Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The importance of being edited

I've mentioned before that feedback and revision are key elements of any writing project. Having a great editor is also a necessity--not a luxury. They don't just possess another set of eyes, but a mastery of the language that will make sure that you say precisely what you want to say (and probably in fewer words). Many of them are geniuses and strikingly handsome.

Full disclosure: I am an editor.

Here's an example of what can happen if you don't pay attention to stuff like grammar and punctuation (cribbed enthusiastically from Marda Dunsky's "Watch Your Words"):

Dear John:

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours?


Nice, huh? On the other hand, what if Gloria moved around her punctuation a little bit?

Dear John:

I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?


So, to conclude: In option one, Gloria is going ring-shopping. In option two, she's looking for a restraining order. Love thy editor, lest your book about small-business men turn into a story of a diminutive capitalist.

1 comment:

M. Gants v4.0 said...

Ha, pretty cool little example. Very clever Mr. Doyle :)