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Editor's Pet Peeves
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Author:  Lee Moan [ Sun Mar 25, 2007 6:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Editor's Pet Peeves

This from the guidelines at Shimmer magazine:

Quote:
No matter what, do not use “alright.” It’s “all right.” Two words. Beth, our editor-in-chief, stops reading instantly when she sees “alright.”

You have been warned.


And this from Wendy Bradley at Farthing:

Quote:
We urge you to check your stories for "atop" and "padded" and other words she counsels you against before submission. The only one she has missed out is "prolly" (for "probably"). Use of the word "prolly" in Farthing is banned by order of the editor, who says she has "a bit of a Thing" about it.


Do any of the Interzone team have similar pet peeves? Thought it might be interesting and helpful to know.

Author:  friendlygun [ Sun Mar 25, 2007 6:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

Whilst "prolly" isn't a word and should be avoided unless in dialogue, and there's a case for not using "alright" (despite it being a corruption with over a century of widespread use), I can't for the life of me think why "atop" and "padded" should be specifically avoided. "Atop" is a bit corny, sure, but is there more to it than personal preference? There are some words I don't like but I wouldn't suggest people not use them.

Author:  TimAkers [ Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:12 pm ]
Post subject: 

I think most of those are americanizations, though prolly...I've never seen it used except in dialogue. I have no idea what's wrong with padded. I'm glad Andy agreed to keep the american spellings in my stories, btw. British stories that get published in the US maintain their "grey" and "realise." Sometimes a gun just needs to be matte black, ne?

Author:  Hoing [ Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Editor's pet peeves

I recently wrote, and sold, a literary piece that used both "prolly" and "alright" in the narrative. It also dropped the g's at the ends of words without usin an apostrophe or nothin. Although the narrative was not written as dialogue, as in "dialogue," the narrator was telling the story in his dialect, as if he were speaking aloud. I not only spelled the words as he would pronounce them, in the case of "alright," I spelled it as he would spell it.

I think it's a mistake for editors to set down hard-and-fast "thou-shalt-not" rules like those mentioned above. "Alright" is not always wrong. It's only wrong if the writer doesn't know any better; but if s/he is obviously using it on purpose for a certain effect, that's quite another thing. Professional editors should be able to tell the difference between the writers who know what they're doing and those who don't. Such preconceived notions as noted in the above posts might cause them to turn away a truly fine story.

So, the bottom line is that, as always, it comes down to the story itself. The voice of the narrative does not only manifest itself in dialogue. This is particularly true in first-person and limited third-person narrators. If your narrator is a high school dropout who neither knows nor cares about grammar or usage, it doesn't make sense for him/her to tell his story as if he were an Oxford-educated professor. Similarly, one wouldn't expect that Oxford professor to speak in American ghetto slang.

It's the writer's job to determine the voice of the narrator--and s/he MUST be allowed to make whatever choice is appropriate to the story. The editor's job is to decide if that narrator, with that voice, in that situation, works. But for an editor to make a blanket "you-shall-never-do-this" statement before even reading the piece is a disservice to the writer, the editor, and the potential audience.

Author:  Tony [ Mon Mar 26, 2007 12:34 am ]
Post subject: 

TimAkers wrote:
British stories that get published in the US maintain their "grey" and "realise."


I'm surprised to hear that... but then, admittedly, I don't read a lot of American magazines. It doesn't seem to be the case with US book publishers, who Americanise spellings across the board, whether the words are used in dialogue, or not.

In fact, many British publishers have a tendency to Americanise English words, even when they're publishing UK authors.

I know this is a very old debate... :roll: but I always find cases of US-biased editing annoying.

Author:  Paul Raven [ Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:08 am ]
Post subject: 

Tony wrote:
TimAkers wrote:
British stories that get published in the US maintain their "grey" and "realise."


I'm surprised to hear that... but then, admittedly, I don't read a lot of American magazines. It doesn't seem to be the case with US book publishers, who Americanise spellings across the board, whether the words are used in dialogue, or not.

In fact, many British publishers have a tendency to Americanise English words, even when they're publishing UK authors.

I know this is a very old debate... :roll: but I always find cases of US-biased editing annoying.


I'm new to the debate, but here's my tuppenny bit: it's a shame the lingo ever diverged so much, but ultimately publishing is a profit-orientated business, and more of the English reading world uses the American version thereof - hence Americanising is purely good business sense. Although personally I far prefer the way UK English works; double 'l's, and s rather than z wherever possible.

That having been said, I never realised 'alright' wasn't a legitimate word. Every day's a school day!

Author:  Jetse [ Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:13 am ]
Post subject: 

Quote:
Do any of the Interzone team have similar pet peeves? Thought it might be interesting and helpful to know.

Not really.

The reason that we do not put up any *do's* or *thou shalt nots* on our guidelines is exactly as Dave Hoing mentioned above: we do not wish to restrict a writer in that sense.

Just write the very best story you can, send it our way, and let us sort it out.

A writer should try to focus all her/his energy on the story itself, and not on umimportant issues like usage of certain words, or the avoidance of editorial pet peeves.

