Re: How to edit constructively?

Subject: Re: How to edit constructively?
From: Susan Seifert <sseifert -at- FAIRFIELD -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 21:18:46 -0700

At 9:33 PM 3/4/96, Valerie J. Archambeau wrote:
>At 3:57 PM 2/28/96, Glenda Jeffrey wrote:
>>Can anyone post some suggestions on how to edit a writer's work so
>>that you help the writer to improve? That is, what is the best way
>>to supply constructive criticism?

I've always tried to be a friendly mentor, at the same time have the writer
do their own rewrites.

I assume that you have a style guide since you have more than one writer on
the project (Even if you write solo, if you have a memory like mine you'll
need a style guide!) In any case, I'd correct one of each error example for
them, give them a manual that's written in the acceptable company style and
a copy of the style guide. Then I'd go over their work with them briefly,
pointing out just what you want (e.g. second person active voice) and where
their draft wanders from that. In the future, I'd mark up their work with
one- or two-word references, such as 'passive voice' or 'write instructions
as numbered steps.' If their draft has lots of errors, I'd stop reviewing
it, point out the major flaws that seem to be throughout the draft, and
have them rewrite it before I review further.

Sometimes it seems easier to just correct it and get it *done*. But IMHO,
that always creates laziness in the person whose work you're reviewing.
They come to expect you to fix it for them. I've found it more effective to
send it back to them for the rewrite.

Last but not least, (actually first) I try to always start a review with
all I can think that is positive about the writer's work. There always is
something good, and usually quite a bit. It can be easy to forget to praise
in our desire to make things perfect on our tight deadlines, but it makes
people feel better about their work, and makes the work and learning
environment much easier.

Hope this helps.


sseifert -at- fairfield -dot- com

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