Tuesday, 20 October 2009

‘I demand a serial comma!’

I haven’t got hold of a copy yet, but this volume is certainly on my must-read list.

‘Each year readers submit over three thousand grammar and style questions to the Q&A page at The Chicago Manual of Style Online. Some are arcane, some simply hilarious – and one editor, Carol Fisher Saller, reads every single one. All too often she notes a classic author–editor standoff over the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ of prose styling: ‘This author is giving me a fit’. ‘I wish that I could just DEMAND the use of the serial comma’. ‘My author wants his preface at the end of the book. This seems ridiculous. I mean, it’s not a post-face’. In The Subversive Copy Editor, Saller suggests new strategies for keeping the peace. Emphasizing carefulness, transparency, and flexibility, she shows copy editors how to build trust and cooperation. One chapter takes on the difficult author; another speaks to writers directly. Throughout, the focus is on serving the reader, even if it means breaking ‘rules’ along the way.’

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