As Im planning to assign Robert E. Howards 1928 Kull story By This Axe I Rule! for my philosophy of law class in the fall (yes, really), I was comparing the version in my Kull anthology with one I found online. The former is obviously Howards original version or close to it, while the latter (scanning errors apart) has clearly undergone well-meaning editing, slight but pervasive, to tame some of Howards eccentricities of punctuation and usage.
While many of the revisions are improvements (including a catch of Howards losing track of how many assassins were supposed to be at the door, and of the direction in which Ka-nus Pictish escort was heading), on the whole it seems to me that the unknown editor had a tin ear for Howards language, and the comparison has given me new respect for Howards craft as a writer.
Two constructions in particular seem to have attracted the editors disfavour what Ill call the fast transition (X happened and then Y happened) and the slow transition (X happened. And then Y happened). In nearly all cases, both kinds of transition get changed to the more grammatically conventional X happened, and then Y happened which Ill call the medium-speed transition.
But although some of Howards punctuational choices admittedly seem a bit random, I dont think there was anything random in his deployment of fast and slow transitions. (In this story, at least. I havent looked through Howards other stories with an eye to fast and slow transitions; sufficit diei.) His general preference for fast transitions fits the fast pace of the story; its like a cinematic tracking shot. But when he switches to a slow transition theres a good reason for it. A good example is when Kull tells Seno val Dor: I am sorry. But I cannot help you. The editor changes this to I am sorry, but I cannot help you, but rushing through the apology like this makes Kull seem dismissive; Howards version, pausing on the I am sorry, gives it the weight of sincerity. (I would go back and find more of the examples I noticed, but I am too lazy.)
One reason I think Howards preference for fast and slow transitions over medium-speed ones was intentional is that he symbolically incorporates it into his description of Kull:
There was nothing deliberate or measured about his motions either he was perfectly at rest still as a bronze statue, or else he was in motion, with that catlike quickness which blurred the sight that tried to follow his movements.
Ascalante leaped as a wolf leaps halted almost in mid-air with the unbelievable speed which characterized him ….
(In that last one its almost as though Howard is foreseeing bullet time.)