Editors SA members' meeting - Why did you change that?

Posted on: 25 March 2019

The first members' meeting of the year was held on Thursday 21 February at Intersect. Adele Anderson, Birgitt Olsen and Leanne Barry presented on the topic of 'Why did you change that?' - the fine art of identifying the rationale for making changes and justifying them to your client. All three are accustomed to both editing and being edited, and to clarifying the rationales for the changes they make. They covered three aspects of editing - copyediting, addressing overwriting and structural editing.

Adele began with a discussion of copyediting and its objective, which is not to rewrite but to make sure what has been written is correct, clear, consistent, concise, complete and cohesive (a list of 'c's to which 'in context' was later added). Using the example of a blog post (all examples throughout the evening were coffee-themed), Adele showed that changes to text can be justified for one of these reasons, but that if the editor can't identify which of them is the reason for a change, that change may not actually be justified, and might risk affecting the authors' voice.

Leanne then addressed the issue of editing overwritten text, using a piece of high-end advertising copy. She identified the characteristics of overwritten text and the flaws they tend to signify in the content (from an inexperienced writer trying to sound confident and impressive, to a lack of substance or a failure to invest in editing) and how editing can address them by identifying instances of repetition, tautology, unfortunate images, pomposity and insensitive phrasing, and editing them to produce a more readable text.

Finally, Birgitt addressed structural editing, deconstructing and rebuilding an instruction manual to not only show how arranging information in a logical, reader-centred way can improve the clarity, concision and cohesion of a document, but also (with Leanne's help) role-playing the process of convincing a client to accept more substantial edits than they might have initially anticipated. She emphasised the strategy of talking about what works in the document already before bringing up what needs to change, and showing the client what improvements the changes will make not only to the document, but also to their business and customers, to help them understand the rationale behind extensive edits.

The next members' meeting will be on 12 April 2019, at Intersect, and will be on to the topic of setting up your own editing business. It will be held during the lunch hour, so bring your lunch and join us if you can!

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Beyond the page

9th IPEd national editors conference

Melbourne, Australia
8-10 May 2019

Get all the details at iped2019.org.au

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