Practices of the editing process

Garie McIntosh facilitates a process-method as an editing solution to enable writers and editors to meet traditional publishing standards.

Overview

Garie McIntosh edits manuscripts using the Advanced Find tool in Microsoft Office, which he also uses to develop his manuscripts. He applies an innovative method that he has developed to adhere to grammatical integrity. He has named this method MCINTOSHFORMS™, which is now a product of his educational and grammatical editing business. The product has evolved into a process Garie titled The LEP. The aim of this resulting process-method, the combination of The LEP and MCINTOSHFORMS™, is to enable users to perform manuscript edits that meet traditional publishing standards.

Garie uses the above-described method as an editing tool, which he continually strives to hone to effectively structure and format his own work. The goal is to make his process relatable to the intended audience, writers and editors.

As a Canadian writer, Garie is aware of the influences that distinguish Canadian English. These range from word choice to spelling, including whether a noun is open, closed, or hyphenated.

Grammar

Garie believes that understanding, and being knowledgeable about, grammar and the linguistic aspect of English can maximize one's ability as a writer to influence diction.

Orthography

Garie has a deep understanding of conventional punctuation marks and other typographical devices. He uses this ability to elevate both formatting and readability.

Grammatical standards

Semantics and semantics

Garie's work takes into consideration syntax and semantics in that these two cornerstones of grammaticality provide an important and compelling reason to distinguish between grammatical form and grammatical function. He utilizes this distinction effectively and correctly through the use of dependent clauses and function words.

The following are some of the other grammatical areas that Garie focuses on to ensure both syntactic and semantic integrity in an edit:

  • Tense: the grammaticalization of the location of time
  • Aspect: encoding how a situation unfolds over time
  • Modality: grammatical expressions of mood rather than tense and/or the meanings so expressed via modal remoteness (irrealis moods/modal preterite)
  • Backshifting: sequence of tenses rule in reported speech and subordinate clauses
  • Readability: compounds and series addressing coordination and parallelism, contrast and opposition, and clarity
  • Grammatical form and grammatical function (morphology): the building of syntactic relationships and grammatically in sentences
  • Adjective modifiers: building meaning through the correct use and understanding of coordinate and cumulative adjectives in noun phrases.

Typographical/orthographic standards

Spelling

Regional spelling is a marker of thorough editorial vetting. For example, while the British spelling retains the "e" in words like "knowledgeable" and "judgement", American and Canadian English drop the vowel, i.e., "knowledgable", “judgment.”

On the subject of compound adjectives, we ALWAYS use a hyphen in adjective + participle compounds in Canadian English, where the position (attributive or predicative) of such a modifier does not influence whether it is used in words such as hard-working, open-ended, half-raising, etc. This criteria also applies to adjective-forming nouns (i.e., -ed in sparkly-eyed, black-haired, sunken-jawed, etc.), which do not have verb-related qualities, as might appear to be the case to some. However, the opposite is true on this rule on hyphen use in American English, where it is acceptable to write: She is a hard-working person (attributive) but NOT She is hard-working (predicative).

  • Word/noun choice: there are colloquialisms and compound noun phrases or words that are specific to geography, such as washroom vs. bathroom and First Nations/aboriginal vs. Native American/American Indian.
  • Compounds/spelling: a compound noun phrase can be open, closed, or hyphenated based whether the spelling is Canadian or American.

Hyphenation

The use of hyphens with compound nouns can be a creative one as evidenced by this quote from ThoughtCo.: "Interestingly, hyphenation is also used creatively to indicate that an idea that would normally be expressed by a phrase is being treated as a single word for communicative purposes because it has crystallized in the writer's mind into a firm, single concept."

Yet the prevailing, guiding principle is that if two words form a single idea, then a hyphen is often an indispensable tool. Take a look at the following examples from Garie's own work:

  • Normally a compound is one part noun, but in the following example, a compound is formed from an adjective and an adverb phrase; it's a matter of creativity: "The livelier-than-usual mosquitoes."
  • Two nouns representing different but equally important functions: "And she soon proved this gift-charm key to her life and to her future." / "I was your mother’s best friend, her sister-friend."
  • To prevent ambiguity: "But it was not because he had been fed dry bread and black sugar-water."

