Monday, November 3, 2008

Santa's NOT an Editor

Last week, at my local RWA group, I did a table talk on grammar.

What's a table talk? It means an hour before our regular meeting, people gather at a certain table and a volunteer (in this case me) hosts a discussion on a certain topic. Last December I was asked to do a talk on grammar. Personally, I didn't think anyone would show up. Grammar? Boring. My table was full. And, surprise, surprise, I had a wonderful time. I'd made up a handout (must be the teacher in me) and thought maybe I'd share a bit here on the craftie ladies' site.

I thought I only had to write a good book and the editor would do everything else.” Quote from an innocent

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He doesn’t care what shape the pages sent to him are in. He’s not an editor. He will not simply read the first paragraph and shout, “Reject!”

My workshop started with humor(see statements above)and moved on to terms. Three basic terms: proofreading, revising, and editing. Do you know the difference between the terms? We tend to call everything we do editing, but actually editing has different components.

For example, when proofreading, you need only concern yourself with punctuation, spelling, tense, etc. Go ahead, proofread the words below. Can you find all the mistakes? Let me know via comment. I'll check the comment box later today and tell you if you find them all.

For days, eight hours, twenty two minutes.
That’s how long it had been since Mitch Williams pulls the triggar and killed a man
Two days, five hours, twelve minutes.
That’s how long Mitch had been wholed up in the isolated cabin hed purchased on a whime almost 6 months ago. Thanks to the locale he hadn’t had any visitors. Taken from Broken Lullaby by Pamela Tracy

Revising is a bit different. Revising means "change." Here's where you add words, delete words, move words - whole sentences even. There's only a single revision needed below. Can you find it?

…”Aubrey Stuart?” the voice called again.
There was simply no avoiding it. And, well, he didn’t sound mad. That was a good sign, right? Mustering her courage, she turned slowly around and came face-to-face with her ex-husband.
She had to look.
“I thought you weren’t arriving until tomorrow,” he said.
“Hello, Gage.” Taken from His Only Wife by Cathy McDavid

When most people say, "I want a good editor," they mean they want someone to proofread and revise. But, oh, getting a good editor, what a dream! He/She, with editor pen in hand, truly wants to make sure your facts are in place and make sense. A good editor will find the mistake in the quote below.

Genesis 7:1
"The Lord then said to Moses, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation." Taken from The NIV Study Bible by God

By the way, if you didn't find the mistake in the quote, you are a good reader, an excellent reader. See, those of us who read ALL THE TIME read right over mistakes because our minds have been train to read what we think/know should be there instead of what is really there.

A good editor will catch if you accidentally type that McCain is a democrat. She'll catch if you make Tucson the capital of Arizona. She'll catch if you kill off Trudy in chapter three and then have her attend church in chapter seven (unless, of course, you're writing a paranormal).


Debby Giusti said...

Hi Pam,
Great post. Grammar, editing, revisions are all so important.

Okay, I found 6 errors . . . seven if you include writing the number six instead of using the digit.

I'll stop back later to see how I scored.

Ellen said...

"For days" -- Four days
"twenty two -- twenty-two
"pulls" -- pulled
"wholed" -- hold
"hed" -- he'd
"whime" -- whim
"6" -- six

PamelaTracy said...

Okay, ladies, look for four more.

Ellen said...

OK let's try these

"triggar" - trigger
"man" - man.
"That's" - That was (used twice) I'm not really sure of this one.

PamelaTracy said...

Ellen, you did great! hold should be holed. I'm looking at the paragraph now trying to see if both work. Plus, do put a comma after locale.
So, what one thing would you change on the second example?

Jessica said...

I critiqued someone's chapter (unpubbed)a while back and mentioned that he might want to clean up his spelling, grammar, and tenses.
He responded "That's what I'll have an editor for."
I didn't know what to say. :-)
It's a common misconception, I think.

Ellen said...

I couldn't decide how to spell holed (I had been on jury duty and was tired.)
As far as the second sample goes I'm not sure about it but I don't like the "And,well," and "She had to look" seems kind of out of place when you've already "come face-to-face".

Richard Mabry said...

Just stumbled on your site and couldn't help chiming in. The "revision" paragraph appears to contain a tautology--"turned (slowly) around." Turning implies "around." So I vote for "turned slowly." Just my opinion, of course.
Great post.

Abi said...

For days - four days
twenty two - twenty-two
minutes. That's - minutes, that's
pulls - pulled
triggar - trigger
man - man.
minutes. That's - minutes, that's
wholed up - holed up
hed - he'd
whime - whim
6 - six
locale - local

PamelaTracy said...

Ellen, you nailed it again. She had to look either needs to be moved to earlier in the paragraph... or, it can be deleted altogether.

PamelaTracy said...

That's exactly why I put the comment from the innocent. And, the innocent was a real person. I was a guest speaker in a college creative writing class. The speaker waited until class was over to approach me because she was stunned that she had to do anything but write the book.

PamelaTracy said...

I'm going to look up tautology and then I'm going to start using the word. Wow, what a good suggestion. Interestingly enough, the 'around' was not revised before publication. The one I'm always catching myself on is "She sat down". Well, of course, do I really need the down.

Ellen said...

The funny thing about my finding the things that need changing was that when I first read through the paragraphs I saw nothing wrong with them....I had to deliberately concentrate on the wording to find them.