Re: Author's Pride

Subject: Re: Author's Pride
From: Fabien Vais <phantoms -at- POP -dot- TOTAL -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 11:49:37 -0400

No, Yves, I do not believe everything I read, and I take the Chicago Manual
of Style's point of view very seriously. However, as I understand it, what
the CMS says is that the Technical Editor (let's stay in the field of
technical communication, shall we?) takes over THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE
DOCUMENT, not in any way the original authorship or the intent of the author.

It is true that once the final draft of the document is handed over to the
editor, the responsibility for the final stages of the document passes over
to the editor (editing, completeness, respect of corporate policies,
synchronization with graphics people, printing, blueprints, etc.). However,
in no way does this mean that the original author is "out of the picture".
On the contrary, I believe that editor and author must work together to
produce the best document they can. Also, when I say that "the author must
remain the author", I mean that it is wrong to change the original intent of
the author WITHOUT DISCUSSING IT WITH THE AUTHOR. This doesn't mean that the
editor has to ask for and negotiate every little correction, but when you
start rewriting large portions of text, or reorganizing whole sections of
the document, then I say you should at least discuss these things with the
author. In some cases, the author will probably give you carte blanche. In
other cases, the author will be upset about the major changes that you

You say < Any document which requires that one REWRITE the whole document,
or large portions of it reflects very poorly on whomever wishes to take
credit for it as an author. >. I disagree with this statement. Editing is to
a large extent subjective. Aside from typos, grammar, consistency, etc., all
style editing issues are subjective and often debatable. So, if you as an
editor feel the need to rewrite large portions of the text, or even scrap
the whole document and rewrite the whole thing, it could very well mean that
you are a lousy editor who is on an ego trip, and knows nothing about
editorial restraint.

Again, your role as technical editor is to take over THE PRODUCTION OF THE
DOCUMENT, not to change the document to the point where it no longer looks
like the original. And work with the writer/author to produce the best
document you (BOTH, JOINTLY) can.

I will now get off my soapbox and wait for the incoming flames. By the way,
I don't know where you got the idea that I'm a doctor, Yves, cause I'm just
a teacher and technical writer/editor. And could we stick with one language
at a time, if you don't mind.

Fabien Vais
phantoms -at- total -dot- net

At 10:57 AM 5/14/98 EDT, you wrote:
>Docteur Fabien Vais:
>Thank you for your kind CC of the msg to Janice Gelb. You wrote: < Everything
>I've read about technical editing (..) > <grin> Should one infer that you
>believe everything you read? The "Chicago Manual of Style" does indicate that
>the editor at some point take over. Votre distinction macro/micro me fait
>songer à la distinction de Mazaleyrat & Molinié entre figures
>macro/micro-structurales. Y a-t-il un parallèle?
>You add < I also strongly believe that the author of a document remains the
>author. > La récente traduction d'Eco ("Comment voyager avec un saumon", chez
>Grasset) offre plus d'une critique des modes d'emplois qui fustige
justement ce
>genre de chose. Any document which requires that one < REWRITE the whole
>document, or large portions of it > reflects very poorly on whomever wishes to
>take credit for it as an author.
>Just the truth.
>Yves Jeaurond
>The Jingle Tingle--Hear the sounds you want to hear, today.
>bilingual online help - indexing - software manuals - C++ - jingles
>1643 Boyer Road
>Gloucester, Ontario
>Canada K1C 3H6

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