Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Copy Edits

I think I just got the copy edits of Spymaster's Lady.

It's a big white overnight package, anyway.

(Jo feels it and shakes it, wondering.)


  1. Jo,

    Would've e-mailed you about this, but couldn't find a link here to do that.

    Anyway, I dropped in at the forum this morning, just to lurk for a few minutes. First time in a very long time I've been there. Happened to see your thread about commas. Thought I would offer my input, fwiw, since obsessing over punctuation is one of my joys in life.

    Here are the sentences under discussion:

    She slumped against the wall [insert comma] which was of cut stone and immensely solid, as prison walls often are.

    Yes, definitely. This is ironclad, though often done wrong anyway, since people get confused and use "which" when they really should use "that." "Which" is non-restrictive, which simply means that the "which" clause can be eliminated and the sentence still make sense grammatically. A comma always sets off a non-restrictive clause. If the clause is restrictive--meaning it can't be separated from the rest of the sentence--"that" should be used instead of "which." In your case, "which" is correct, but that also means a comma is required.

    With such a useful stone wall to hold onto [insert comma] she would not fall down.

    Yes, most likely. It's better for rhythm, and the introductory clause is long enough that a comma helps.

    She tried to swallow [insert comma] but her throat was too dry.

    Could go either way. Up to you.

    If I had the Albion plans [insert comma] I would lay them at your feet to buy it back."

    This is dialogue, which means you can punctuate it any way you darn well please. I wouldn't use a comma there, not unless you mean for him or her to pause in the middle of that sentence.

    She could hear the other prisoners, the English spies, making small sounds on the other side of the cell, but it was dark [insert comma] and they could no longer see her.

    No comma. The sentence already has enough of them and adding one there just makes it bunpier. Not to mention it's completely unnecessary.

  2. Hi Beth --

    I went out and BOUGHT the Chicago Manual of Style. Had to mortgage the cat to do it. That is one expensive publication.

    If I'd thought to do it a month ago I would have bought it second-hand at half the price.
    Be warned by my example here when you're doing your own copyedits.

    In any case ... the Chic is just as clear as can be.
    And is that mother didactic!
    It says ... this is how it shall be done
    (rumble of thunder)

    I am working my way through the ms.

    Many of the suggested commas are somewhat judgement calls.

    For instance ... independent clauses joined by 'and' or 'but' can be separated by a comma. If they're short and well connected, they don't have to be.

    (makes it sound like rich and influential clauses ggg)

    So ... a judgement call.

    I made decisions on each of these while I was writing, but it certainly doesn't hurt to go back and reconsider. So that's what I'm doing.

    I'm stetting much more than I would like to, but I'm afraid it's necessary.

    I think I'll put up a 'technical topic' thingum on getting the copyedits back. Somebody might find it useful.