Re: Writers vs Editors

Subject: Re: Writers vs Editors
From: "Lisa Wright" <liwright -at- qwest -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 11:14:39 -0700

Andrew Plato on the role of editors:
> Editors do not generate content, they rearrange and reformat existing content.
> Editors must have a good eye for how to express things properly - but they do
> not need an extensive understanding of the content. Editors are great at
> enforcing standards - like a style guide.

Actually, I think editors who understand the content area can provide
more value to a doc than one who doesn't. Like a technically adept
writer, a technically adept editor can identify where content may not be
complete or accurate.

I also think that editors can contribute a great deal to keeping the
content on track, ensuring that it meets the needs of the audience, etc.
This partly takes the form of ensuring compliance with style guides and
standards, but it also means that the editor needs to read the doc with
his or her brain fully engaged and constantly asking questions. An admin
can do the compliance part -- are styles properly applied, etc. But when
I want substantive feedback on a doc, I want an editor who is focused on
making the doc better and has more ways of doing it than just moving a
paragraph here or there. The best editor I ever had was the one who
constantly made me think about and question what I was doing. To me,
editing can be a creative function, not because the editor is a
frustrated writer trying to impose her will on a writer, but because she
can bring the best out of the writer.

I like editing other writers' work, in large part because I think it
helps me be a better writer. After evaluating someone else's document, I
can go back to my own, look at it with fresh eyes, and be a better
self-editor. Would I want to be a full-time editor? Probably not. While
I do think editing can be creative, it's obviously not the fully
creative act that *writing* is. Besides (ego kicking in), I just can't
see pointing to a document, or article, or book or whatever, and saying,
"yep, I edited that baby. It's all mine," 'cause it ain't really mine if
all I did is edit! Writing is clearly the critical function. I wasn't
the fourth person hired at this company because they thought they needed
a good editor! They needed somebody who could write. And maybe someday
we'll be a decent-sized company and we'll get our very own editor.

Lisa Wright
Technical Writer

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