Self-editing

Wrong name and/or wrong pronoun

Lately I’ve been irked by a certain kind of error that I’ve run into more times than I should have. As I was reading some novels for pleasure (as opposed to reading them as a copy-editing job), I was shocked to come across the names of main characters being switched around.

When Tom was meant, Luke was used instead, and vice versa. This happened several times in one novel. I found the same mistake in another novel I recently read, and the wrong pronoun (“her” instead of “him”)  was used.

The author should have caught these mistakes in the self-editing part of the writing process, but since it is not the kind of error that a spellchecker or grammar checker would catch, it can easily go unnoticed.

If you have changed your character’s name after writing the first draft, you might want to have a closer look  for cases of having used the wrong name.

Have you changed your POV?

Also, if you have decided to rewrite your ms with a different POV, it will require close scrutiny when you check your ms for errors. I’ve done this kind of thing myself, where I’ve written several chapters in third person POV and then decided to switch to first person. It can be awkward to read something like:

I hurried down to the dock to wave goodbye. She hoped I was not too late.

Switching pronouns

Another horror of self-editing can happen if you decide to change a character from female to male. Let’s say you decided that a male character would work better in a certain role. You would have to change all the cases of “her” to “him.” To make the job easier you might want to use the Find and Replace feature in your Word program. But be careful not to make sweeping changes without looking at each case first, or you might end up changing “mother” to “mothim,”  “father” to “fathim,” and “other” to “othim.”

It helps to type a space before and after the word “her” in Find. That would avoid words with the letters h-e-r in them from being selected. Trust me, there are a lot of words with these letters in them. You don’t want to have to sort them all out.

And then what?

Self-editing is good and necessary, but, after you have checked your ms for all of these (and many other) errors, it will still be worthwhile to have a copy-editor go through your work. A good copy-editor can save you from embarrassment, and consequent bad reviews, when readers find mistakes in your published work.

If you would like to know more about my copy-editing work, please click the “Copy-editing Services”  tab on the top of this blog. 

***** ACK! It happened AGAIN!*****

I just put up this post and sat down to read a book. I couldn’t believe it would happen again so soon, but the author of yet another book put in the wrong name. 

Mr. Jones is in a conversation with X, discussing the demise of Mr. Smith. Two sentences later, it is Mr. Jones who is referred to as the dead guy. 

The story is going down, down, down in my estimation. This is after several other smaller errors. Sigh….

 

Words that Jar

I know I’ve mentioned some of these misused words and expressions before, but lately I’ve heard them so often, particularly in TV news reports, that I felt another post about them was warranted.

You would think that people who make a living from publishing their reports would get the language correct, and yet, it seems that these reporters and news anchors don’t have anyone supervising their grammar skills. No one suggests to them that they should speak English correctly if they are going to address the public.

They repeat these same mistakes almost daily.

The first one that really bothers me is “regards.” When they mean “pertaining to” or “about” a certain subject, why do they first have to send a greeting to it?

Perhaps they’re going to talk about the tent cities springing up outside high schools in Seattle. First the news anchor has to send his regards to the tent city.

“With regards to the tent city, hi, how are you doing? I’m thinking of you. Have a nice day.”

While they’re at it, why don’t they send their regards to my Aunt Mary and me? We feel left out.

But sending a greeting is what they are doing, when they really meant to say, “And now, about the tent cities….” Or maybe, “And now, concerning the tent cities….” Or maybe, “With regard to the tent cities….”

Okay, I feel better now that I’ve blown off some steam on that one.

*****

Here is another one that really bugs me. Same thing – usually reporters and news anchors misusing the terms.

Amount or number?

If you can weigh it or shove it all together in a mass, the term you want is “amount.

The amount of water in a glass, the amount of garbage in the can, the amount of rice in the pot. These are things that can be measured or scooped up in a heap.

So when I hear them say the amount of people in the crowd, I’m already wondering how many pounds they mean. Maybe there are a thousand pounds of people in the crowd?

Anything that is countable (theoretically) is referred to as a number of things. I said theoretically, because you wouldn’t want to count the number of daffodils growing on a hillside, but theoretically, you could.

Examples:

The number of people in the crowd.

The number of raindrops, but the amount of rain.

The number of grains of sand, but the amount of sand.

The amount of wood in the shed, but the number of pieces of firewood.

The amount of rice, but the number of grains of rice.

The amount of frustration I feel when I hear the news anchor misuse these words, but the number of times I feel that frustration.

AAAARRRGGHHHHH!