Writing Glitch #362

Today’s glitch:


Oh, joy — another comma splice.

Change the comma after minds to a period and begin a new sentence (yes, with a capitalized first word and everything) afterward.

Use an apostrophe with a possessive: partner’s, not partners.

Overnight, everyone on Earth gains the ability to read minds. You are horrified to discover the trauma running through your partner’s thoughts.

(I’ve assumed the POV character here has only one partner, but if that’s not the case, just place the apostrophe after the s instead of before it. Also, I’d like to point out that one need not have the ability to read thoughts in order to read emotions. Telepathy and empathy, although related, are not the same thing. Not that I’d know, of course… :-P)

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I can haz free time?

Well, the first round of copyediting on Operation Breakout is finished… except for the last few chapters. Long story. Why the last few chapters weren’t sent with the rest of the manuscript, I mean. The novel is about ninety thousand words (not including the last few chapters). The developmental editor informed me that the last bit, six chapters and maybe an epilogue, will be arriving via email later today. 

So what did I do to relax after another day of correcting punctuation, rearranging word order, and making sure any made-up foreign words (and one French fencing term — I did tell the developmental editor, Corey-the-human, not to argue with me on this, because the other Corey will back me up… Or rather, his story will. I never discuss anything writing-related with the other Corey — it makes him uncomfortable) are italicized properly? I started the second and final pass of copyediting on Project Brimstone. 🙂

Brimstone, which is about seventy-five thousand words, doesn’t have an official release date yet, but it’ll be out this spring. (I know the release date; I’m just not allowed to tell anyone yet.) The author wants to have everything set up for pre-orders before any announcements are made.


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Writing Glitch #361

Today’s glitch:


I see no way to save this one without changing much of it.

Never write an unique. The ‘an with vowels and a with consonants’ rule applies only to vowels that are pronounced as vowels: you’d say an umbrella, but you’d say a unique umbrella.

I doubt the writer meant to say the character literally becomes the person whose clothes they wear. If the writer did mean that, the writer needs to think about it more until they realize this is nonsense. (Even if you have someone else’s appearance, personality, memories, etc., you’re not that person. You could have their exact genetic code, too, and still not be them.)

You have a unique ability. When wearing someone else’s clothes, you mimic that person’s appearance and personality perfectly. You collect personas by buying clothes in secondhand shops, but up until now, it was just a game for you. Then you find something very special.

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Writing Glitch #360

Today’s glitch:


This glitch is a good one to show when to put end punctuation inside the double quotes and when to put it outside.

What do you mean, “I can’t believe you read the whole book already!”? What are you supposed to do once it’s open?

Notice that the exclamation point goes inside the quotes, but the question mark goes outside. That’s because the exclamation is what’s being quoted by the speaker, but the question is how/why they’re repeating it (asking what the exclamation means).

Under most circumstances, the use of both a question mark and an exclamation point on the same sentence is discouraged. If you need to indicate that a question is asked with particularly strong feeling or emphasis, italicize it.

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Writing Glitch #359

Today’s glitch:


When referring to a word itself, italicize it. Double quotations are an acceptable option only when italics aren’t available.

To the poor, handmade is a necessity.

To the wealthy, handmade is a luxury.

(As I’ve said before, I don’t make up these examples. On the other hand, sometimes there’s one worth thinking about for its content and not just for its glitches. So here’s a nothing-about-grammar mini-rant: To many people in the middle class, handmade is both something to be sneered at and avoided and something to try to acquire for next to nothing because they desire it so badly but don’t want to pay for the time and skills of the person who made it. This, I feel, is wrong. If you want more rant on this topic, here’s a link to a post I wrote, back in 2013, about “artists/craftspeople and the value of work.”)

(WordPress wants me to change craftspeople to tradespeople. Um… No. Different words, different meanings. And — micro-tirade directed at someone else — if I’d meant housekeeping, I’d have said that instead of homesteading, dammit. *shakes head*)

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Sometimes, he repurposes a quote from a sapient egg.

One of the things that makes me so good (and modest about it, too!) at editing science fiction/fantasy is that I have a brain full of “trivia” which often turns out to be useful and relevant to whatever I’m editing. (Maybe I shouldn’t have given the author a min-lecture on the difference between garb and garbs… *shrug*) On the other hand, sometimes authors don’t want their scene or plot “ruined” by pesky facts.

The original quote I’ve “repurposed”? It’s from Sign of Chaos, by Roger Zelazny.

