Less stressful copy editing

March 12, 2009
By

jacket imagePerhaps you can remember those halcyon days when the rules of style and grammar ingrained in us by our school teachers offered a reliable framework for writing, and a concrete set of rules to follow when approaching the work of others. But if you can remember that far back, you can also remember how that sense of order and justice was inevitably crushed as one ventured into the grammatical complexities and gray areas of reality. Navigating the diverse and dynamic world of the English language has presented many a writer with a difficult challenge.
The copy editor is the writer’s guide through the pitfalls and minefields of language. Among the best of these is Carol Fisher Saller, who’s tough yet tolerant approach—both in her career as senior manuscript editor at the press and as the wit behind the Chicago Style Q&A—has improved writers and editors alike. Now, with The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself), Saller offers her guidance and knowledge in book form, tailored to all those frazzled wordsmiths in need of more than just a guide to grammar, but a guide to a life working with words (minus the nervous breakdown). A recent article in Timeout Chicago quotes Saller as she explains her approach: “”I wanted to subvert the idea that editors and writers have to be locked in battle rather than serving the reader.…’ Authors often have good reasons for making exceptions, she says, and whatever best communicates to the reader, wins.”
With an emphasis on negotiation and flexibility that will surprise those who have absorbed the dos and don’ts of their stylebooks, Saller’s The Subversive Copy Editor offers a rare peace of mind in the midst of the too often contentious world of the copy editor.
John A. McIntyre, writer for the Baltimore Sun, also discusses Saller’s book on his blog, You Don’t Say.
Read the introduction to the book on the Press website; Saller has her own website for the book, too.

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