I also dislike long lists of topics or themes that are a hard sell, and other restrictive lists. For every 'rule' there is an exception, and I would hate to miss an exceptional story that was *not* sent in because the author felt it didn't comply to some arbitrary rule.

If you're desperate for rules, I'll give you two:

1) Use all your energy, inspiration, intelligence, and resources to write the very best story you can. The story you feel you *must* write, not one to meet a certain market's perceived needs. Write the one that is within you, screaming to get out.

2) After using all your energy in making that story shine (write, rewrite, have it critiqued, rewrite, polish and repeat until done), then look for the appropriate market. Try to read at least a sample issue of the market you're submitting to so that you have an idea of their sensibility. Nevertheless, if in doubt, send it in and let the editors sort it out.

Personally, I'd rather read one hundred stories too many in order to find the one that captivates me, rather than read ten too few and miss the extraordinary one.

Author:  friendlygun [ Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:21 am ]
Post subject: 

Even an erotic lesbian vampire zombie pirate coming-of-age allegory can be done well! ;D

Author:  Jetse [ Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:22 am ]
Post subject: 

Quote:
That having been said, I never realised 'alright' wasn't a legitimate word. Every day's a school day!


Here some wisdom from my Encarta Dictionary:

Is it all right to use alright ? It depends on your point of view. Some people think this one-word spelling is justified by the analogy of already and altogether, and that it is sometimes useful to be able to distinguish between all right and alright (just like altogether and all together ):
• The answers were alright (= satisfactory).
• The answers were all right (= all correct).

Though alright is generally considered nonstandard it is often used in informal writing.

Author:  StevePalmer [ Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:40 pm ]
Post subject: 

Whilst I can see that there is a difference beyween the two uses, I can't see what's wrong with using alright. As has been pointed out above, it has a history. If people used "correct" for "right" there wouldn't be a problem.

Aaaargh, English!

Author:  Jetse [ Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:41 pm ]
Post subject: 

In case this wasn´t abundantly clear already: at Interzone we will not reject a story for the (wrong) use of one single word. If a story has won us over, that one word is so easily corrected it's not worth worrying about.

As it is, our very diligent proofreader Pete Tennant picks up typos, spelling mistakes, wrong usages, and whatnot for every story that we publish. There's not a single story that we've published that did not have a few minor edits, and even then we're not 100% sure that it's faultless (grammatically speaking).

Minor edits, even rewrites happen to everyone, not just beginning writers. In Interzone #209 I worked on a very minor rewrite with Al Duncan for "The Whenever at the City's Heart", and Al Reynolds did a minor edit on "The Sledge-Maker's Daughter" after we talked about it on BeneluxCon (and which I didn't *want* to ask of him, but he changed it nevertheless).

In short: don't worry too much about details: if your story is strong enough we'll try to iron out the irregularities.

Author:  Pete [ Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:15 pm ]
Post subject: 

Jetse, that's Hal Duncan. Either that or your diligent proofreader let a very big error slide by in #209...

I remember when I was part of the editorial team I would always want to reject people who used 'lightening' when they meant 'lightning', but they would never indulge me.

Author:  Jetse [ Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:09 am ]
Post subject: 

Quote:
Jetse, that's Hal Duncan. Either that or your diligent proofreader let a very big error slide by in #209...


At last year's FantasyCon, I was told, in no unclear terms, by Neil Williamson, that "It's *Al*, Jetse, Al Duncan, not Hal." He refused to give me a beer before I took the point... :D

The story is -- as far as I can recall -- that Al Duncan (the chap who wrote Vellum and Ink) had a poem accepted for a poetry chapbook, way, way back. However, the editor already had a poem accepted from somebody else who was also called ' Al Duncan'. So Al decided to call himself *Hal* Duncan to differentiate between the two of them.

The other Al Duncan hasn't published a breakthrough novel yet -- at least not to my knowledge -- but Al Duncan (his first name is Alastair) has stuck with the 'Hal Duncan' moniker ever since.

So while all his fiction is published under the Hal Duncan byline -- which is how he wants it -- his real name is Al, and that's how I refer to him, otherwise Neil Williamson won't give me a beer at EasterCon...

:mrgreen:

Quote:
I remember when I was part of the editorial team I would always want to reject people who used 'lightening' when they meant 'lightning', but they would never indulge me.


But you can still correct it. And you could help D. with her slushreading for Whispers of Wickedness, which will give you back the power... :twisted:

Author:  NeilW [ Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:26 am ]
Post subject: 

Ah, Jetse, the niceties of the nom de plume. "Al's" only for beer time, I think for professional purposes "Hal" should be maintained, yes?

And of course I'll buy you beer at Eastercon, but Hal won't (as he ain't coming this year).

Author:  Pete [ Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:14 pm ]
Post subject: 

Yeah Jetse, and antagonise the proofreader at your peril.

IZ#210 will be edited by some guy called Jesse Deep Freeze (I usually correct this when Andy shows it, but from now on you take your chances :twisted: )

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