In these posts, with the author’s permission, we look at their work pre-editing and post-editing—and at what I did to improve the piece.This is probably breaking a point or two of some unpublished Editor’s Creed, but today’s volunteer for In The Edit (Linda Rohrbough) is a good friend, so I will just swallow hard, bite the inside of my cheek, and admit it: Editor’s don’t always communicate perfectly.
Pardon me, but I need a moment to catch my breath.
You’ll notice when you look at the various versions of Linda’s “Market News” article that I wholesale cut out a huge chunk at the end. This is not because Linda wrote it poorly or that the information was not of value. This is because (The inside of my cheek is already bleeding, so why not? Chomp!) I failed to let her know that the word count for the article had changed.
Linda is a tight writer. She knows well the less = more economy of words. My main focus when editing this piece was:
- Tightening: There are almost always words to remove, whether because of redundancy or because they aren’t needed.
- Style: For the ACFW Journal we default to AP style.
- Tone: Linda’s column is one that is read by all levels of ACFW membership so we strive for a professional tone, while still encouraging Linda’s voice.
Remember, Linda already writes tight. But, in the second paragraph I was able to reduce the word count by seven words (60 to 53) and eliminate some passivity (Bowker manages and publishes rather than Bowker is known for managing and publishing).
In the next graf, I was able to do even better! (Yes, editors often pat themselves on the back for reducing words. Live with it.) Eliminating “I spoke with” as unnecessary—Linda wrote the piece, we know who spoke with Colleen Coble—and taking out where they spoke (not pertinent to the point) accomplished most of the reduction from 65 to 43 words.
AP style is among the most fluid. I refer to the Associated Press Stylebook so often, that I’ve subscribed to the e-version. Because I’m always looking, I know that AP approves of email (no hyphen) but not ebook. So, where Linda used ebook I changed it to e-book and changed internet to Internet.
One of the things I love about Linda’s writing is the accessibility of her word choices and her conversational tone. When editing the “Market News” column, however, I keep the audience (professional writers and editors, or those aspiring to professional status) in mind and tend to tone down some of that.
You can see this in my edits of her subheads, but also, as an example, in paragraph 4, where I took out some hedging and redundancies, i.e., would a publisher attempt to shore up a bottom line if it wasn’t sagging?
Linda, thanks for letting me use you as an example!
If you would like to see your writing in a future In The Edit post, send a maximum of 350 words to michael.ehret (at) inbox (dot) com. Please send in Word format (.doc). If I use it, you’ll be eligible for a 10-percent discount on any editing services.
On Thursday, we’ll look at passive vs. active writing, so be sure to visit. Then on Saturday, drop by for a quick writer’s quote and to share what that quote means to you.