Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The title of this blog was inspired by my cousin's cooking blog (lots of good recipes, by-the-by). I like to cook too, but I also like to copyedit. No, make that love to copyedit. I've been known to copyedit travel brochures while on vacation, just to get some copyediting in. And some of the travel brochures have needed it. And travel articles in magazines. I am not one of those "correct people's grammar in conversation" types--I am very anti that because it's rude and gives English majors a totally unjustified bad rep. What I'm interested in is clear, concise communication for readers, any readers of any thing, be it book, article, brochure, letter, or even memo. Or even the direct mail that sometimes doesn't get much of a read because it's something we didn't ask to receive.

My interest in good communication for readers began in childhood, though I did not realize it then. When I wasn't with family or friends or watching tv, I was reading, and that was simply another form of entertainment. I read the My Book House Books series my parents bought for me at the State Fair, and kids' books--fiction and biography--with an occasional foray into the World Book Encyclopedia just for a change. Later I moved on to young adult fiction, more non-fiction while continuing with biographies, and poetry and plays. All that reading gave me a knowledge and instinct for what makes a good sentence and a not-so-good sentence, a knowledge and instinct for what readers should expect out of whatever they happen to be reading. Later on, my schooling gave me more knowledge and more practice writing, which also helped. I really don't remember what I copyedited first. But I soon realized that I loved that task.

Why do I love copyediting? Besides making sure a text communicates properly, my love for copyediting has to do with the creativity and problem-solving mystery of it all. Now, problems like subject-verb agreement or typos are clear cut--you fix the agreement, retype the word correctly, and that's it. But if a sentence is really snarled, or there are what one of my profs called "wandering verb tenses," or the pronouns go from singular to plural and back again, there's more than one way to fix the problem, and that's where the creativity and problem-solving mystery of it comes in. It's like, perhaps more prosaically, fixing a plumbing problem or filling the potholes in a road. It's like carving out what's unnecessary, to reveal the text. It's like putting a puzzle together and being able to change the pieces without changing the picture. It's challenging, creative, and fun.

But that's not all there is to it. Read this blog tomorrow for why copyediting is important. And have a good day!

No comments:

Post a Comment