Re: How to edit constructively? (#134903)

Subject: Re: How to edit constructively? (#134903)
From: Bill Burns <wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 08:02:42 -0700

>I already know I have a tendency to edit first drafts in copious
>detail. I've heard that this is generally not a good idea, but I'm not
>sure where to draw the line. If I'm seeing bad sentence structure in a
>first draft, I'm inclined to point it out so that the writers know
>they are off on the wrong track from the beginning. Is this bad?

>Another point -- am I better off rewriting a sentence or parapraph to
>"show them how it's done," or should I just say, "this section is
>unclear, awkward, whatever; please rewrite it."? Clearly, it's
>time-consuming for me to rewrite their work, but it is also
>time-consuming to iterate endlessly in search of an unclear goal...

In my opinion, part of my job as a supervisor is to help my technical writers to
improve their skills (mostly entry-level technical writers, mind you). If I
were in the situation you describe, I would find a portion of the text that has
a high incidence of the errors that the writer typically commits. I would edit
that portion of the document alone and provide some comments indicating the
nature of the errors. Then I would meet with that writer and discuss the
problems with him or her, explaining that the edited portion contained errors
that commonly occurred throughout the rest of the document (although not all of
the errors). After explaining the appropriate guidelines or referring them to a
reliable source for those guidelines, I would leave the draft for the writer to
polish. I would also make clear that I would be happy to provide additional
editorial guidance if he or she had questions.

If it sounds like a rather academic approach to the situation, I plead guilty to
the allegation. This approach is the same method I used with many of my
students--often (but not always) with some measure of success.

Bill Burns
Assembly Training and Documentation Supervisor
wburns -at- micron -dot- com

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