Re: Politeness in editing (was: When the thesaurus attacks...)

Subject: Re: Politeness in editing (was: When the thesaurus attacks...)
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 13:25:31 -0800

Edwyn Kumar wrote:

The purpose of an edit is to give the writer solid information on how to
increase the quality of their manuscript. Often, these suggestions can be
blunt, harsh, straight-forward and very hurtful from a personal standpoint,
but highly effective from a technical, grammatical and contextual
I'd rather have a brutal edit, a stellar manuscript and positive reviews, as
opposed to a kind edit, mediocre manuscript and brutal reviews!

That depends on whom you're dealing with. If you're reasonably sure that the writer you're editing is a professional whose main concern is the work and not his or her ego, then you're right.

However, speaking as someone who marked student papers for over ten years (doing somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 pieces of marking), I can tell you that, if you're not dealing with a professional, you're wasting your time if you don't make some effort to soften the comments. If you're blunt, non-professionals will often not make the corrections, and not learn from them.

For that matter, even professionals will accept the changes more readily if you explain them. "w/c: 'invoke'" may be brief, but all it really tells the writer is that the editor doesn't approve of it. As a writer, I would much prefer some explanation, if only "unfortunate connotations." That way, I can at least be sure that the editor knows what he or she is about, and isn't just indulging personal preferences. I assume that other writers may feel the same way about me when I'm playing editor, so I try to give them the same courtesy that I'd expect.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com

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Politeness in editing (was: When the thesaurus attacks...): From: Edwyn Kumar

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