I love this soft watercolor that reveals my thoughts on editing…

I hope you always have smooth sailing working with your editor.

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Editors

I know that we are dreaded like the plague

And good writers all have been known to beg

For leniency, or “for just this once”

“Let me please have my participles in a bunch…”

It’s not rocket science or even a hunch

There really are tried and true rules

That adhere to the ‘Elements of Style’ clues

The bible, so to speak, on traditional editing

There is a right way and a wrong way for betting

On your words, finding your way

To take your thoughts and what you say

And put it in verse for another day

Or lovely prose with descriptive highlights

To tickle someone’s fancy and take them to new heights

In appreciating a well-edited dialogue

So your momentous scene isn’t bogged

Down, dribbling with boring facts

Or inconsequential IT hacks

Who’d rather be staring at patterns in binary

Who cares about your words? So secondary

To your science, technical, and professional views

If you can’t spill the beans on the most recent news

In your industry and do it justice

Your words are just tracks of scuffs

Showing you’ve been there

But you just didn’t care

About the right ways to present

Your latest new plot or business event

When you need to get the word out

By better means than just a shout

Editors can make it delectable–

Extract the extraneous, enhance the essential

Let your words speak for themselves

Letting your editor proofread and clarify

With accuracy and consistency

What you need to in-print upon the masses

For all time, literate passes

Through the online super highway

To express your desires, put out the fires

On the subject matter that you share with your peers

Releasing your fears, making the syntax clear

Yeah, an editor can do all that…

–© 2016 by Deborah A Bowman.

books and journals

Editing from yesteryear…

Editorial Tips: What If You Really Mess Up?

Just this weekend I posted a blog with a misspelled word in the heading–“dos” instead of “does”. Well, my Spanish isn’t good enough to pawn it off as the number two, which didn’t make sense anyway, so there I was with the only line showing on the link broadcasting my error. A delightful friend immediately sent me a comment on Facebook, “Is this an editor’s test? lol” Why didn’t I just go with it and say, “Yes!”? I caught it and fixed it right after I hit “Publish” on WordPress, but since I have automatic share for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, it was out there for all to see. In my haste to remedy this, I sent the whole post to trash. It was a rather lengthy poem with visually descriptive words, now lost and gone forever, except for the heading postings everywhere which now link to nothing.

A Magic Button on Your Keyboard to Fix Everything ... Wouldn't That Be Nice?
A Magic Button on Your Keyboard to Fix Everything … Wouldn’t That Be Nice?

As much as every writer and editor would love to have an all-knowing editing key or a magic wand to clean up any discrepancies and errors/typos in a manuscript, business letter, a blog posting, even an email, it just doesn’t exist. The human element of eyes, ears, and touch remains the only way to be sure you’ve said what you meant to say in a manner that will relate to your target audience.

There’s no way a computer can think and analyze like a human brain. We speak and write metaphorically, tongue-in-cheek, sarcastically with puns and wit and comparisons that a machine governed by a finite set of rules and commands cannot comprehend. The hard drive doesn’t care how many times you use the same, monotonous word in a sentence, in a paragraph, on a page, in a chapter. Nor does your spell-check, grammar-check, or latest software package notice inconsistencies in who, what, when, where, and how.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if you sent an RSVP with all the information garbled by the automatic words the smart phones or tablets choose for you? For example, misspelling both names:   Who was giving the event and for whom; What the event was–hmm..wouldn’t that make for a colorful dress code, jeans and shorts to black-tie and gown, perhaps festive and mourning attire; When the event was occurring–time and date; and Where? Of course a misspelled street name and an incorrect address number and zip code. How to get there? Try GPS or mapquest on that one!

Destination Nowhere
Destination Nowhere

You can’t trust your own eyes to show you what you’ve written. They see what they expect to see.

You can’t hear your mistakes in your mind as you read silently to yourself. Your inner ear hears what it expects to hear.

You can’t touch your words on the screen with a pencil, a pen, an eraser. If you print it out your eyes, ears, and engrained memory of what you’ve written will still have you reading right over a misplaced, forgotten, or left out word.

All is not hopeless. You just need a proofreader or editor who hasn’t seen your words before. Also, editors train their senses to see, to hear, and to touch inconsistencies, discrepancies, and content that is awkward or structurally unsound. They just can’t proofread for themselves. I don’t see technology changing these basic human traits.

So please let me know if I’ve messed up again. I’m always grateful for a chance to make things right.

Destination Somewhere!
Destination Somewhere!