RE: An Editor's Role...To Punish the Writer?

Subject: RE: An Editor's Role...To Punish the Writer?
From: "Wilcox, Rose (ZB5646)" <Rose -dot- Wilcox -at- pinnaclewest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 14:12:10 -0700

I've only worked with professional editors in a few instances; each instance
I did find helpful. Other times I have been edited by my project lead or
peers. I did not always find each edit correct, but I found them all
helpful. It helped me think about what I wanted to say and whether or not I
was correct. It also helped me clarify *why* I was correct. Nothing, for
instance, is more foundational in my clear understanding of comma use than
the edits I got from my project lead. They sent me scurrying to my
reference books in search of backup. :-)

The problem I had with editing was as a manager of a tech writing group. We
didn't have the luxury of true editors, so for a quality check we used peer
editing. I had a hard time getting the writers to truly keep their edits at
a format and correctness level and not mess with the tone and style of
another writer's work. As long as the style stayed within certain standards
(active voice, etc.) and the sentences are understandable, I do not touch
the writer's style. However, many writers had difficulty making the
distinction. The best I could do was let the writer who had been edited
know that such comments are optional, leading to an ambiguous situation at

I hope professional editors for the most part know where to draw the line.
Secondly, it sounds like some of the problems experienced by Worzel have to
do with management, rather than editing. The process should allow editors
and writers to work as a team, improving the writing *before* it is seen by
eyes outside of the TWing department. If a writer has consistent difficulty
writing to standard, the editor should take it to a manager, who can handle
it in the most diplomatic way.

In terms of a tone of terseness, that is a personality issue. When I edit,
I tend to slant my edits for my audience. So if I am editing a junior, I do
a lot more exposition and explain *why* I am making the changes, and even
make little jokes. If I am editing a senior, the gloves come off. If I am
editing my boss, that's a whole different enchilada baby. Maybe the terse
tone was more of a compliment than you think. Or maybe it's just the
editor's personality coming through.

The best thing to do is go ahead and feel the feelings, then go back and
look at the edits. In time you can clean up your copy, even in a short time
frame, just by being aware of the editor's peccadillos as you write. So the
next draft you turn in, even if your deadline is unmanageable, might be less
marked up. The editors becomes a kind of audience in and of themselves.
Which might or might not be a good thing, but if that's what my employer
wants, that's what they gets....

Peace like a river,
Rosie Roro Wilcox

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