Thursday, November 28, 2013

Editing Pearls II - The Reversal

So when I did the novelization for Men in Black, I went looking for a bit of amusing doggerel to use for a lead-in, and found a poem by Sir Walter Raleigh. I stuck that up front, and shortly thereafter, I got a note back from the "book editor" at the movie house. 

This is opposed to the not-quote-unquote book editor at the book house. All editors are not created equal.

Apparently the movie folks like to pretend that some of them know enough about books to edit them, and while this might sometimes be the case, I have yet to experience this as being true.

Um. Anyway, the ms came back with the poem circled and a note: Do we need to get clearance (to use this)?

I fell out of my chair laughing.


Now the laity might be forgiven for not knowing that ole Walt Raleigh, long dead, has pushed up four hundred generations of daisies, and that anything he wrote, which was quite a bit, has long since been in the public domain, thus no clearance needed to use it, but one assumes a professional book editor would know this! What a maroon!

Here The Reverse. (A technical term for a sudden change of direction in a story, used most often in scriptwriting.)

While I was rolling around on the floor laughing at How Stupid Those Movie People Were, it turned out ole Walt didn't write that funny rhyme. A younger Sir Walter Raleigh did. Seems there is another English fellow, a professor, Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh, who penned that particular verse, and now who is the dickhead, hey?

Yours Truly. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

However, my error does not give the "book editor" a pass, because Walter Raleigh the Alexander has himself been pushing up the daisies for almost a hundred years, and the poem, written in 1914, long in the public domain. A real editor would have caught this.


Kris said...

Was just sent this, by a friend:

It seems that there may be worse things on the literary horizon than overeager editors.

Steve Perry said...

Robot editors. Geez.