Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pedantic Outbursts

First, a television reminder: Grimm moves to Tuesdays starting tonight, through the end of the season. I don't know if it will be permanent for next season (now that it's been officially renewed!). I think this has more to do with not wanting to waste a really valuable timeslot after another program in that slot tanked. I prefer it on Fridays, since I'm out on Tuesdays, and I really like my paranormal procedural block in the fall.

I finished reviewing copy edits, and now I'm on to one last proofreading pass, to make sure it still makes sense after I've made changes from the copy edits. There's a certain mindset to copy editors that's very precise and a little pedantic, so after a few days spent looking at an editor's comments, I find that mindset taking over my brain to the point that I find it hard to read.

In particular, two commonly used phrases are now suddenly really bugging me. I imagine they make copy editors' heads explode, but they keep ending up in books.

The first is "he/she turned on his heel and left" (or something along those lines). For some reason, that one really got to me all of a sudden, so I had to get up and turn around a few times to see how it works. I pretty much never turn on my heel. I turn on the ball of my foot. That could have something to do with my dance training or from marching band. I did finally find a way that I might turn on my heel. If I'm walking forward and then suddenly change my mind in mid-stride, I might use the heel on the front leg as it comes down as a kind of brake, and then turn, though the pivot is still on the ball of the foot.

At any rate, it's mostly only of those phrases that gets used more out of laziness and habit than anything else because you can generally get away with just saying "turned." Or maybe "turned abruptly." Or you could get more descriptive with "snapped about" or "pivoted" or "whirled."

Then there's another one that's used so often that people don't even think about it. I've probably used it a few times, and now that I've started thinking about it, it drives me mad. That's "warm blanket," as in "she wrapped him gently in a warm blanket."

Think about this for a moment. The default position of a blanket is "warm." There are cooling blankets used in hospitals to bring down fevers and then there are security "blankies" that are about comfort, but more often than not, the reason to use a blanket is for warmth, so it's generally unnecessary and redundant to say that a blanket is warm.

It's not even accurate. Unless it's an electric blanket or one of those hospital warming blankets used to treat hypothermia, or unless the blanket is right out of the dryer, the blanket itself isn't warm. It warms you by blocking any cold outside air from reaching you while it traps your body heat against your body.

So, it would seem that you could just say "blanket" except in the rare cases when the blanket isn't for warmth, which you would specify, or in the cases when it's important to note that the blanket itself is warm. Like if you're treating someone with hypothermia. If they don't have body heat, a regular blanket isn't going to help much, so you'd use a warmed blanket.

And that's our pedantic outburst for this round of copy edits. Who knows what will strike me on the next book. Oddly, neither of these things were an issue in the book that's just been edited. They were just things that struck me in other books while I was in that mindset.

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