Through the mechanism of Microsoft Word’s track changes, it’s not just the typos you’ve inadvertently missed that are corrected in red, it’s other things like the “Oxford serial comma” thanks to the Oxford University Press.
And so here I was with all those corrections in red and my only defense to strike back in blue. For instance, my laconic central character can’t wait till he sees Laura again. The editor strikes out “till” and inserts “until” and does it over and over again, thus altering this Indiana farm boy’s clipped thought pattern. Another character (a thug from the mean streets of the Lower East Side) says, “You will do this thing or else.” She inserts a comment demanding to know or else what? Which would throw off the character’s rhythm, not to mention the dangling threat. How silly would it be if he finished the sentence by saying “. . . there will be dire consequences”? And so on it goes.
Speaking of rhythm, back to the comma war. It seems there are two schools of thought. One plays it by ear, using the comma to mark a pause. Since I read over my work as if I were telling the tale, a comma at the end of a series of thoughts would feel like taking a breath. On the other hand, a serial comma supposedly is a necessity for clarification—e.g, She listed the projects she wanted done, made the assignments, and rushed out the door. For me and my sense of rhythm, that comma before the “and” just breaks up the flow.
Of course the Internet, in its hell-bent rush, is full of examples that would be ridiculous without a serial comma. “The country-and-Western singer was joined onstage by his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings.” No argument there. Can we just say it all depends?
However, after the first pass and hundreds of red markings followed by blue counter-strokes, something had to give. At this rate, the editor and I would be working at cross purposes, would never get along, and the manuscript would have no chance to get back to the publisher in time. (Note the comma before the “and” which in this case seems to fit)
Needless to say, we came to a compromise. All I can hope is that readers will be carried along by the story and won’t find themselves sputtering here and there without quite realizing why.