Podcast Ep. #7: The Copy Edit

Admittedly, copy editing is a bit of a boring topic for a podcast. However, I did want to give you a few tips that have made checking for typos and grammar/punctuation errors a little easier for me.

I highly recommend for this round of edits to either change your project to a different font or move it to a different program. So, for example, when I write fanfic, I usually do this round of edits after I upload my document to the fanfic site (but, obviously, before I post it). This gives my chapter to me in a different font and layout, so it helps it look fresh to me even though I’ve looked at it a dozen times at that point. Another thing to remember if you are going to publish something in a different program than the one you were writing it in is that sometimes when you copy/paste things into a new word processor or even when you upload a document and it gives you the document in a different format, that may change how your paragraphs look. So if you write something in Microsoft Word, but you are planning on uploading it to your WordPress blog, after you copy/paste from Word, you will want to make sure your paragraph breaks are where they are supposed to be. Sometimes if you have italics or bolded words in your document, a website might spit them out as plain text. For this reason, if I know for sure that I will be publishing my work in a different place than where I was writing it, I will do my final copy edit inside the program where I’m actually going to publish the thing. I use Reedsy to format my original fiction, so I do my copy edit inside Reedsy’s book editor to make sure that everything is still appearing the way that it did in my Word document.

A few last pieces of advice about copy editing—the ‘word finder’ or ‘search’ function is your friend. When it comes to words that could be capitalized or not capitalized or words that could be spelled one of two ways, etc., it never hurts to search up the word when you finish your project and just make sure that you consistently presented it the same way each time you used it. In fiction writing, a lot of traditional copy editing rules are routinely broken, but if you are knowingly breaking a rule, make sure you know why you are doing that. For example, I write incomplete sentences sometimes, but I know that it’s because I want a group of sentences to flow a certain way. I want to break up the normal rhythm of the paragraph. If you’re breaking a rule for a purpose, that’s one thing. But if you’re breaking a rule because you just didn’t take the time to read back over your work, that’s another. And I think it’s fairly obvious to the reader which of those scenarios occurred.

If you’re not someone who’s eye is naturally trained to see errors in your writing, or maybe you just haven’t practiced enough, there are so many good resources and programs out there now for grammar-checking your work. I promise you putting that final bit of effort into presenting your work in a polished way will make it easier for people to read, and it will also signal to them how much time and care you put into the project. In other words, your work will look professional. I can tell you right now that I read a lot of stories on the internet, and the number one that distracts me while I’m reading a story and makes me feel like it’s not worth the investment of my time is when I click into a story that has a bunch of typos and grammar/punctuation errors where clearly someone did not do even the most basic copy editing pass over it. It makes the story appear sloppily put together, and it makes the writer appear lazy, and if the writer is lazy about capitalizing a person’s name, why would I have faith that they put time and effort into crafting a decent storyline? Now obviously I can’t know what was going through that writer’s head—people get busy; people write things on their phones; people use autocorrect. But as a reader, the presentation does not make me want to read further.

Your copy edit is part of your story presentation, so even if you think this doesn’t really have anything to do with the story, it kinda does because it will affect your reader’s ability to fully immerse themselves into your work; it might even affect whether they read your work or not. And especially if you want anything of yours to get traditionally published, you will want to have your manuscript looking as polished as it can possibly get before you send it to an editor or agent.

So, on a final note, do read over your work in its final resting place; take that extra step to make it appear like a finished product; your readers will thank you, and you will be so glad when you never have to touch it again.

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About Me

JodiMarie Meyer enjoys toeing the line between the mundane and the magical and exploring the dichotomies of good and evil; she primarily writes love stories, but not always. Definitely someone who got in trouble for daydreaming in class. Definitely someone who scribbles frantic story notes while stirring pasta. She makes her home in the Maryland countryside with her husband, dog, and rabbit. She is the author of one short story collection: magic/madness. Currently, she is writing her debut novel, Luc & Lila.