How do you spell “Copy Edit”?

And does the question mark go on the right or the left side of the quotation mark?

Yep, my favorite time of year.  Copy edit.  I really loath copy edit.  One hundred percent down to my toes.  I never have the same copy editor twice, so I imagine that the feeling is mutual and my copy editors hate me.  I’m not very nice when they get snarky, and some of them do, because copy editors know EVERYTHING, and they are always right, even though there are accepted differences in how to spell or divide words.  There way is right, and your way is wrong, even if it isn’t.

(If you’re not familiar with copy editors, they are not your regular editor, but random people assigned by your publisher to pick apart your work, find the typos, redundant words, inconsistencies, and make sure the grammar is consistent.)

The bad ones will try to rewrite your style, thinking they are being helpful by changing intentionally bad grammar in the dialog to perfect English, or taking out a local dialect and changing it to what they are familiar with (like west coast city slang when your character is from a small town in New England).  Once, when I was writing traditional fantasy, I had a copy editor who had only worked with non fiction, which was a disaster, because he or she didn’t get the magic, and was constantly querying me on “please explain.”  And when a copy editor asks a question, you have to change your prose to answer it.

But my biggest complaint is when they add words that you don’t really need.  Words that slow the pace and clog the prose.  Once, while still in my writer’s group, I had a the pleasure of working an entire year with a professional newspaper person, and she taught me the beauty in brevity.  I like brevity.  No, I love brevity.  You keep your work spare of words, so that when you let go and use them all, the reader stops and takes notice, unconsciously realizing that THIS part is important.

I really need a good copy editor because I tend to get sloppy, and because the way I read (patterns, not words) I have a hard time seeing the typos.  I just wish they would make up their mind and be consistent.  One manuscript, they use this rule.  The next manuscript they use another, and I’m left feeling stupid and frustrated (and using my STET a lot.)

By the way, Guy hates copy edit, too.  Almost more than I do.  –grin–

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