Re: How to edit constructively?

Subject: Re: How to edit constructively?
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 Mar 1996 13:50:48 -0800

At 09:57 PM 2/28/96 GMT, 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?

>Some background: I am an engineer turned tech writer; I am managing
>three writers who are all writing software documentation. All three
>writers are also technical people turned writers.

Rather than concentrating on "improving" the writing styles of the
writers and supplying constructive criticism, why don't you approach
the problem as developing consistency within the writing team and
developing a corporate style. While you'll be doing the same thing
(essentially), you won't have to point fingers at good or bad, only
different -- and you won't be "improving", only homogenizing. This
can help take a lot of the "ego" sting away from the change.

Some strategies you can use in the process include:

Developing templates for different types of information
(for example a conceptual chapter should have these
elements in this order)

Developing a style guide (words to use/not use, where
to put commas and where to leave them out, boilerplate
phrases, constructions to avoid, etc.)

Brainstorming content sessions to give each team member
a voice in the outline of a book or manual set

I think you'll find the process much easier to approach this way. You
look more the hero than the heavy. And you'll probably find less
defensive attitiude in your path.

Just a thought...
-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

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