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The value of editing.

Yes, I mean the editing in the traditional sense, where someone looks at words that you write and gives you feedback on them. At the very least pointing out homonyms that the spell checker didn’t notice.

This blog is inspired by an article I read today in an online news journal. The author suggested that we “search for visual queues” in a dark room. That would seem to be very odd advice, to search a dark room for a line of people waiting for something. Then I realized we probably were actually looking for ‘cues’.

I’m not perfect. I’m sure my blog has mistakes. But there are levels of care that need to be taken that vary depending on the publication and distribution of a piece of writing. Your Facebook status? The odd typo is no big deal. Most people are typing from a smart phone keyboard of 2.5 inches, we almost expect errors. A blog? Well, its nice when you get all the words right, but if you don’t, your audience is likely to be forgiving, depending on your readership following.

If you’re publishing something that calls itself a Business Magazine? I don’t care if you’re all online all the time or not. That is no excuse for not having someone on staff who reads things before they are published to catch the most egregious of errors.

But for some reason, the expense I’m certain, editing has fallen out of fashion. I’m a voracious reader and the more recently a book was published, the more likely it is that there will be some fairly serious mistakes in word usage or placement or maybe that the story just plain needed some tightening up.

Self publishing is no excuse. There are plenty of people in the world perfectly capable of doing a freelance editing job for you. I’m on my second book with the 3rd sitting in my dropbox waiting for my schedule to open up.

So please, if you’re publishing anything more serious than a blog, or if your blog has a readership of more than 100 people on a regular basis, for pity’s sake, please have someone, anyone literate really, read it before it goes public. Your spouse, your buddy, your kid, just anyone.

Because no matter how interesting your subject, your badly structured sentences and your incomprehensible grammar is going to get in the way of me caring.

‘Are’ going to get in the way. See what I mean?

Comments

  1. I think part of it is that people truly do not grasp grammar anymore. How many people would understand passive language, split infinitives, serial commas, and dangling participles? How many know not to start a sentence with a conjunction. Or even what a conjunction is. (I did that on purpose). Very few understand proper use of semi colons. The grammar standards of the populace have dropped, and therefore so have the editing standards. At least, that’s my take on things.

    • I absolutely agree that the grammar standards of the general populace have plummeted. I personally had very little grammar training in school and people younger than me are getting much less. To be honest, I had to go look up ‘dangling participle’ to see which grammatical sin it refers to. But I still know better than to use one.
      Now, its obvious in my writing that I approve of a certain amount of relaxation in the strict rules of grammar. Much writing at this point, particularly in blogs and online, must be conversational, and strict grammar complicates that. We don’t speak perfectly grammatically. But that’s no excuse for the inability to choose your word correctly, or the complete lack of coherence in thought progression.
      That’s what concerns me so much. Many people can’t assemble a coherent argument or explanation and put it down in a readable form. That’s a serious problem.