My editor sent me the copy edits for my second manuscript, and I've spent the last week reviewing the changes. It's a great way to see where weaknesses lie (or should that be lay?) in my writing.
Apparently, I still have a fear of hyphens, because I didn't use nearly enough in my draft. The copy editor added dozens of them. I remember that the copy editor for my first book added hyphens on almost every page, and I swear I tried to pay attention to where I needed to add hyphens in this latest book, but I guess I have a blind spot in that regard.
I also have no idea when to use "further" and when to use "farther." In an effort to educate myself, I consulted Merriam Webster, but the first definition for further is farther. That's not a lot of help. I then checked the Grammar Girl's web site, and she had a handy tip. Use farther when referring to physical distances, and use further when speaking figuratively. I'd like to think I'll remember that rule forever, but I suspect I'll forget it as this copy edit gets further and further in the past.
Another spot where I need to brush up on my grammar skills is with the word, "only," one of the most frequently misplaced modifiers according to Grammar Girl. Based on the number of times the editor moved the word to its rightful place, I just throw "only" into a sentence willy-nilly without any thought to the correct location. I placed it in the right spot a few times, but I suspect that was mostly luck.
Looking through these changes reminds me that it's been many, many years since I sat through a grammar class. I would definitely benefit from taking a refresher course. Then again, I like to tell myself I'm giving the copy editor something to do. You know, in case she didn't have enough to do already. That's the only reason I'm not taking that grammar class. Yeah, right.