Yesterday, I wrote about authors who screw around with punctuation and make a bizillion dollars with their flagrant disregard for all those nasty grammatical rules — as set down in third grade by Sister Mary Hercules and her wooden stick. Hah! I should talk. I wouldn’t know my comma from a hole in my semi-colon. I didn’t know it in third grade; I’ve certainly disintegrated since then. (Could it be all that boxed wine I drink?)
I just write stuff. Except for this bloggy place where all punctuation bets are off, I send my manuscripts to a professional editor who, once she stops laughing, puts all the little punctuation thingys in their proper place. She lives in another state, so I’m not in the least afraid of her wooden ruler. She sends my manuscripts back with little red-penned editor’s marks all throughout the pages. Sometimes I get a smiley face here and there. I love her for it. I pay her for it. She’s worth her weight in rulers.
There are a lot of very good private editors out there. Find one who is kind. That helps. It also helps to find an editor who knows more than punctuation. I want a professional who can spot a cliche from across the room and who will call me on the carpet for it. I want someone who can spot that my hero was blue-eyed in the first chapter, but changed eye color in the middle of chapter twenty-three. I want a genius, because I’m not. I want someone who knows the difference between to, too, and two … or farther and further. (That’s always a doozy for me.)
If you’re anything like me, you just want to tell your little stories and let someone else fuss with your grammatical errors. I pay good money for the privilege of those red marks on my paper. I don’t think the nuns hit people with rulers any more, but I wouldn’t chance it if I were you. Find yourself a secular in another state. It rilly werks fer me!