At the beginning of this course, we each compiled a list of responsibilities of a copy editor. Little did I know at the time that I would soon be employed as a copy editor with the campus newspaper, The Times-Delphic.
So far, I’ve learned copy editors should first have experience as writers because submitting a story can sometimes feel like ordering coffee at Starbucks.
- The barista (editor)
- will listen to your order (read your draft)
- and yell the order back to you (return your copy)
- in his own ‘Starbucks language,’ switching around the order in which you recited the description of your drink (with so much red ink all over your copy, it looks like a scene straight out of “Carrie”)
- all the while with a look of disdain on his face.
Copy editors should respect the sanctity of a writer’s distinct voice in a piece (while following AP style, of course) otherwise the publication ends up reading like a boring, homogenous nonfat-decaf-cafe` latte.
With that said, a copy editor’s military-quality search and destroy missile (a red pen) can be reduced to a mere sniper rifle with just one revision by the writer or section editor before it reaches his/her desk.
When I told her I got the job, my mother sent me a link to the 2009 Dow Jones Grammar Test, which promptly took me down a peg.
I’ve also gained a renewed appreciation for Vampire Weekend’s song and video “Oxford Comma,” and the answer to a revolutionary question.
What experiences have people had with editors? Anything resembling the example in chapter 8 of our Coaching Writers textbook, when you read the story and it looks nothing like the draft you submitted?
Finally, what do copy editors call Santa’s elves?