Grace's Mosaic Moments

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Copyediting Challenges - 7

Kids flying at Easter afternoon sack races, 2016*
* I made those burlap bags for a birthday party so long ago
 the sides came up to the kids' ears!

Quote of the Week:

According to the morning paper*, some people have been comparing Donald Trump to J. K. Rowling's Voldemort, the villain so terrible he is known as "He Who Must Not Be Named." When hearing this, Rowling responded: "How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad."

The same article goes on to quote House Speaker Paul Ryan in a marvelous contrast to Trump's demagoguery, saying in an address to interns of both political parties . . .

"Instead of playing to your anxieties, we can appeal to your aspirations. We don't resort to scaring you; we dare to inspire you. In a confident America, we aren't afraid to disagree with each other. We don't lock ourselves in an echo chamber, where we take comfort in the dogmas and opinions we already hold. We don't shut down on people—and we don't shut people down. If someone has a bad idea, we tell them why our idea is better. We don't insult them into agreeing with us. We try to persuade them."

*From an Op-ed by Clarence Page in The Orlando Sentinel, April 1, 2016

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Tricky, Tricky Italics

I often create my blogs from problems I've encountered while editing, whether in one of my own books or those I edit for other authors. This week the same problems cropped up in both, so it seemed like my blog topic was selected for me. 

Grace Note: The index of the 15th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style is not helpful! 
Except to give us an example of italics used (above) as a line header, to indicate the title of a book, and as emphasis. All uses of italics that present few problems.

The 15th edition index under "Italics" lists all the esoteric uses of italics that most writers never need and completely ignores the common, everyday italic questions for which we all need answers. I'm sure the answers are in there somewhere—ah-ah!—I just tried the index to the 14th edition and there they are!  Whoever wrote the index to the 15th edition needs to go back to indexing school.

Since I've dealt with the use of Italics in previous blogs, I'm going to concentrate this week on the most difficult. Do you, or do you not, use italics for thoughts

Truth is, it depends on the publisher, but very few are still advocating italics for thoughts. The general rule seems to be that introspection - what the scene's primary character is thinking - is written in standard type. But only if it remains in third person. And, as mentioned in my blog on tags, avoid using "he thought" or "she thought" unless absolutely necessary for the sense of the sentence. If at all possible, the introspection should flow well enough that using a tag is not necessary. 


Davenham was trying, Sarah knew he was. Under all that elegant sophistication was a man with a good heart. She would not have married him else. But it was all very lowering. Cutting a dash in a curricle of her own was a long-cherished wish, a notion difficult to give up, even though common sense, combined with a good stiff fright, dictated that she should. Yet what was the point in cutting a dash if one came a cropper in front of the cream of the ton, not to mention the doxies, Cits, and shabby genteels who also had access to Hyde Park’s fashionable late afternoon parade?

Quote from Steeplechase by Blair Bancroft
Example of italics used for emphasis, plus remaining introspection without italics:

Hell and the devil! It was her own fault. The colonel wasn’t a pauper. She didn’t have to be here. Did she? No woman should have to endure what she had these past weeks. It wasn’t right. And now she was one more problem to solve. Bloody, stupid army! If he were in charge at the Horse Guards…
Quote from Colonel Tarleton in Tarleton's Wife.

BUT if your character suddenly makes a statement in first person, italics must be used.  


Ben had to be kidding! No way am I doing that.

The same applies to statements in second person (you).


Because, you ninny, taunted her inner voice, your husband does not wish to be alone with you for all that time.

Quote from Steeplechase
And then there are the really tricky ones, such as the ones where italics simply make sense though you can't quite cite a rule. Direct thought, description of an action, emphasis—who knows? There are simply times when you have to make that subjective decision. Do I or don't I?


Her first thought—Davenham is going to have a fit— for if ever she had seen someone who could be termed a “shabby genteel mushroom,” it was the elder Twitchell. 

A peek toward the beast. An antler hovered within inches of her head. Stroke, stroke. Faster, faster, faster!  

She swallowed, continuing to goggle as it became apparent that a man in sopping wet shirt and pantaloons was just as exposed, if not more so, than a female sea bather. Oh, my!

“Are you all right?” Davenham demanded
       All right? Her husband’s words finally penetrated the fog. 

Grace note: In the passage above, "Oh my" could have gone either way. I chose italics for emphasis. I italicized "All right" because it was silent repetition of something already said.  

Her partners declared her to have the brightest smile and quickest wit in the room. Even though Lady Davenham was subjected to a variety of veiled glances and was the object of whispers behind numerous fans, she was an undoubted triumph. The littlest Ainsworth transformed into a Dasher. Imagine that!  

Grace Note: Italics are used above to indicate words spoken by anonymous people in a crowd.

Quotes from Steeplechase

But was Miss Icy Van Dyne the enemy? Gut reaction, Guerrero. No jumping to conclusions. He closed his eyes, picturing the queen of all she surveyed stalking up the gangplank.

Grace note:  In the passage above, italics are used to indicate exact words the hero is saying to himself.

Quote from Hidden Danger, Hidden Heart (unpublished)

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And yes, Steeplechase will be debuting sometime in the next two weeks on Amazon and Smashwords. So naturally, as I did final editing, it was a good source of examples. (Grin) Tarleton's Wife was thrown in there for nostalgia, the last of my books for which I don't have my rights back. (Sigh.)

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Thanks for stopping by,


For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.
For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.


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