Years ago, rules for grammar and descriptors were simple, even if a monument to the patriarchy, and even somewhat awkward at times.
But today’s world is changing, and so is the language we use to refer to people. Some things that used to be acceptable are now considered offensive or inappropriate. Many of the changes to our language were designed to make it more inclusive of all members of society. Last year, the American Psychological Association endorsed the use of the singular they. This was not just to rid English of some of its patriarchal leanings, but to acknowledge that people who are nonbinary do not wish to be addressed as either he or she. So exciting was this change that Merriam Webster’s declared they the Word of the Year for 2019 .
So, given that things are changing, how do you, as an author, take these into account in your writing and editing? Continue reading “Are You Editing Your Work with Today’s World of Inclusive Language in Mind?”
If you join an online writers group, talk will eventually turn to editing: either the revisions/edits authors make to their own work or those done with the help of a word-wrangling professional. Often when I’m involved in one of those discussions, I get a sense that a lot of writers think the editing process is 1) like being forced to drink liquefied kale; 2) anathema to their creativity; and 3) completely alien to them.
We’ve had some posts about how and why to hire an editor, so I won’t go into that here. I want to talk about what makes a good editor and some ways authors can put those qualities to work to make self-editing more productive and less painful. Continue reading “Tapping into Your Inner Editor”
Long ago, before I’d thought about writing (and long before the internet and eBooks), I needed a spot of extra income. It had to be a job I could do from home at night, what with the whole single-parent thing, so I took a course in proofreading and copy-editing. Those were the days of the marvellous red pen and lovely squiggles in the margins…yeah, I took to it. I worked mostly with academic departments and non-fiction publishers in England, learned my trade, advanced to pukka editing and earned my extra pennies.
Years later, when similarly in need of a boost to the earnings, I thought about going back to the red pen. I was, however, resident in North America by this time and completely unaware that this might pose a problem beyond the bonkers spelling. I applied for a proofreading job at a local advertising company and toddled along to do their ‘little test’. Who knew? They used different squiggles! I failed utterly and decided that my editing days were over. Continue reading “Lessons Learned from Academic Editing”
I tend to find when I’ve read a book which has been a tad economic, let’s say, with the time spent on editing/proofreading (ahem!), that it’s not one particular aspect of punctuation or grammar. No…it’s the full Monty. I am going to need a shatterproof, iron-clad Kindle soon—it can’t take me hurling it at the wall in exasperation for very much longer.
So, having tackled apostrophes, semi-colons, ellipses, dashes and the that/which debate, let’s have a go at capitalisation, which seems to fox people. Like so many other cast members in the screenplay of punctuation characters, we could go on forever, so I’ll try and cover the basics in this limited space.
The best thing to try and remember is: don’t use a capital letter for a common noun unless it is absolutely essential.
Professions are not capitalised and, therefore, professor, doctor, senator, detective, president, etc., are in lowercase, unless they are followed by a proper name, or you are addressing a person in that profession: Continue reading “A Helping Hand…cApitaLisaTioN”