I often joke about how irritating good copyeditors are.
Of course, I jest.
Good copyeditors are the saviors of the book world. It takes an editor to see the forest, but the copyeditors see the trees.
I am grateful for them.
Below is a sampling of the latest irritating, um, I mean, brilliant comments from my copyeditor, the savior (from The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester).
Notice how many of the queries address the problem of repetitious words.
My bad, as they say....
And notice the comment about page 124. I was so fascinated by this one because I use that expression "A lightbulb went off" all the time. OFF? *forehead thwack* What the heck is wrong with me? Of course, the lightbulb went ON. Duh...
p.5, 2nd paragraph: “The very idea of that poor sick old man up there in the bed not able to do a thing but sleep and eat applesauce and you down here thinking up ways to make my life miserable.” Rep of “up” OK?
p.11: ‘ “Besides,” Viola said. “Frogs only eat bugs…” ‘ OK to change to: ‘ “Besides,” Viola said, “frogs only eat bugs…” ‘ (to show she’s continuing her sentence)?
p.22, 3rd para: ‘ “I know y’all are up there.” That irritating voice slithered up the ladder…’ Rep of “up” OK?
p.22, middle of page: “What’re ya’ll building?” This should be “y’all,” as throughout, so we’re fixing.
p.22, 2nd line from bottom: “…he looked at Owen in a what-now? kind of way.” C says this should be: “…he looked at Owen in a What now? kind of way.” (italicized, cap on “What,” no hyphen)
p.24, middle of page: “First of all, he said it all the time.” Rep of “all” OK?
p.26, middle of page: ‘More than anything, he wanted to say, “Where?” ’ There shouldn’t be a comma after “say” here, so we’re deleting it (‘More than anything, he wanted to say “Where?” ’). Same goes for the sentence below it, which will now read: ‘But he knew that Viola wanted him to say “Where?” ’
p.28: “And they found an old metal thing with a rusty bolt sticking out of it.” And next line: “But none of those things seemed like something…” Rep of “thing’/”things” OK?
p.29, line 6: ‘ “I mean, maybe it was farther up that way.” Travis nodded up the tracks.’ And just below: “Owen looked up the tracks.” Reps of “up” OK?
p.30, middle of page: “…the boys made a pact to go farther up the tracks the next day, if they could ditch that nosy Viola.” C says: “But they don’t go farther up the tracks the next day. Instead, they plan and start building a cage for Tooley. Breaking a pact is a serious thing for boys? Change here to something like “…the boys made a pact to go farther up the tracks as soon as they could.” Or change something later?”
p.32, middle of page: “Clatter. Clatter. Clatter.” Change here to “Clatter, clatter, clatter.” (with commas, lower case), to match usage on p.10? Or change p.10 to match here?
p.33, line 1: “It would be big enough for swimming and jumping.” And a little farther down: “…with room for Tooley to swim in big, big circles…” Rep of “big” OK?
p.35, middle of page: “Earlene’s face turned red as fire as she jammed the duct tape back into the junk drawer.” And next line: “…Earlene stood stiffly beside him, her fists jammed into her waist…” Rep of “jammed” OK?
p.35, 7 lines from bottom: “hoard” should be spelled “horde,” so we’re fixing it.
p.37, just before line break: “Let’s hide this stuff in the bushes and go over to Stumpy’s and make a plan.” And next line: “While Joleen Berkus glared over at them…” Rep of “over” OK?
p.44, middle of page: “Viola stood up and brushed dirt off her shorts.” And 3 lines from bottom: “Viola brushed past the boys and skipped toward the hedge.” Rep of “brushed” OK?
p.45, middle of page: “And then, the sky turned dark, lightning flashed, and the rain poured down…” C asks if we would like to delete the comma after “then” (“And then the sky turned dark…”). Since they’re asking your/our opinion, I’m assuming either way is grammatically fine. Up to you.
p.50, 2nd line from bottom: “You think you know everything but you don’t.” C says: “There would be a pause after ‘everything,’ so OK to add comma?” (“You think you know everything, but you don’t.” Change or stet?
p.52, 3rd para: “…and raced up the path…” And two lines down: “…blinking up at the summer sky.” Rep of “up” OK?
p.52, middle of page: “The back door opened…” Next line: “Her eyes darted from him to Tooley to Travis to Stumpy and back to him.” And next line: “You’re not going back yonder to those train tracks, are you?” Reps of “back” OK?
p.75, 4 lines from bottom: ‘He let out a satisfied “Aaah.” ‘ C says this should be spelled “Ahhh,” so we’re changing it.
p.79, middle of page: “But his voice didn’t sound nearly as sure of himself as he wanted it to.” C says this line doesn’t entirely make sense, in that “his voice” is not “himself.” She suggests changing the line to something like: “But his voice didn’t sound nearly as convincing as he wanted it to.” What do you think?
p.81, middle of page: Currently it all looks like this:
And then . . .
. . . another frog joined in at the same time . . . and then another . . .
Until there seemed to be a whole chorus of bullfrogs.
C would like to break it up a little differently, to read:
And then . . .
