I’m an editor, and I’m looking for some feedback on how to address an issue with a client. I’ve edited for them quite a few times. I originally applied all grammar rules strictly, including comma rules, as their guidelines said they wanted. After quite a few manuscripts, I received a message telling me that in the future they would prefer me to apply comma rules less strictly and judge by the flow of the sentence instead. Commas are flexible little guys, so no worries.
However, yesterday I received this message:
Thanks! We did find one issue with commas and just wanted to ask you to double check through Word’s grammar checker going forward Here it is:
One problem with comma use in it. Commas should only be before conjunctions when they’re separating two complete thoughts:
I went to the store, and I bought some peanut butter. CORRECT
I went to the store, and bought some peanut butter. INCORRECT
This should be: I went to the store and bought some peanut butter.
Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions
Okay, the didactic attitude is rude, but I’m trying to look past that. The main problem here is that she’s now “reminding” me to do something which the same person specifically requested I not do.
They’re good clients overall, and I think I’d like to keep doing business with them. I’m looking for a non-hostile way to point out that I cannot honor both requests at once, and that I’ve only been using the second approach because she requested it.
Here’s my draft. Feedback would be appreciated.
In the past, I’ve applied comma rules more strictly, as your original style guide requested. You then explained that you valued the sentence’s grouping and flow more than strict grammatical correctness. I can apply comma rules more strictly or less strictly, but I don’t see how to do both at once. When applying a general rule would make a specific sentence less coherent and graceful, instead of more so, then a choice must be made.
Since I can’t treat both the style guide’s rules and the individual sentence’s flow as top priority, I’ve been honoring your previous request to phrase the sentence optimally. I can stop doing that and return to strict rule application, but I’d like to confirm that this is what you want. We can’t keep changing it back and forth; I’m already partway through [current manuscript name], and previous entries in this series were done with graceful sentences valued above comma placement rules.
What would you like me to do with the current manuscript? I can restart it with strict comma rule application, but that would extend the delivery time a bit, and I believe it would also damage the author’s voice. I can also continue from the current point but switch to the new/old guideline, or can simply continue editing this one in the style of the two previous series entries.