Beware the interrobang, and shun the frumious irony mark

I did quite a bit of proofreading and copy editing over the past couple of weeks. Some of it was for my side-gig as a staffer for Creepy Campfire Quarterly, some of it was double-checking edits made to one of my stories which will be appearing in a new anthology released on Halloween (more on that later this month), and some of it was giving a once over to the galley copy of another anthology I’ll have a story in which should be out before Halloween (again, more to come on that).

I’m enough of a self-avowed bibliophile to readily cop to the fact that, even when I read a book for fun, I read every single word, cover to cover. So when I’m copy editing, I do the same, even more attentively. And every once in a while paying close attention to the front matter and prelims, instead of skimming or skipping them, yields up a gem like this:

Warning: The unusual punctuation of ‽, doing the double duty of
both a question mark and an exclamation point, and ؟, indicating
sarcasm, may appear within these pages.

I love it. Not a Note To The Reader, not a bit of Typesetting Minutiae, a straight up WARNING. Do not proceed unless you are prepared to have your preconceived notions of minimalist punctuation blown away. Truly we are through the looking glass here, people.

If it sounds like I’m mocking the editor or publisher, please know that I am not in the least. I am genuinely, unironically delighted. I very much enjoy being creatively associated with people who care so deeply about the way readers experience their work, down to every last squiggle of inflection. And if employing non-standard approaches catches an unassuming reader off guard, at least they can’t say that they weren’t forewarned.


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