. . . another frog joined in at the same time . . .
and then another . . .
. . . until there seemed to be a whole chorus of bullfrogs.
(Although now that I’m looking at it, it seems to me that if we’re going to do that, we should really add ellipses before the “and then another,” too, so that all the middle lines begin and end with ellipses… Anyway, what do you think? Any strong opinions??)
p.82, 2nd para: “A sprinkler chug, chug, chugged in circles…” C says we should italicize the “chug”s here (“A sprinkler chug, chug, chugged in circles…”)
p.85, 6 lines from bottom: “Owen and Travis high-fived Stumpy and they hurried out of the hayloft…” OK to change to: “Owen and Travis high-fived Stumpy, and they all hurried out of the hayloft…” (adding a comma after “Stumpy” and “all” after “they”)? Otherwise, it sounds as if only Owen and Travis hurry out of the hayloft, leaving Stumpy behind.
p.87, 1st line: “Travis let a string of cusswords fly and Stumpy broke off a branch…” C says there should be a comma after “fly” (“Travis let a string of cusswords fly, and Stumpy broke off a branch…”), so we’re adding one.
p.91, line 5: ‘ “I’m allergic to pine,” she said. “And ragweed and pigweed and . . .” ‘ With the ellipses here it means that Viola is merely trailing off in her thoughts, rather than being interrupted by Travis’s next line (“Then you better go home before you die.” (P.S. This is probably my favorite line in the whole book. :) ). If that’s the case, OK to stet. If she IS being interrupted here, we should replace the ellipses with an em-dash (“And ragweed and pigweed and—“). Stet or change?
p.93, line 3: “First, they had searched inside the submarine for some kind of instructions for how to run it.” Rep of “for” OK here? (Perhaps change the second one to “on” or “about”?)
p.95, line 4: “Owen looked down into the cage. Tooley floated in the dirty water, nestled up against the side of the cage…” Rep of “the cage” OK?
p.95, middle of page: “It had been so much fun, trying to figure out if the frog he spotted was his frog. The one with the heart-shaped red spot between his eyes.” Rep of “spotted”/”spot” OK?
p.102, middle of page: “Ah, heck.” C says this should be: “Aw, heck.” So we’re changing it.
p.103, 3 lines from bottom: ‘ “Besides,” he added. “I know Viola better than anybody.” ’ OK to change the period after “added” to a comma (‘ “Besides,” he added, “I know Viola...” ’)?
p.105, line 2: “I decided to come help y’all, after all.” And p.106, last line: “Maybe inviting Viola to help had been a good idea, after all.” Rep of “after all” OK?
p.115, after line break: “While Mrs. Suttles put a smiley face sticker on his Bible passage work sheet…” C says “smiley face” should have a hyphen here (“smiley-face sticker”), as should “Bible passage” (“Bible-passage work sheet”), so we’re fixing them. We’ll also be changing “smiley-face stickers” on this same page, last line, to match.
p.118, 1st line: “Good-bye, Tooley.” C says this should be: “Goodbye” (no hyphen), so we’re changing.
p.120, 3 lines from bottom: ‘…then said, “Uh, see ya,” before heading off up the path after Travis.’ And next line: “Owen picked up the biggest rock…” Rep of “up” OK?
p.124, middle of page: “A lightbulb went off.” Ce asks if this would make more sense as “A lightbulb went on.” (See also p.125: “A lightbulb went off again.”)
p.128, middle of page: “The sound of the submarine falling off of the train.” C says we should delete the “of” after “off” here (“The sound of the submarine falling off the train.”), so we are.
p.136, 2nd para: ‘ “Before launching your Water Wonder 4000,” she read, “there are a few simple tests to perform first.” ’ OK to delete “first” here, since it is redundant in conjunction with “before”? The line would read: “Before launching your Water Wonder 4000 . . . there are a few simple tests to perform.” OK?
p.146, 7 lines from bottom: ‘ “Besides,” Owen said. “That Frog Town idea was dumb.” ’ OK to change the period after “said” to a comma (‘ “Besides,” Owen said, “that Frog Town idea was dumb.” ’)?
p.151, 2nd para: “She flipped to the page with the heading: READY, SET, GO: Starting Your Water Wonder 4000” C says there shouldn’t be a colon after “heading,” so with it all on the separate lines it will now look like:
She flipped to the page with the heading
READY, SET, GO:
Starting Your Water Wonder 4000
p.153, 1st line: “Owen had to admit that when they first sank down below the surface of the pond…” OK to delete “down” (“Owen had to admit that when they first sank below the surface of the pond…”)? C says “sank down below” is redundant, and deleting it here will also avoid the rep of “down” in the next paragraph (“…his somersaulting stomach settled down…”) OK to delete?
p.159, middle of page: “Earlene marched down the hallway, her heavy shoes making a clomp, clomp noise on the wooden floor…” C says the “clomp”s should be italicized here (“…her heavy shoes making a clomp, clomp noise…”), so we’re changing.
p.164, just before line break: “…they were all going over to the railroad freight yard…” And just after the break: “…and hurried over to the bed.” Rep of “over” OK?