Why Copy Edit?

Copy editing will improve any manuscript. It improves the writing, it improves the writer’s own understanding of the structure of their book, and it makes it easier to publish the book. I know it is difficult to hand your masterpiece off to someone else and let them have their way with it. Before you go into a panic attack, there are a few things to point out.

A good editor will never just slash at your manuscript willy nilly. Certain changes for grammar, style and spelling may be automatic, but anything structural will be suggested first. Perhaps the editor will query you on a potential change or ask why you set it up in the order that it is in. These suggestions can not only tighten your writing, but improve the entire structure of your story.

What was that about making your story easier to publish? Well, like everyone else in this economy, publishers are being hit hard. They understand the reasoning for a high quality edit of every manuscript they set in print. But with costs being what they are, they may be more inclined to print a manuscript that has already had a lot of the editing done before they get it than one they need to spend a lot of time and money on to get it ready. In fact, many agents won’t even consider a book these days unless it is already polished and ready to go.

Yes, it’s true that writers can do editing themselves… to a point. You can go through it with a fine tooth comb and correct your spelling errors. However, and this is true of all writers, myself included, that after awhile, you just don’t see the errors. This is actually good if you’re a writer. You need to be so involved in your work that it becomes a part of you. But this is also why you need a fresh pair of eyes that are not attached to the material to really do a good edit for you.

So, you’ve decided to hand your manuscript off to Aunt Marge. She was a school librarian… she should be able to edit your book, right? Well, she may catch a few things, but professional editors are skilled in evaluating every sentence; every word. They know how to pay attention to detail as well as understand the structure of a book. They also understand how the publishing world works and how to help your book become more marketable. And finally, the best thing you get from a good editor is someone who can teach you. They won’t lecture you about how this, that and the other thing is all wrong; they will guide you and suggest how you can best improve your book.

Just remember that it is a collaboration. The editor is there to make you the best you can be; you will benefit as much as your book.

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Why Do I Edit?

I have been asked why I wanted to be an editor occasionally over the years. The truth is… I can’t help it. I unconsciously edit everything I read. My family will tell you my outrage when I find an error in a book we’ve purchased. I point out errors in signs, handouts and menus. I can’t help it. I’ve always been this way.

I’m nice enough not to point out these errors to the parties involved, but it irks me to no end. When I was in high school, I used to correct the handouts I got from my creative writing teacher and hand them back to him. When I graduated, I gave him a special gift: his own personal spelling dictionary. LOL

So, how could I be anything else than an editor? Yes, I write. Yes, I draw and paint. But deepest down, in my heart of hearts, I am an editor.

So, take the opportunity to have me in your corner. I am happy to work on your manuscripts and get them ship shape.

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Peek, Peak & Pique

Have you ever had your curiosity piqued? Have you climbed a peak? Have you taken a peek at something new? Yes, these three words sound alike, but they are totally different.

Pique

Pique is a French word that means “prick” or “stimulate.” Your curiosity can be piqued, but not peaked. So can your interest. Pique can also mean resentment or annoyance.

The new book piqued my interest.

The model had a fit of pique when they didn’t have her favorite snack.

Peak

A peak is the top of something; the peak of a mountain, the peak of a career, the peak of an experience.

The mountain peaks looked rosy in the sunset.

Peek

We’ve all taken a peek at something. It is a quick, furtive look where we hope we won’t get caught, usually.

It was difficult not to peek in the oven at the souffle.

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Are, Our, Hour

Do you know anyone who mixes these words up when they write? They usually know what they want to say, but when it comes to writing it down, many people find it easy to mix up are, our and hour.

Are & Our

Lots of people pronounce our like are when they talk, so when they write, they don’t think about it. In order to have our written words taken seriously, however, you need to know the difference.

Our & Hour

For those people who pronounce these two words alike, spelling can also interfere when they write.

Are

Are is a plural verb or helping verb.

The flowers are in full bloom.

Our

Our is a possessive pronoun.

Our house is blue and white.

Hour

Hour refers to a period of sixty minutes.

The hour passed slowly.

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Are We Allowed to Read Aloud?

This is a pair of words that I normally think are pretty self-explanatory… yet I continually see them misused. Allowed or Aloud? What do you think?

