I'm careful about my editing, but a lot of editors aren't. Once, a heavy-handed magazine copy editor totally rewrote my story; so much so that I didn't recognize it when I leafed through the magazine.
The big problem, though, is lazy newspaper editors picking a short anecdote to cut out of a story; even if it's a great anecdote, they cut it out. Or they end-cut the story.
They're more worried about making the story fit. Quality? Not so much.
I remember one particular editor whacking one of my stories that way, and I was furious. If I'd known he was going to do that, I'd have asked him to let me trim it myself.
Years before, I wrote a newspaper article about a swimmer from Alsace, France, named Philip Roth. His first name was pronounced the French way (Fee-LEAP), and Roth is a German name (Alsace is on the German border). It was a big deal to me because he was swimming for a college team in North Carolina. He seemed out of place.
The editor cut out the fact that Roth looked like German tennis player Ivan Lendl and spoke with a German accent but had grown up in France. He cut out the reason for me writing the story in the first place!
I asked him to fix it, but he said he was too busy. So I went into the computer and rewrote it, putting the info back and trimming it to fit his chosen length. It could have gotten me fired, but I didn't care. I wanted the reason for the story in there.
I remember the first editor (the one who cut anecdotes) being impatient as I cut a story of his to fit. I didn't cut out sections. I trimmed it carefully to make it fit and to let his writing shine.
I wish I could have taught him to do that.
Remember: I try to edit in such a way that the writer (and the reader) can't tell I've been there.
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