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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Emotional Punctuation

I used to think that punctuation was THE most boring part of writing. A comma? Who cared. A period? The difference was? Of course, then I put out three books with a punctuation glitch, and suddenly, punctuation was no longer boring. Suddenly it was a big, scaly, venomous monkey on my back who kept stuffing poo down my shirt.

Fucking punctuation!

I got some help with that monkey--some of you (Goddess bless you) jumped on that fucker, gave him a bath, taught him some manners, and while he still rode me, he'd stopped stuffing poo down my shirt, and I was profoundly grateful. (I still am, and I'll still need your help, btw, when I'm done with the sixth Jack and Teague, so I can edit the whole shebang and maybe get that puppy out in the fall.)

And I thought that was it. The monkey sits on my back, chatters, stops flinging poo, and, hey! Life is good!

Well, I got a request to do a second edit on Truth in the Dark last night, and it suddenly dawned on me.

It's not enough that the monkey stop flinging poo! I need to put a collar on that fucker and make him my bitch! Imagine my surprise!

See, the thing was, I had too many EM dashes. Now, you may scoff at that--I'm sure I did. (I know that at some point in time, I scoffed at the idea that you could have too many EM dashes. I don't remember it now that this second monkey arrived in my inbox, but I know that there was.) I mean, my dialog is punctuated correctly, right? Isn't that a step up? No comma splice errors--or at least they've been minimized, right? I mean, with the exception of some eccentric dialog and sentence constructions that were probably a CMS nightmare but that I ain't changin', I'm pretty sure that as long as it's TECHNICALLY correct, simply using a punctuation mark when it's out of fashion isn't going to get me a big ol' smackdown come review time, is it?

And this is when I realized how crafty an editor has to be. Because mine sure has it down.

First, she massaged my tight ego: "All of those EM dashes break up your lovely flowing text so badly."

Oh. Really? My text is lovely? Well, you know. If my text is purty, well, maybe I could take care of some of those EM dashes for you. I mean, you know. It ain't no big. EM dash? I don't need no stinkin' EM dash. I'll take off some of the rough edges if I've got purty prose, wouldn't anyone?

Second, she uses an editing program with a visual. Sure enough, this second go-round she'd highlighted every EM dash on the page.

I think my record thus far has been twelve.

Fucking monkey. That asshole's been saving poo in his back pockets, and I think he just took another dump on my head.

*sniffle* Excuse me, y'all. *whimper* I gotta go put a collar on that fucker and make him my bitch! *whine*

ONCE MORE INTO THE EDIT, DEAR FRIENDS, AND FILL THE MARGINS WITH YOUR EM DASH DEAD!

5 comments:

Chris said...

Great, next your editor's going to go after the lovely and innocent ellipses...

Louiz said...

The images in my head that post conjured up! Now I need to wash the *inside* of my head... (poo flinging monkeys do make a mess

KnitTech said...

On the plus side, you can just do a ctrl F and deleted them all. Oh wait, you'll most likely want some...

Roxie said...

Monkey poo down the shirt? I bet there are people who would pay good money for that experience!

Get that monkey on the leash and pimp him out to the kinkos.

DecRaink said...

Chris -- the ellipses! I love those things........ lol

See? they have their purposes. . .

No worries Amy, your writing rocks anyway. Just make sure that monkey knows who is who.