What Did I Learn? Pt.2

There is a reason why editors exist. I am still learning this the hard way. When I wrote ‘Bunco’, I had a small team of editors working with me.

Development Editors. My development editors were my wife, Sheila, and my cousin, George, but especially my daughter, Marianne. These early readers gave me feedback on plot issues, character problems and so on. Actually, my wife was editing as I wrote, because I would ask her opinion on ‘Should she do this next?’ kind of questions. But Marianne had some strongly held views on a couple of fairly fundamental issues. She persuaded me to rewrite a pretty big section of the book.

As the writer, working with my three development editors was fun.

Not so much with:

Line or Copy Editors. These are the good people helping me fnid find typos, spelling mistakes – license/licence and errors of grammar. As well as the three people mentioned above, another five or six friends read drafts of the book and between them spotted hundreds of mistakes.

The thing to remember here is that I had already read everything four or five times before anyone else ever saw it. So I had missed these, often basic, mistakes, multiple times. Word duplication duplication, basic speling mistakes (usually avtually ttyping mishtakes.

I just cannot believe how difficult it is to correct one’s own words. I guess that I am seeing what I intended to write, as opposed to what I actually typed. Errors I would spot in a heartbeat as a reader, I missed tens of times as a writer. Frustrating!

Rather than put my friends through it all again, I would dearly love to be able to employ a professional next time!

But I’m not a prescriptive grammarian – hence the initial ‘but’ there. I believe that the primary function of language is communication, and as long as communication is achieved, we’re on the right track. We habitually say ”Him and I’, ‘Who should I give it to?’, ‘It’s for cutting things with.’ I see nothing wrong with any of these, especially in dialogue. In one of my short stories, I have a character ask ‘Amn’t I?’ I’m not sure that I have ever seen this written down before, but I have certainly heard it hundreds of times.

Of course, language use should also try to be pleasing to the ear. However, I think that many arbitrary decisions about what is pleasing are simply other ways of trying to mandate what is ‘proper’.

Finally, I listened to this programme and was delighted to learn that I had Shakespeare on my side when it comes to the benefit of simplified American spelling. I rest my case, your honor.

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