I’m doing an editorial and production internship at Blasted Heath, and just finished copy editing two volumes of crime fiction by Gerard Brennan and Ray Banks, some fine crime noir of short, gripping tales that were an utter relief to soak into. Crime novelist, literary agent and more recently digital publisher Allan Guthrie, discussed the changes with me, in what was a very enlightening and engaging session. Some very quick highlights and lessons I gained as a copyeditor (for fiction) follow:
Be consistent, if correct. (Be correct)
Do not un-hyphenate compound adjectives. If they follow a noun, then you may.
Blood-covered dust but Dust, blood covered. or of course, BLOODY DUST!
If you are not sure, comment, but do not change.
The Author comes first, knows better.
Do not mess with dialogue.
Do not change the writing unless the author is technically wrong.
If even one dictionary spells like the author, go with the spelling.
Americans love the Oxford comma, more than the British.
Do not suggest editorial changes, as a copy editor. Okay to think ahead, but think straight.