See the Light
…and I thought an edit was just an edit. But no, the experts break it down into logical and productive steps.
1. Rewrites, revisions and substantive edit: I guess, you’ call this the Big Picture.
(I’m particularly talented at this stage, IMHO.)
2. Line Edit: An engine check. Does it work? Does it flow? Is it logical? Is every action followed by a reaction? Is the POV consistent?
(I get a passable grade on this one, too.)
Have you ever had an argument with a word processor? Did you win? Did you lose? Never mind who was right and what inanimate object was wrong. Being right doesn’t make you a winner.
The greatest mistake writers make with a computer’s dictionary and grammar check is assuming the machine is always right and they are always wrong–including me. Most often this involves the spellchecker. The greatest mistake that I ever made was typing the word ‘nipple’ when I meant ‘nibble.’ Whop-Do-Whop! The computer did not disagree. Boy, was my face red.
As a writer, I am aware of and sympathetic to the paralyzing fear of making silly mistakes. I have been known to make them myself. If you catch me whelping out stupidity, please, please bonk me upside the head. It is far better to be embarrassed in practice, rather than to be humiliated in print.
As a reader and a human being I can’t help but laugh when I see these gaffes in publication. I give you now the smallest of errors that gave me the biggest of laughs. I found this gem in an online magazine:
…Sometimes I’d drive by the old house and yell. If the new yuppies (owners) were in the lawn I’d keep quiet. Their smiles got me. …
When I read these lines, I got a flash image of the new owners half buried in the lawn, with their smiling faces turned toward the sun. It reminded me of that old movie ‘Motel Hell.’ Of course, what made it even more humorous was the fact that it was a serious piece.
What’s the lesson here? Do the little words matter? The mistake was only one letter off, with a disastrous meaning. It got past the writer and the editor. Can one tiny preposition throw the whole piece into the trash can? Probably 99 out of 100 people would not notice. But, for me, if the mistake sparks memories of an old horror flick, I guess it can. Am I being pedantic? Maybe.
Just had to share. ;o BTW: I have read worse mistakes without laughing. Some are just hilarious.