Academic Editor Will Read Fiction—for Fun

With some big academic writing projects of my own completed, I finally have not only the time but the psychological space to read some nonacademic, fiction books—for pleasure. Now, I read—and enjoy doing so—all the time. As is more than obvious from my site, I perform academic editing on manuscripts from diverse fields. I also have an unhealthy obsession with culture blogs, the New York Times online and in print on Sundays, and magazines of all stripes (we’re talking the New Yorker and Harpers as well as Entertainment Weekly and…Star). These are, with the possible exception of the tabloid, essentially nonfiction publications. But fiction? That’s just wild for me. I actually have a hard time with fiction because, as I often opine, reading for my doctoral qualifying exams (several years ago now) basically ruined me. I read for thesis, argument, and juicy quotations to enter into a word-processing program. I always appreciate a good turn of phrase and a well-articulated point, sure, but to sit inside a make-believe story is an altogether different experience. When I do venture over to the other side of the library, I often resort to frictionless fiction. I’ve been known to reread a certain series of wizardly young adult novels instead of picking up something new and maybe a bit more challenging. In other words, I’ve become sort of a sloth in terms of reading for fun. I just want what’s easy, familiar, and likely to relax (not invigorate) me. Part of the trick to starting and finishing books read for leisure is simply setting aside the time to read them. Only in extremely...

Trade Tool: Hyphenation Tables

Many of the tools I use as a professional academic editor could be used (and well!) by thoughtful writers and revisers, so I’ve decided to start featuring some of the handier implements and resources that are part of my editing routine. This first one I actually keep in my dock. (That’s the menu bar across the bottom of my Mac’s desktop.) It’s The Chicago Manual of Style’s hyphenation table. Found in chapter seven of the big orange book, the chart summarizes Chicago’s logic regarding compounds and provides very specific examples. Let me back up for a second: Chicago has a few foundational guidelines for the treatment of compounds (to hyphenate or not?). First, recognize that compounds tend toward closure. As it becomes more common, a term that’s open (“data base”) will probably become hyphenated (“data-base”) and then eventually close completely (“database”). Second, a compound modifier appearing before the term (usually a noun) that it modifies tends to be hyphenated: “at-risk students” versus “students at risk.” Those are the most important general trends to be aware of in order to treat compounds according to Chicago style. The hyphenation table itself contains four main sections: compounds according to category compounds according to parts of speech compounds formed with specific terms words formed with prefixes So you want to know how to handle a fraction? Section 1 includes “fractions, compounds formed with” and “fractions, simple.” There, we find examples such as “one and three-quarters” and general rules. Compounds formed with fractions (“quarter-hour session”) are open in noun form and hyphenated as adjectives. Simple fractions are hyphenated all the time unless the second...

TWEED Academic Editing on Kindle!

Kindle users: you can now subscribe to the TWEED blog with your e-reader! This means that all my tutorials, guides, tips, resources, tools, service updates, and Twitter posts are auto-delivered wirelessly to your device. Amazon makes the subscription risk free with a two-week trial period. I have some really content-rich blog features coming up, so this is a felicitous development. I don’t have an e-reader myself, so if you sign up, please let me know what it’s like to experience a blog on the Kindle. Apparently, I do get a few dimes each time someone subscribes, but I have no control over that, and this is not a get-rich-quick scheme by any means. I simply jump at the chance to make TWEED’s output available in new venues. In fact, the free RSS feed remains an option for everyone, and it only requires an online aggregator such as Google Reader. Another way to stay updated is by signing up for Annotations, TWEED’s periodical newsletter. Being plugged into TWEED means that you will be automatically notified of the powerfully useful blog columns I have on the docket. As I often say, stay...

This Is Where the Academic Editing Magic Happens

Yes, this is my office. A clean workspace helps me focus, but my desk rarely looks like this. More often, the top is covered with style guides, printouts, scraps of paper, bills, and writing utensils. Especially when I’m in the middle of a project, I allow piles to grow high and wide. My new goal is a clean desk every night before I turn out the lights. Only time will tell if I have the willpower to do it. I just have to remind myself that the clean desk is in service of work, not an end in itself. Editing is similar: style, mechanics, and formatting aren’t ends in themselves. The editing process isn’t just another hoop to jump through, and it’s not an exercise in vanity. Cleanliness and consistency of expression help convey information, argument, and meaning. Here’s to another week of strong scholarship, consistent academic editing, and clean workspaces! (Are you signed up for my newsletter, Annotations? I’m hardly unbiased, but I think you’ll find it helpful and...