The picture below is of an embroidered thing Grace made for me to place on the shelf over my desk. It isn’t over my desk because my cats kept trying to eat it. She wanted to put a silhouette of a Bandersnatch on it (it was the sudden appearance of a Bandersnatch — a frumious Bandersnatch, as Humpty Dumpty made certain to point out — that prompted the egg’s comment about remedying zoological ignorance), but there is no official image of that critter, so she just used some generic medieval beastie instead. At least the generic beastie has a long neck and snapping jaws like a Bandersnatch.  The sword, obviously, is the vorpal sword, which, according to the Cheshire Cat, costs twenty dollars per hour or portion thereof to rent. That was the price back in the late eighties/early nineties, anyway — it’s probably gone up since then.

I should have added meteorological to the list, too. Not that anyone cares, but extremely thin air can’t carry enough debris or move with sufficient force to be a real danger that way.

Sometimes authors (and other people) ask me, “Why do you know that?” after I’ve shared some interesting (to me, anyway) factoid. Why do I know that obsidian is sharper by far than any steel (although sharp should not ever be mistaken for strong), or that vanilla and nutmeg are both neurotoxins? (Mmmm… eggnog. Oh, sorry, HD.) I don’t have an answer for that, really. The information, it just sticks in my brain. (And — sorry, must use quote — “Information overload equals pattern recognition.” *weird grin* If you choose to capitalize Pattern — ’cause maybe you read some of the same fiction I do — I’ll tell you that I could tell the difference between ’em. Yeah. ‘Cause the new one is even more off-center than the original. And the real original, which doesn’t have half a mountain and a castle on top of it. And the first one, which is three-dimensional and inside a forty-carat ruby, so it’s easy to recognize. All that fan art that makes those Patterns look downright geometric in their regularity? Wrong…)

Now that I’ve allowed the, um, less orderly side of my brain have its say, I’m once more picking up the Red Pen of Doom (DOOM, I tell you!) to correct a few, um, haphazard comma splices or missing apostrophes.

Oh, yeah — I have acquired a new title. I am now Thomas Weaver, Mercenary Proofreader and Defender of Words. 🙂

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Updates: the ‘my brain hurts — give me coffee!’ edition

I’m now just slightly more than halfway through the first round of copyediting J. R. Handley’s military sci-fi novel Operation Breakout, so it won’t be finished by tea time. Sorry… 🙂 At least there’s a shiny new novelette in the same setting to read while you wait.

My clone’s latest novel, Project Brimstone, needs only one more light pass of proofreading (he made a few minor changes, so I should check for comma splices) before being ready for publication. We don’t have an official release date yet, but you, O Readers of my blog, will be among the first to know. Maybe I can at least show you the cover art sometime in the next week.

My brain hurts, but I shouldn’t be wanting coffee, since the character who’s the cause (or at least the source) of my psychological coffee habit is currently in coldsleep. (Seems to be a lot of that going around these days. 🙂 ) He’s also on his way to another stellar system. “You shut up — you’re not here!” applies more than ever.

Actually, the most likely reason for my brain hurting (yes, I know it’s sinuses, not brain) is the weather we’ve been having. I’m sensitive to changes in air pressure, and the air pressure has been… I think wonky is the scientific term for it. 🙂 Spring is dust-storm season here, and the wind has been going practically nonstop for days now, rattling the windows and booming against the roof. The cats are taking it well — they’re used to it — although they do sometimes use the weather as an excuse to act crazy: “Look at me! I’ve got static in my fur! See me race around the house for no reason! See me kill this boot lace! See me… Wait, what was I doing?”

I’ve noticed a tendency for many of my “Writing Glitch” posts to contain snark directed at WordPress’ built-in spelling and grammar checker. This would happen far less often, I think, if the program were less stupid. There are people relying on that program to tell them when they’re misspelled a word or when they’ve used a word incorrectly. There are probably authors relying on that program or one much like it to edit/proofread their stories for them, thinking a computer program is more reliable than a human, since humans can make mistakes. (Please, no ‘But you’re a cyborg, not a human!’ jokes from the audience. I have no idea where JR got the idea I’m a cyborg — I told him tracking implants don’t count… and also, that’s a joke, friends — but even if I were, it would have nothing to do with my uncanny skills with the written word. 🙂 )

Speaking of WordPress and its idiot spell checker… It wants me to change him to hymn, as in, “I told hymn tracking implants don’t count…” Except where I  just typed this complaint, it wants hymn changed to him. Now my brain hurts even more. I’m gonna go edit sci-fi and pretend I didn’t see that.




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