Listen to your Editors

Editors give hints and tricks to the trade and, more importantly, they have my back. They should never be taken for granted.

During the editing process they notice patterns in your writing. Make sure you listen closely to their changes and advice. They may be quiet on a few stories from time to time, but I’ve noticed that they don’t hold back when they see something they don’t want you doing again. What they say can help you for the rest of your career. When I’ve been told something, I write it down immediately. Editors don’t like to see the same mistake twice.

For example, I kept using gerunds in my stories too much.

The head editor Charlie made a joke about it one day while he was editing one of my stories. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but he was making fun of the word I chose and asked me what else I would put in instead. I chose a better word on the spot and everyone laughed it off. I wrote that down right after because I knew I would continue to make that mistake. Growing up, I remember gerunds in elementary school, but in journalism it’s a dangerous business. I’ve used gerunds in this piece and in stories in high school and college. I never thought twice about it.


via Columbia Journalism Review

Gerunds are tricky business, because in most cases they are identical to the present participle forms of the verbs they have “nouned.” (The shuttle is “launching” next week.) But as nouns, they usually have an article before them—“the launching”; “a posting”; “an ending”—making it easier to tell a noun from a verb.

A different time, I made the horrendous mistake of calling a board of finance a “they” instead of an “it.” Charlie again brought this to my attention. Unlike the first time, this one stuck in my head and I’m not sure why. I wrote it down, but it has still stuck with me ever since. I should have known that members are “they” and the board itself is an “it.” It’s a dumb mistake that I should have picked up on myself. I didn’t edit thoroughly and I, rightfully so, got called out for it. Usually, I reread my stories several times before “handing” them in.

The moral of the story here is to listen. You may not like being called out, but it will make your life easier in the long run. It’ll help your writing and improve your relationships with your editors.



2 Responses to Listen to your Editors

  1. Pingback: Take Criticism in Stride « Just Starting Out

  2. Pingback: Don’t Rush Yourself « Just Starting Out

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