Allowed

Allowed means you have permission to do something.

The children are allowed to play with the dog.

Aloud

Aloud means something can be heard.

She spoke aloud without realizing it.

Simple, right? Right! :)

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To, Too & Two

Ah, the beauty of the English language. Here we are with three different words that sound exactly the same. People mix them up all the time. Well, most of them.

To, too and two all sound alike, yet mean completely different things. Technically, they are homophones. They sound alike, it’s true. They are not the same thing, however.

Two

To be fair, two isn’t mixed up with the others as often as the other two are. Everyone knows two is a number, right?

There were two horses grazing in the field.

To

You would think everyone would remember this one. It is on all those To and From tags we use on gifts at the holidays.

To is a preposition that precedes a noun.

I handed the book to Lori.

She was taking a trip to England.

To is also an infinitive that precedes a verb.

We went to eat at a four star restaurant.

They went outside to play.

Hmmm. Is it a coincidence that to has two uses?

Too

Too is often used as a synonym for also.

Shelly wanted to go, too.

Macaroni and cheese is my favorite, too.

Surprisingly, too also has a second usage. When it precedes an adverb or adjective, too can mean excessively.

The car was traveling too fast.

The kids ate too many cookies.

So, maybe it isn’t a coincidence that both to and too have two ways to use them.

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Breathe In and Take a Deep Breath

Did you know there is a difference between the words breathe and breath? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone write something like “She took a deep breathe.”

Let’s take a look at this. Yes, they both use ea in the words, which can give a long ee sound. However, ea can also give a short e sound like in the word death.

In fact, let’s use that as a mnemonic. If you don’t take a breath, death may come to call. They rhyme, so it will be easier to remember to use the word breath when you need to.

After taking a deep breath, she began to relax.

Now, if you need to use the word breathe, you do need the extra e on the end.

Breathe deeply of the salty air.

Got it? :)

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Breaching the Breech

These two words are often confused with one another. Since I know a lot of people in the childbirth field, I see these words a lot. Not even all the birth people use them correctly, which surprises me a bit.

Breach

A breach is a gap in something or a violation of something. To breach something is to break, break through or break open something.

They were in breach of contract.

The enemy attempted to breach the castle walls.

Breech

A breech is the back or lower end of something.

The baby was breech; the midwife could see his bottom emerging first.

Yes, there is only one letter difference between these two words, but as you can see, they mean completely different things. Granted, you could use breach in reference to birth, but it certainly wouldn’t mean the same thing as a baby being born bottom first.

The obstetrician created a breach in the mother’s belly when he performed the cesarean.

Make sense?

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Affect and Effect

Affect and effect are often mixed up. With only one letter difference, it can be confusing. However, if you remember that affect with an a is a verb and effect with an e is a noun, it helps immensely.

Affect means “to influence,” so if you ask yourself when writing if this is the meaning you want, you’ll probably use the proper word.

The book affected me deeply.

Effect is like a result. If this meaning fits what you’re writing, use the e.

The effect was dazzling.

Rare Exceptions

Of course, like most things, there are exceptions to this rule.

If you are using affect in regards to psychology, you can use it as a noun. It is often used in this way to describe a mood in psychological terms.

Her face reflected a sad affect.

Likewise, effect can be used as a verb in special cases when you want to “bring about” something.

The mothers hoped the nurse-in would effect the change they wanted.

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Assume and As Soon

How many times have you heard these two mixed up? A lot of people use assume instead of as soon. In reality, this is a totally different phrase that needs to be used appropriately.

Which would you use?

I’d assume eat cardboard than go to another of those boring meetings.

I’d as soon eat cardboard than go to another of those boring meetings.

If you chose the second one, congratulations! If you chose the first one, we need to talk.

Assume means you are making an assumption or educated guess. And, everyone knows the old saying about assume, right? When you assume you make an ass out of u and me. Eeek! Early chat speak!

The correct way to use assume is the following sentence.

I assume that you will be bringing snacks to the meeting.

Anyway, using the words as soon is like using rather.

I’d rather die than go through that again.

I’d as soon die before I go through that again.

Get it? :)

Thanks to Joy for suggesting this word mix up.

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