This post is not about the Virginia law that would require unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds that can be performed without the woman’s consent before she can get an abortion. However if you are interested in signing a petition against this law, which, among other things, meets the legal definition of rape, please look here.
I’m talking about boobs. Who doesn’t like talking about boobs? I’m editing a novel told in the first person, and the narrator uses the words “boobies.” The slang the female narrator uses is usually perfectly appropriate to both her voice and the story. But the word “boobies” stopped me short. And so in what may have been my funniest query in a month I wrote:
AU: OK to change “boobies” to “boobs”? I find the word “boobies” annoying, so it might just be me. 🙂
[Aside: I don’t always use emoticons in my author queries. But when I have a more informal relationship with the author (i.e., I know he/she has a sense of humor) I use them. I find a little humor can make the editing process less painful. It’s good to remind the author that I am a person with feelings and a sense of humor rather than just a dried-up, anal, frustrated author who gets off on correcting other people’s grammar.]
But my editorial quandary leads to a broader question for editors. When are you editing and when are you expressing personal preference? We all know stories where editors replace perfectly good prose with prose more to their liking with no apparent rhyme or reason. And, let’s admit it, we’ve all couched personal preference in terms of Chicago. But how can you tell if you’re making a legitimate change?
I usually check with my editorial staff. This consists of either asking my colleagues (who are all gracious enough not to look at me as if I were stark raving mad) or yelling across the house to my husband. One can also leave a query for the author. Or google the word and figure out other contexts in which it is used (along with a lot of images that are highly unsafe for work).
After a brief impromptu staff meeting on the word “boobies,” my husband and I agreed that “boobs” was acceptable slang, but “boobies” was just ridiculous. Fortunately my author agreed.
How do you make these calls?