On writing

Copy-editing is hard

Sherylyn spent the last two weeks copy-editing a partial manuscript. Partial, that is not even a full manuscript.

I spent some time helping her out. It was hard, hard work.

On a first reading everything looked good and there didn’t seem a lot to change. But then you re-read the manuscript, and re-read it again, and by the time you had finished the third read there were red pen marks all over the page. (That’s right, red pen. I always thought editors had blue pencils, but in our part of the world they have red pens. Very fine red pens—0.1mm—because you can write more.)

Then you re-read the manuscript again, and you found even more things to change.

This was a non-fiction piece. There was a lot of work checking facts and generally cleaning up the text. Sherylyn also had to cut 10% of the content and tone down some of the more sue-able quotes, all while trying to keep the author’s distinctive voice.

It was harder than I expected. I have a renewed respect for copy-editors and the work they do.

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