Tag Archives: homophones

Writing: Shopping for an Editor

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I recently rejected an author’s manuscript and gave him the possibility of rewriting and resubmitting at a later date; a very rare thing to do both. At Chizine Publications we ask for three or four sample chapters and a short synopsis. I had already asked the author to send the full manuscript, after he made corrections, fixed grammar and numerous homophonic typos (bare/bear, to/two, hare/hair, staid/stayed, etc.), as well as adding details to certain sections that I had read.

When I read through the full manuscript I found many of the same errors and it looked like little had been changed if anything at all. Editors have many manuscripts to read, and day jobs on top of it in most cases. We get irritated when people don’t follow instructions, which can be anything from not submitting in the correct manuscript format, to sending inappropriate material, to not making an effort to correct what we ask for. Of course, a writer can ignore all of these things and just send to someone else.

I concluded that the writer needed to learn grammar and punctuation better and overall, story structure, but feeling his story had worth I gave a caveat of retrying with a rewrite, in time, but not right away. He wrote back and was surprised to learn that most publishers don’t give feedback nor mark the manuscript unless they’re buying the story (I had done both).  I also explained my irritation at which point he apologized because he had felt rushed and hired an editor to do the changes requested.

I sincerely hope he didn’t pay the editor that much because I don’t know what that editor did. He/she certainly did not read the sentences to catch the homophone typos, nor to check the sentence structure and catch the run-on sentences. It is possible that the author asked the editor to make corrections in regards to my notes. If that was the case then my notes only gave examples, not the full extent of what was needed.

If I’d been given such a job as a copy editor I would have been fixing those sentences. I’ve found with a few other clients that they had gone to bigger, more expensive editors first, paid out a ton of money and came back with a manuscript measled with errors. Anyone who takes on copy editing (this is different from structural editing) should look for grammar, typo and punctuation errors as the most basic step. If one is a structural editor then you’re looking at the overall plot and structure of the story.

Almost everyone can use a second set of eyes to catch errors because our fingers like to type different words than our brains think. I often put down for done or type meanign instead of meaning. And then there is the too close to the forest to see the trees syndrome. If you’ve written something and gone over it a few times you might miss a scene or a description that the reader needs to be able to understand the story.

If I was hiring an editor I would lace in a couple of different errors in a sample page or three and see what they caught. But that only works if you understand grammar and sentence structure enough. As it was, this writer left too much to an unknown quantity and didn’t check over the manuscript first so he ended up with many errors. He would have had to flesh out his own scenes because an editor cannot necessarily write in the same style nor know where the writer’s mind is for the story.

I sometimes wonder why I don’t charge more when I see the work done by more expensive editors. Like anything else, there are good and bad editors. Learning how to write will of course save you money and mean you need a copy editor’s services less. Getting comments from an editor, even if you’re rejected, are a plus. Many magazines and even book publishers send out form rejections that say something like, “This didn’t work for us.” If you get comments, if you get an invite to resubmit and rewrite, take it seriously and feel lucky that you got that far. Magazine and book publishers always have limited spots are there are always other good works on their way so don’t take any feedback for granted.

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Some of These Things Aren’t Like the Other

The English language is a crazy language. We don’t spell some words the way we pronounce them and we don’t pronounce others the way they’re spelled. On top of that we have words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently. These are called homophones, such as pair, pare, pear, or weigh and way. There are quite a few of these to confuse a poor soul. Some of them are listed here: CrazySquirrel.com

But there are words that are not homophones, which people treat as though they are. In other words, people get confused when writing and use the wrong word. Here is a short list of some of the common words which actually are not pronounced the same yet are often confused.

  • Rational vs Rationale: Rational (rashunull) is what I hope you are, a rational intelligent sponge. Rationale (rashunal emphasis on the last syllable) is what I hope a rational human being can deliver. If you have a rationale for your decision to make turnip houses, it means you have a reason, principles or belief that these work better than bricks.
  • Averse vs Adverse: Averse means unwilling, reluctant or opposed to, as in having an aversion to something. I’m averse to eating larva. Adverse means unfavorable or acting against, the humidity and acid lakes in the lizard world caused adverse conditions for humans. These words are much more similar and easily confused.
  • Lightening vs Lightning: Lightening (3 syllables) means to remove darkness from something, as in the sky was lightening as the thousand alien ships tore away after harvesting Earth’s cows. Lightning is that bright jagged light that forks out of the sky after a storm. The lightning illuminated the sky and the 30-foot giant coming over the horizon.
  • Yeah vs Ya: Yeah is also spelled “yah”. It means affirmative or yes, as in, yeah that was some crazy lizard dance you just did. Yay is a form of cheering, as in yay we have slipped the yoke of servitude and will never succumb to human power again. Yay is like hooray and pronounced how it looks. This one people seem to mix up a lot, say “yeah me” when they often mean “yay me.”

That’s it for the non-homophone words that people mix up. There are of course others but until the aliens release their hold on my mind or your vocabulary, the rest will need to wait until later. From the mothership, have a grammatically fun day.

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