Sunday, February 3, 2008

Em-Dash and Other Thoughts on Copy-editing


Apparently in Gatesland, the wizard we call Autoformat takes the two hyphens we place on the page and alchemisizes them into an elongated hyphen rather than the standard printer's em-dash.

The memoir finally known as SEVEN WHEELCHAIRS: A Life beyond Polio sports an em-dash on nearly every page -- at least I think so, for I am inordinately fond of its use, the reason which may be explained as "a dash used to show and interruption in thought."

In conversation, my sweet wife calls this zig-zagging, which is the mode that prevails when we are together. The tendency carries over to my writing, perhaps because what arrives at my fingertips represents the modus operandi of my brain function.

Nearly every page of the copy-edited SEVEN WHEELCHAIRS carries blue pencil scribbling -- em-dash. Other than that foible -- which might be considered mud accumulated after a drive through Gatesland -- most of the suggestions are requests for reaffirmation of spelling -- my wife's sister's name is properly spelled Roxane, and my father had no official middle name thus like Harry S Truman his name is properly Verdie B Presley, no period needed, thank you.

Tomorrow I read it from title page to "The End," answering questions and acknowledging minor corrections. Then I plan to let it rest a day, like a good steak taken from the oven. Then once more into edits. Then another rest day. Then another read through. Next Fed-Ex.

And then ...

3 comments:

Ruth D~ said...

You must be exhausted and so saturated with your own tale that it hardly seems real.

BTW, I love the em dash myself. Now I know why. Zig-zaggy thoughts and interrupted thoughts.

Bob Sanchez said...

I love the em dash myself. If you would like to use it in your blog, go into editing mode and replace all double hyphens with:



This is the ASCII code for the em dash.

Bob Sanchez said...

Well, duh. I meant to give you the code for the em dash, not the character itself! It's the following without the spaces:

& m d a s h ;