“Please take back out every Oxford comma,” a journalistic-minded author of mine once said. I began my editing career using Associated Press (AP) Style, so I understood his suggestion, but the house style at my current company mandated the use of the serial comma. We had a short, spirited, and (thankfully) respectful debate about it, and ultimately house style prevailed. I convinced the author that the meaning in his writing remained unchanged and using a serial comma accomplished something important to the company—it maintained consistency throughout their titles.
So you’ve written a novel. You’ve done a couple of drafts, and you feel good enough about it to ask a few people to take a look. Choose carefully; you need constructive feedback, not unconditional love. You won’t get it from the person who’s kept all your precious papers since you were four, and you won’t get it from your soul mate. Your trusted readers are business casual: friendly, but there for a reason.
The first read is mostly for characters and story—the who, what, and why. Your trusted readers tell you what was great about the book and what wasn’t so great. They ask for clarification and comment on that thing that happens in chapter four that maybe could happen sooner, or not at all. You grit your teeth, smile, and revise.
What is XML, anyway? Is it some fancy new coding language I have to learn? Why do we use it? Why is it part of the editing department?