Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Editor's Secrets" - Hardly Secret, but Good Advice

"5 editor's secrets to help you write like a pro"
Remarkable Communication (September 10, 2007)

"I do a lot of copyediting, both of books and advertising collateral. I'll let you in on a secret that still surprises me, although I've seen it hundreds of times now. If you looked at the raw work of most professional writers, you'd be pretty underwhelmed.

"Professional writers get work because they hit their deadlines, they stay on message, and they don't throw too many tantrums. Some pros have a great writing voice or a superb style, but as often as not, that gets in the way. When you know that the best word is 'prescient,' it's hard to swallow when an account manager tells you the client won't know what it means.

"Professional writers rely on editors to fix their clunks. Like good gardeners, sensitive editors don’t hack away—we prune and gently shape...."

Most of this article is hardly a "secret:" like "1. Sentences can only do one thing at a time."

It's good, common-sense advice, though: and I recommend reading this - at least as a refresher micro-course.

Two things jumped out at me:
  • Eschew obfuscation
    (that's not what was written - see if you can spot what I'm referring to)
  • Use spellcheckers
Let me clarify that last item: use spellcheckers prudently! I routinely spell-check my work for typos. I also re-read what I've written for the sort of howlers that spellcheckers will miss.

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