The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

11 November 2012

In which I am frustrated by poor editing

Where are the editors?  Did they all pack up and move en masse to Johnny Depp's island in the Caribbean? Perhaps they are working to rule, protesting for pay raises and better benefits?  They are certainly absent from far too many books found on book shop and library shelves these days.  I've come across many books spoiled by poor editing.

I'm currently reading a cosy*. I don't expect a lot from my casual reading - entertaining story, loosely plausible plot, likeable characters, with enough interest to keep me turning the pages. In this particular book, I've overlooked a few sloppy mistakes: a distinctive phrase repeated several paragraphs later (I catch this in my own writing. It needs disinterested editing to catch this particular error.), grammatical errors (ex. the sun shined on her eyelids).  I could excuse them all in part because I like giggling at printed mistakes, and in part because the author sprinkled enough charm through her prose that I knew I'd be happy I saw the book through to the end.

Until this very moment when I read the passage which sent me venting to you:
"Lindsey nodded, letting Beth take the lead since it was her personal business they'd be disclosing.
Beth gave an annotated version."

Using the word annotated gives the exact opposite meaning the author intended. It suggests that Beth used explanatory notes to augment her version, meaning it would be longer and more informative.  Instead, what Beth shared was brief and sketchy, providing the barest amount of information.  The word wanted here is abbreviated.


*A cosy is a subgenre of mystery fiction in which there is no sex or violence, the main character is an amateur sleuth, and the story is usually set in a small community.


  1. I am totally cracking up, and I THANK YOU for the giggle! Actually, I realize I am guilty of employing the error of annotated versions in my, um, daily conversations. Good to now have a name for my malady.

  2. I know what you mean Tess. Although I am not known for my editing skills, and don't always notice issues with others papers, I seem to see them in bold in books. My pet peeve is usually children's books, which are often written in improper english and then teachers expect children to understand the art of english and writing.... really, they have no clear reading examples:). I love your description, It made my blog-reading day.

    God bless,

  3. I'm glad you included a definition of cosy. I've learned something new. My first thought was, "She's reading a tea cosy?" Sorry, I've led a sheltered life.

    I do agree with you about the lack of editing in books and articles. I've also heard other writers complain about the quality of the editors they hire.

  4. We should all rise up in protest! Let's bring good editing back to the publishing world! Frances, especially to children's books. Amen.