Found online:It was Williams, after the disastrous three-year tenure of Bob Wade, who
picked up the pieces of a shattered program and made Maryland matter
again. There's an easier way to do this for the reader. After the disastrous three-year tenure of Bob Wade, it was Williams who picked up the pieces of a shattered program and made Maryland matter
FOUND ONLINE:Head coach Mike London and the Virginia football team picked up another
commitment for the Class of 2012 Sunday, as running back Divante Walker
has verbally committed to the Cavaliers. The problem is that this isn't the Class of 2012. If they're lucky, they'll graduate from UVa in 2016 or 2017. It IS the high-school Class of 2012, however, but that's not what they're writing about.
As an editor, I do the obvious, of course: I look for typos, misspellings and factual errors, but there's much, much more.
editing and vetting a novel, I quickly realized that the writer had an
Army general shooting snipers. It was her business, of course, but a
general would never get in that situation. A colonel? Maybe, but not
likely. A major? Possibly. The lower the rank, the more plausible this
She laughed. She already
that a general would never be caught with a rifle shooting snipers. She
hoped that no one would catch it. If I caught it, she said, someone
else would; so she turned the general into a major. The story
immediately became more believable. Not a lot, but some. A gunny
sergeant would make sense.
One of her characters was a
double agent, and she'd use a real name part of the time and her code
name at other times. I found it confusing, and I told her so. Hey, this
wasn't James Bond one time and 007 another. This was Jade (or whatever)
one time and Jasmine (or whatever) another.
another book, this one about ancient Egypt, she had a character whose
name didn't seem to fit the time and place. She thought that name might
have been used at that time and place, but she changed it. I think the
story became a little more plausible.
While editing another book, I noticed that the writer wrote Phillipians when he meant Philippines. Slight difference.
I do a lot of grunt work, whether it's in fiction or non-fiction books,
letters, web sites, term papers or whatever. I look for parallel
construction, changes of tense, tangled sentences. If I find a 50-word
sentence, I'll look for ways to convert it to a least two or more
I check for redundancies or words left out (or reversed). I
look for the simplest way to say something. And I check as
many facts as I can.
I ask questions: Does the writer
need this long, detailed explanation? Can we say this in 50 or 100 fewer
words? Is this sentence clear? Is the writer just saying the same thing
over and over?
Even in the doctoral dissertation, I
found ways to combine redundant sentences to make it simpler and easier
to read. I even broke up a few long sentences and paragraphs for his
When I edit, I think, is this
comma necessary? Should it be a semicolon or a dash? Would this sentence
be better with a comma? Is the writer using too many exclamation and
question marks? The decisions are
almost instantaneous (I've been doing this 30-plus years).
novelist mentioned above had trouble with punctuation. She'd have a
quote with a question or exclamation mark AND a comma -- "We never eat
out anymore. Why is that?," Martha asked. She didn't need the comma.
been pleased with her improvement. I find fewer typos and outright
mistakes. Her copy's cleaner and easier to read. She's getting better by
I once was "Americanizing" British non-fiction books for sale in North America. I
changed "favour" to "favor," "maximise" to "maximize," and "behaviour"
to "behavior." "Loo" became "toilet"; "solicitor" turned into "lawyer",
and "lift" became "elevator." With the help of Google, British slang was
translated, and when I could, I changed soccer analogies to baseball,
basketball or American football. It works better for U.S. readers.
I did more than that, of course, but you get a flavour, no, flavor of what I did in this case. I
remind the writer to proofread and edit his/her work a few
minutes and a few days later, time permitting. I tell writers to get a second or third pair of eyes on their work; don't trust Aunt Jane
or Uncle Bernie. A professional editor can make your writing sparkle and
make you look good. It's all part of editing. Some
writing is so muddled that I need a Rosetta stone. Other times, I don't
have much to do. Whether I'm editing a book or working for a newspaper
(I've worked at nine), my job is to help the writer and the reader. I
work to make the writer's writing shine. My editing will help the reader assimilate the most information in the easiest manner. I may cost a little more than some copy editors (and less than many others), but I'm worth it. And your writing's worth it, too.
Last year, I was editing an aspiring novelist who was struggling with attribution. He'd write something like this:
She stated, "You are a real dummy. "
And I'd change it to:
"You are a real dummy," she said.
The word "stated" is stilted. In most cases, "said" works fine.
"I'm a good writer, but I can be better," he said. (This is the simplest form of attribution.)
"This year," he said, "has been tough for the Republican Party." (This breaks up the same-ole, same-ole.)
"Our team has improved the last five games," said Neidermeyer, the
team's third-year coach. (This is a smooth way to do attribution.)
Don't worry; attribution is often a problem for even experienced writers and editors. Where do you put the "he said"?
I found this one day in a New York Times story: “My nose tells me
he’s a dealmaker kind of guy as long as both sides are playing
straight,” the New England Patriots’ owner, Robert K. Kraft, said. I would change the last part of the sentence to say: ," said Robert K. Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots.
In my last newspaper job, the reporters thought the editor preferred the mangled form, so they'd write, "We really like our jobs," Joe Schmoe, news director of the radio station, said Thursday. No, the editor actually preferred, "We really like our jobs," said Joe Schmoe, news director of the radio station.
It'd be nice to get Thursday in there, but it's implied that it would be a Thursday interview for a Friday newspaper. You can't put everything in there.
Found online:The Oakland Raiders have extending their list of potential head-coaching candidates to Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, according to a league source. I hope the writer meant extended rather than extending. I also don't care for Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers. That's called a stacked modifier. The Oakland Raiders have added Dom Capers, the Green Bay Packers' defensive coordinator, to their list of head-coaching candidates, according to a league source.