I noticed it the other day when I started reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. But I know it’s not the first time I’ve done it, it’s just the first time I was actually cognizant of it.
It isn’t that it’s badly written by any means, but given the time period, there are sentences that to me could be simplified or at the very least reworded. It’s one of those things that it’s the preference of the author, and every author is different; which is perhaps the reason I wouldn’t make a great editor for someone else, because word choice and word placement depends greatly on each author. In many cases however we know that where you place the emphasis on each individual word offers an entirely different meaning. Language is terribly fascinating, the fact that where you pause, where you stop completely, or what words you decide to put emphasis on or not put emphasis on or even what’s left unsaid tells an entire story unto itself, is something a lot of people don’t think about on a regular basis but as an author we have to. In order for our readers to understand exactly what is being said and the tone with which it is being said, we have to ensure that our word placement and punctuation is accurately aiding us in telling this story rather than hindering us.
I can’t say for how long I’ve been doing this editing in my head thing either. I imagine at least as long as I’ve been a writer as well as a reader, but since I only really started thinking about it recently, it’s sort of like a completely new thing for me and more often than not it can make it difficult to enjoy a book, especially one where the sentences feel disjointed and oddly worded.
Does anybody else catch themselves editing people’s writing or is that just me?