Touchstone’s copy edit
The original manuscript says:
He hit out against the Major, and inadvertently won his release.
The copy editor changed it to:
He hit out against the Major and, inadvertently, won his release.
This is the kind of question that takes me so long on a copy edit. Not the substantial near-revisions the editor gently requests, not the gaping holes in the sub-plots that suddenly catch my eye, but these weird grammatical conundra. I come across one and sit, pencil poised, tasting the alternative readings on my tongue: He hit out against the Major, and inadvertently won his release. He hit out against the Major and, inadvertently, won his release. He hit out against the Major. His release inadvertently won, he etc. Hitting out against the Major inadvertently won him his release.
To me, punctuation is an extension of pronunciation. Where I would pause in speech, I stuck a comma; to indicate a heartier break, I add a dot to make it a semicolon.
Copy editors donâ€™t work that way. They have Rules, and the Rules have Reasons. Infinitives stick together unless there is good reason to separate them (and to prove her flexibility, this c.e. even took one of my carefully joined infinitives and brutally chopped it in two with the sharpened adverb Iâ€™d placed at the beginning.) Verbs agree with the subject. And punctuation serves to clarify.
So I have no doubt that it is more correct to say, He hit out against the Major and, inadvertently, won his release. But in order to stress the consequence of the sentenceâ€”first this happened, and as a result thatâ€”in the end I decided to hammer a STET onto the margin.
So in my book you’ll find Bennett Grey hitting Major Carstairs, and by doing so, inadvertently winning his release.
Itâ€™s my story, and Iâ€™m sticking to it.