Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Oh, wah

Copy editors get the usual treatment in this Freep article about an Elmore Leonard novel being serialized in the NYT Magazine.
It's the first time Leonard has written serial fiction for a newspaper. It's the first time he's written a serial, period. The work took him all summer and really cut into his tennis playing.

And that was before the Times copy editors got it. Now, the idea of Elmore Leonard and his expletive-spouting bad guys being edited for a newspaper that still identifies women as Mrs. So-and-So is hilarious. In time, Leonard will probably think it's funny, too.

Right now, though, he's listing the things that the detail-oriented Times editors said were no-nos. "Getting laid." The Gray Lady's gatekeepers X'd that one.

"Arkansas." Arkansas? In newspaper style, it's abbreviated Ark.

But what if a person is saying "Arkansas"? You still abbreviate, because it's in the stylebook. Even if you're writing fiction, it seems.

Sutter fought the Times' copy editors on that one, and you can see his victory in Chapter 2. But Sutter's still hot about it.

"They don't realize this guy's got a sound. Every word. Ar-kan-saw. That's a big word for Elmore," Sutter says. "He sweats every word."

True? Some copy editors have their doubts. I'd guess it's exaggerated. We're such easy villains.


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