I am a big picture person, not a detail-oriented one. I spell well and have a strong grasp of grammar, so I don't generally spend a lot of time looking up rules while writing. Rules are the wrong side of the brain for creativity. I check for errors in final drafts and have an editor who is a stickler for rules, so my manuscripts are generally clean when submitted to a copyeditor.
That could be the problem. My copyeditors get as bored as I do going over 400 clean pages with nothing to do. So they invent new rules, and I spend my time jerking reference books off the shelves and shouting at anyone who will listen about the dunderheads who just won't see things the way I do.
Today's temper tantrum is over compound adjectives. (don't even get me started on compound words!) There are dozens of rules guiding the use of hyphens and one of them is to hyphenate between two adjectives that form a single idea: first-class, one-man, four-year-old. It's pretty easy to find these by looking at each word and setting it up against the noun it modifies: first-class project has a different meaning as first project or class project, so the two words have to stay together.
It gets trickier when one of the words is actually an adverb describing the adjective that is describing the noun--but it's NOT a single idea. Just writing that gives me a headache. Brightly lit room isn't hyphenated because brightly describes lit, not room, but it doesn't form a single idea either. More important project isn't hyphenated for the same reason (despite my CE's good intentions). But it's sometimes hard to tell if a word is an adverb, especially if it doesn't have an -ly ending, and it's hard to tell if the compound is a single idea (first does describe class after all).
So my vote is to shoot hyphens. Let's just stomp them out, rub them into the ground, grind them into mincemeat, and save everyone a headache. Or does anyone out there have a better way of making this insane rule work so I don't have to STET my manuscripts into oblivion and wear out the pages of my grammar books?
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Audio aids in historic sites make for bad photo opportunities. I spent the holidays in southern California with family. This is the mission at San Juan Capistrano. Admire the lovely sunshine, the mission bells, and the lack of ear muffs and fur!
I do not usually make new year resolutions because I inevitably break them, but because I have so many fun projects starting this year, I'm trying to do better at internet promotion.
So, knock wood, I'll be stopping by here weekly to whine, cheer, and let everyone know what's going on out here in the mad, mad world of publishing. And please, stop by any time to leave notes, questions, or complaints in return. All messages go directly to my emailbox and I try to respond. Providing I'm not banging my head against a desk...