I’m excited about doing this unit! Entitled “Writing, Editing and Publishing”, this unit is my ‘well intentioned’ unit. The one I hope to sink my teeth into. This is a technical unit that is designed to teach you to be a proof-reader. I think I’m going to really enjoy it!
We started by reading some very basic information, and watching a welcome video. Then I threw myself into the first few lectures.
Colons and Semi-Colons: Use semi-colons sparingly. If they can be replaced with a comma, do so. Semi-colons are best used in a list or when breaking two related clauses for effect. Colons are a stronger form of punctuation and can be used for great effect but are mostly used for lists.
Comma Splices: These are a big no-no and are, apparently, very common. Writers use them to join two fragmented clauses together to form a sentence and are very incorrect. “It is election day, we are supposed to vote.” To correct this, either change the comma to a semi-colon or insert the word and after the comma. Frankly, I didn’t know what comma splices were… I just knew they were wrong.
Commas in Pairs: Commas, when surrounding an unessential clause like this one, must always be used in pairs. It is the equivalent of placing a clause in brackets and therefore must have commas on each side of it, just like you do with bracket use. If you can lift a clause from a sentence without it disrupting the sentence, surround the clause in commas.
Grammar BlackSpots: I really learned a lot from this lecture. This was particularly noticeable with the lie vs lay and who vs whom conundrums.
You lay things like tables etc. You lie yourself down.
Who is the subject of the sentence, whom is the object of the sentence. eg: “The journalists who you met earlier…” (the journalists are the subject of the sentence) and “The journalists we met earlier, most of whom scored distinctions, …” (the distinctions is the object, not the subject).
Other interesting tidbits: which vs that. Which is used when dealing with an extraneous clause that if removed does not alter the sense of the sentence. That is used when it is part of an essential clause of the sentence. Which is most commonly used close to or preceding a comma.
Finally was the reading from the textbook, which thankfully the university provided, as I’m still waiting for mine.
The chapter was about the publishing process. After a brief history and glorification of the book over digitised works, (as well as a good example of how the way we read and skim can have ramifications for proof-readers), we enterd the technological and commercial challenges.
“… apparently some people enjoy reading full-length novels on the tiny screen [iPhone]” – not that the text is being prejorative!!!! Methinks they wouldn’t approve of me reading a PDF version of their textbook!
“…because of the … ephemeral nature of newspapers, the standard of writing is often lower than in books.” – yep, books are the only thing worth reading obviously!
“Corporate editors … show initiative and work without rigid procedures or supervision. And, of course, they dress the part.” – Snort, giggle, snort!
Most useful, however, was this flowchart showing the typical production process for a trade book.
and this, the point of view from a freelance editor: