Copy Edits Plus…

I recently sent my book off to a very experienced and qualified friend to do some copyediting for me. She did a fantastic job, and I have a lot of tedious work ahead of me. However, she also saw fit to comment on, and ask questions about, a good amount of content. Now, I don’t mind answering questions, but I didn’t really feel she was asking in order to learn something. She was asking because she thought I might be wrong about something. At least, that’s how it felt. Of course I’m not discounting the fact that I could just be overly sensitive.

Now, I write in a very specific time period. The Regency era was short and had a great deal of its own terminology. It would be like someone writing a 1980s novel 200 years from now. They might not be familiar with terms like “Radical!” or “Narly, dude!” However, someone who read in the genre would know these things, and if the author put in explanations of terms, words, etc…, that reader would feel like they were info-dumping all over the place.

I suppose I take it for granted, since I’ve been reading Regency for so long, that not everyone knows the terminology. But at the same time, when I started reading the genre, I read it in front of a dictionary or encyclopedia. I had to. I loved the stories; I just didn’t know all the words. Did I ever fault the author for not explaining what the ton was or why the heroine carried a reticule instead of a purse? Of course not! I saw it as an opportunity to learn something I hadn’t known before.

I do get frustrated when typically non-Regency readers ask me questions like this. I want to say, “Don’t you know how to type in www.dictionary.com?” But maybe I’m the odd one and maybe I’m being too hard on people.

What do you think? Am I the odd man out, or do you share my frustration? Do you take the initiative when you come across a word or term you don’t know and look it up? Or do you ignore it and move on?

Jerrica Knight-Catania is the author of A Gentleman Never Tells, soon to be published by Second Wind Publishing!

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Copy Edits Plus…

  1. Context can be helpful. I read a lot of British and Irish crime ficiton, and I was well into my first English volume before I realized what a “grass” is. (In American, it’s a snitch.) It was never explained, but in time I figured it out. I’d think a reader interested in your stories, given their quite specific historical time frame, would respond much like I did, to try to figure it out. I’d throw them a lifeline for some of the harder words, but not dumb down just to accommodate an 8th-grade reading level, because that person isn’t likely to read your book, anyway.

    Worst case scenario? Include a glossary.

  2. I love the glossary idea, Dana…maybe I should have one to give to friends and family who don’t read in the genre. That would be a fun project! That reminds me of the Jane Austen mystery series, too. There are footnotes at the bottom of every page. Kind of neat.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    • When I read mystery novels by British authors I often have to look up words in the dictionary. These aren’t words that are local to Britain, they’re just very good words that aren’t used in our vocabulary much. Or perhaps the British have bigger vocabularies than we do.
      I think, perhaps, in times like the Regency, where letter writing was so prevalent, the “average” literate person might have had a good set of words.
      It would be sad to have to include a glossary. If readers are that lazy they might not even use the glossary!

  3. Great points, Mickey! It’s too bad people don’t have the desire to expand their vocabulary. Oh, well…c’est la vie, I suppose :)

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. christinehusom

    The glossary is a cool idea, but I think most people figure out what words mean when they read them in context. It seems your friend was being a bit picky. A lot of sentence structure in Minnesota was developed because of the way the Scandinavians translated their language. If I say, “You coming with?” someone from another region will say, “with what?” Or, “So what are you going to do about it now, then?” People probably wonder why we insert those extra words. No good reason ;)

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