Re: Independent Editors

Subject: Re: Independent Editors
From: infinity<infinity -at- yourhead -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 15:13:11


Christi wrote:

>Hi...
>
>While I used to think that way, at my last job I was amazed at how useful a
>real editor can be. First, when there are multiple writers in a department,
>a single editor (or group of editors) can help keep usage consistent. Usage
>of company style and general style things.
>But also, good editors are generally very detail oriented and very
>knowledgable about the english language. I have learned so much from having
>an editor.
>I think the best editors are ones that have done writing at some point.
>An admin will not usually know grammar rules, rules of sentence structure,
>and other things. Editor can also help with structure of a document (early
>on in the life cycle). Those are things an admin can't do.
>If all you need is a glorified spell-checker, the admin might do (but not
>always even in that case).
>I'm a little concerned myself right now because i am the only writer at my
>job. My manager is not as good at editing as a I am. So I'm not sure what
>to do about editing. I might be looking into a contract editor.
>Unfortunately, I'm not describing it well right now. But there is just so
>much more that goes into editing than most people realize.
>
>Tony replied:
>
>Christi:
>
>I see your points. However, other editors have responded to my question by
>stating that the primary tasks of an independent editor are audience
>analysis, document organization, ensuring correctness &amp; comprehensiveness,
>and other things that are either done in conjunction with or are an output
>of an end user task analysis. This is where I am still confused.

>Quite frankly, all the editors that I know or have read about spend very
>little, if any, time with end users (or even SMEs). They do not perform a
>task analysis. What is real?
>

Christi writes again:

Well, one thing I've learned from being on this list is just how much
diversity of opinions there is on just about every topic. Alas, this
one is no different.

Personally, I don't see how an outside (contract) editor do audience
analysis. I could see a staff editor doing this and can see how this
fits into the definition of editor that I have. But I think this is
usually done by the writer. The editor might have input, but I would
expect writers to analyze the audience befor they start writing.

But audience analysis and user task analysis are different too. Again,
though, I'm not sure how much editors could initially give toward user
task analysis. I would expect this to be done with the writer, the
team, the SME.
Once those things are more defined (though not completely), editors can
review document organization, as well as ensuring comprehensiveness.
I think having an 'unbiased' view is a great way to come with ideas,
thoughts, issues, etc. that weren't thought of by thoseon the team.

Alhtough correctness might be another issue. I would not expect a contract
editor to be able to review a doc for correctness. How are they supposed
to know the material. I think one of the reasons they are a great
resource is that they _don't_ know the material, so they have a fresh,
unbiased view of the docs.

And although my views might differ from someone else's, I think we might
all agree that it takes more than an admin.

Christi Carew
Technical Writer
Sage Instruments
Freedom, CA 95019
www.sageinst.com





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