiagnosed the problem, but I’m hopeful the follow-up tests this week nailed down the problem—and the fix.) Thank you, Misti!

For an in-depth look at how some of the smallest words can have a big impact on how readers interpret our work, please welcome Misti Wolanski! *smile*


Do You Need “a” Word or “the” Word?

Let’s say you’re writing something—a blog post, a story, a comment somewhere—and you start out with, “The problem is that nobody listens.” Solid sentence, right. You have a subject, verb, dependent clause…

But which nobody are you talking about? Nobody in a particular place? Nobody in a particular demographic?

And what, exactly, is nobody not listening to?

So you revise your sentence to be more clear, and you say, “The problem is that people listen to what they think you’re saying rather than what you’re actually saying.”

Read the full post on Jami Gold’s site

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