Capitalization

The importance of minding your capitalization could never be over-emphasized when it comes to Garie's approach to editing. Lack of correct capitalization, as with punctuation, is one of the indicators of an amateur edit. It may even reflect on the writer as a sign of ignorance, depending on the nature of the material. So without further ado, the following areas highlight just some of the instances where capitalization could be easily overlooked or taken for granted:

  • Appellations and reverential capitalization: appellations are words added to a person's name to show respect or to indicate titles, i.e., Dr., Mr./Mrs., etc. These are ubiquitous in all types of narratives. While reverential capitalization, used in reference to God (whether by noun or pronoun), may be used less frequently, there are still plenty occasions or characters that could make this use not so uncommon.
  • Titles: whether we are writing the name of a composition (a song, book, piece of music, film, etc.), they all adhere to the rules of title capitalization. Each rule is important, but one to always bear in mind is to capitalize the first word and the last word, regardless of the grammatical form or part of speech of such words.
  • Racial and ethnic groups: as proper nouns, these are always capitalized.
  • Titles within other titles, headlines and headers: there are rules for such circumstances that render capitalization of these titles exacting.
  • First word of a quotation: when matching surrounding text, sometimes you may need to change the capitalization of the first word of a quotation to indicate when the quoted material is from the beginning of a sentence (such change would be indicated by square brackets).
  • Forming the plural of single letters: you might come across a case where a character has to remind someone to mind his/her manners or language. What better way to have him/her do so than using the English expression, "Mind your P's and Q's"? Notice that the letters are in CAPS and italics. Here's another fun one that appears in my novel, What's in a Name: A boy has just been struck on the forehead, so the narration follows that he grumbled "a colourful string of ... infamous B's and C's." From a cultural perspective because the scene is set in Jamaica, Jamaicans would know what exactly those letters mean, but it should also be clear from context to almost anyone that those letters indicate that the boy was unable to mind his manners after what must have been a pretty hard blow.

Word break

Word break, also called work division, according to Lexico is the "point at which a word is split between two lines of text by means of a hyphen." Done correctly, word division allows the reader to be able to recognize or anticipate a word from the syllables fronting the break. This division also affects the shape (the book blocks) of a publication, and that shape is heavily influenced by the spacing between words, amongst other typesetting elements. The aim of line justification and end-of-line hyphenation (EoLH) is to balance all these elements and provide a pleasing reading experience. To do so, a compositor must know where and understand how to break words intelligibly/predictably and logically, using all the available resources in this complex phase of polishing a work for publication. Garie utilizes his understanding of the following to facilitate the typesetting process.

  • Affixes: approaching words etymologically to determine prefixes and suffixes.
  • Morpheme boundaries: breaking words based not on etymology but on pronunciation.
  • Style guides: using style guides to adhere to professional standards according to content and format.

Emphasis

Garie is versed in using formatting, apart from literary devices, in his narratives to create emphasis, which is a highlighting of the text to give it a performative sense. This typographical emphasis aids in correct understanding and reading by strengthening and distinguishing text, such as borrowed words, certain titles and internal dialogue.

Below are descriptions and illustrations of the use of italics as a typographical device that Garie uses in narrative passage:

  • Particular words: "I've been there. Not quite there there but in the midst."
  • Internal dialogue, such as an alter ego or guiding force: Dear Lord Reid was nervously, anxiously watching his daughter move in on him for something he did not have or he could not reciprocate. He was scared and helpless as his fear grew with every one of Christine’s laden advances. Now Christine was the seizure herself that had killed his mother. Christine was also the reminder that after he had been born, his mother had been taken away from him immediately. Christine had reached her. Althea was guilty, and ashamed of herself. An embrace would now be not just bad form, but the worst hypocrisy as well!
  • Free indirect discourse: thoughts that are usually set off from the narrative with a comma may include tags that are questions, statements or imperatives. Instead of being set off, they are blended into the passage, reducing the narrative distance, e.g., "Reid scratched the back of his head again and asked himself was she even going anywhere? and knew then that he was fighting a losing battle."
  • Reported speech: Tanya said, what about her name.

Below are descriptions and illustrations of other typographical devices and formatting methods Garie uses in narrative passages:

  • Questions as part of a statement: questions posed as part of a statement to place the reader in the mind of the character, e.g., "But his question was, Did she ever leave it there?" as opposed to an embedded question: "But his question was whether she ever left it there."
  • Statement tags: emphasize or reinforce an affirmative statement, e.g., "You coulda stop, [(that)] is all I know." or "You coulda stop, Reid Brown that is all I know."
  • Question tags: turn statements into yes-no questions, e.g., "You have a boy in here, don’t you?"
  • Imperative tags: a statement that softens the imperative clause a little, e.g., "Come over, won't you?"

Punctuation

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, punctuation "is the practice, action, or system of inserting points or other small marks into texts, in order to aid interpretation; division of text into sentences, clauses, etc., by means of such marks." And this is what Britannica.com says: "Punctuation, the use of spacing, conventional signs, and certain typographical devices as aids to the understanding and correct reading, both silently and aloud, of handwritten and printed texts."

To ensure optimal comprehension (readability) and book blocks (formatting), Garie uses conventional punctuation marks and other typographical devices in a focused, purposeful way:

  • Conventional signs: punctuation marks, including the ellipsis, em dash, en dash, apostrophe (for possessives/genitives and contractions/clitics)
  • Diacritics/diacriticals: accents and diaeresis marks in loanwords and Macrons in Latin words
  • Other formatting methods: non-breaking hyphens, optional hyphens, non-breaking space, ¼ em space, EoLH, etc.