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Old 05-05-2011, 04:35 PM   #1
Hellmark
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Editing questions

In my spare time I've been slowly making an ebook of Hartmann the Anarchist. It is an interesting story, that has pretty much fallen off the face of the map, and generally difficult to find (two ebook copies of it exist, and both are poor OCR scans of the same dead tree copy).

Now, I've mostly got it all together, and looking pretty well, but have a few questions, basically trying to poll for personal preference.

When the book has bars or something to break up, do you use characters to try and mimic what they did (such as doing a line of asterisks), or use a horizon line (<hr>)?

Also, do you change grammar and punctuation for modern standards, such as making to-morrow into tomorrow.

Is there anything I should try and avoid, due to issues for various readers or apps?
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Old 05-05-2011, 05:03 PM   #2
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For me, any kind of centered row of characters (like hash marks, or whatever), or a horizontal line (hr tag) is fine.

I think you should keep the original spelling.
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Old 05-05-2011, 05:15 PM   #3
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I agree with Susan about the centered row/horizontal line, but disagree about the spelling. If the purpose is to simply recreate the original, then the original spelling should be maintained, regardless of idiosyncracy. But if the purpose is to have modern readers read it, the spelling and punctuation should be modernized. We no longer read, for example, Beowulf or other classics of the Middle Ages in Old English because few readers are capable of dealing with it or have the patience to do so. Using the original spelling simply creates roadblocks for modern readers. You want readers to get to the story not struggle with tangentials.
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Old 05-05-2011, 05:57 PM   #4
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What I found to be most strange was the use of quotation marks. For example, this was how the original had a letter quoted:
Code:
                   "3, Carshalton Terrace, Bayswater.
"Dear Mr. Stanley,
       "We have just returned from Paris, where
we had, as you know, intended to stay some time.
Old Mr. Matthews, whom you will recollect, died
about a fortnight ago, leaving the Colonel one of his
executors. As the estate is in rather a muddled con-
dition, a good deal of attention may be necessary,
so we made up our minds to forego the rest of our 
trip for the present. I shall be 'at home' to-morrow
afternoon, when we shall be delighted to see you.
With best wishes from all.
         "Always yours sincerely,
                      "Maude C. Northerton.

"P.S.—Lena comes in for a bequest of £5000 in
Mr. Matthews's will."
Each section starts with a mark, but an ending one isn't seen until the end of the postscript.

As far as intentions, I'm not sure if I am more interested in preserving the text, or the story. I have taken a few liberties, but mostly with page layout. The story includes illustrations by Frederick T Jane (founder of the Jane's Information Group, known for their reference material of warcraft), which are quite cool, and I've shifted them around slightly so they're not right in the middle of a paragraph. What works on paper, doesn't always work in digital.
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Old 05-05-2011, 06:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellmark View Post

Each section starts with a mark, but an ending one isn't seen until the end of the postscript.
That is the correct way of punctuating a multi-paragraph quote. In the UK, at least.
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Old 05-05-2011, 06:21 PM   #6
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quotation weirdness

It seems to me that quotation mark weirdness is not too unusual.

In this case it may depend on the time period it was written in, or the location. England uses different punctuation marks and spellings than American English. I also noted some differences when I recently read a ebook by an Australian author. It was not huge, but I noted a few things that seemed "off" to me.

I would try and keep it in the spirit of the original, but make it as readable as you can. If that means fixing some of the punctuation marks to conform with modern usages I think that is fine. Just make a note of it at the end.

I tend to fix spellings to conform with modern ones. I think its distracting to the reader to have the old style ones, and unless they actually paid attention to the publication date they may not realize the spellings are simply old style and not errors.

Amy
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:21 PM   #7
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I would absolutely, positively keep the original spelling and punctuation and grammar. I want to read what was originally written, with all its idiosyncrasies, not someone's modern version; to-morrow is perfectly understandable to the modern reader.

The use of quotation marks in the letter is indeed correct.
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Old 05-05-2011, 07:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhadin View Post
I agree with Susan about the centered row/horizontal line, but disagree about the spelling. If the purpose is to simply recreate the original, then the original spelling should be maintained, regardless of idiosyncracy. But if the purpose is to have modern readers read it, the spelling and punctuation should be modernized. We no longer read, for example, Beowulf or other classics of the Middle Ages in Old English because few readers are capable of dealing with it or have the patience to do so. Using the original spelling simply creates roadblocks for modern readers. You want readers to get to the story not struggle with tangentials.
But this is not Beowulf. If the original were written in Old English, then the person digitizing it is acting more in the capacity of a translator, and should be credited as such. The case at hand is something modern.

Where do you draw the line? Note that the OP mentioned grammar, not just spelling. I just would not start down the slippery slope of fixing existing works to adhere to modern standards.
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Old 05-05-2011, 09:15 PM   #9
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I despise hyphens under any circumstance, there are exceptions but they are rare.
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:08 PM   #10
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Not a fan of dashes either, but I've found I like using them for interruptions. Good way to show someone got stopped mid sentence. If you use trailing periods, it doesn't give an abrupt feel.
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:14 PM   #11
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Ellipses are usually used for pauses and trailing-off speech, em dashes for abrupt breaks.
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:07 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
That is the correct way of punctuating a multi-paragraph quote. In the UK, at least.
Absolutely; it's entirely normal that in a multi-paragraph quote, an opening quote only is used in every paragraph except the one at which the quote ends.
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Old 05-06-2011, 01:14 AM   #13
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I detest the use of a full width HR within a story.

Stars, Hash, just about any small balance character is OK for breaks
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Old 05-06-2011, 03:32 AM   #14
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I don't have any problem with HR but if it's too big it might look a bit strange on screen, so a short one (maybe, say, 20%) would look OK.

As for using modern grammar and punctuation, I'm all for that as long and there is also a copy with the original grammar and punctuation available. So I'd suggest that you make two versions of it, one old one with the original (as the author intended) and one with the modern. Let the reader choose which they'd prefer.
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Old 05-06-2011, 03:58 AM   #15
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Change the punctuation, by all means. That is something that's routinely changed by the publisher anyway. But leave the grammar alone - choice of grammar is down to the author, and if you mess with that you no longer have what the author wrote.
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