The Joys of Editing

I get to play games for a living. Editing is an endless game of “Can You Find the {the} Mistake?”— and it’s as satisfying as finding Waldo in the overcrowded picture. Some mistakes make me sad for the writers, but some blunders incite joyous chortles. From my Editor’s Desk of Hard Knocks come a few writing tips and Word Police infractions.

Everyone is vulnerable to the embarrassing misspelled word. Without exception, writers (and pavement painters) should not consider the work finished until someone else proofreads it.

English is a crafty language. Don’t be ashamed to look up the simplest words. Would you know to choose the simple solution, which is trouble-free, or the simplistic solution that is unsophisticated and crude?

Words that sound alike can be difficult for writers. Washington’s play on words in the “Give ‘em a BRAKE” traffic sign causes me to break and ponder its brilliance — literally and figuratively.

English is a living language, so I worry that some word inventions may one day become legal.

Will we see wordage (aka verbiage), visitable (aka accessible), TV’d (aka inspected by camera), and callouted (aka called out) in Webster’s Dictionary one day?

Engineered Words (as I fondly refer to them) are nouns disguised as verbs, because the author added ing or ed. Violations include barking the landscape, exhausted restrooms, sprinklering buildings, as-builting record drawings, and cul-de-sac’d streets.

KISSing is allowed in this office as a reputable business writing practice. Keeping It Simple and Straightforward respects the reader’s time and risks fewer editing infractions.

Finally, finding the perfect closing to a well-written letter is a struggle for many authors. Writers offer free feels to their readers (as in “feel free to call if you have questions”). There are no free feels in this office, and it seems to be a scandalous option for suggesting a time to discuss the reader’s questions. Keeping the closing professional is also a challenge for writers. “Sincerely” covers the closing much more professionally than the tugging of heartstrings with “very truly yours.”

Editing is generally a serious job, and we do our best as editors to catch the {the} mistakes before they become embarrassments or legal liabilities. The editing process requires due diligence in proofreading for correct word choices, grammar, spelling, and consideration of the readers’ time. Editing is crucial to the image of professional firms like Reid Middleton, and happily there is great enjoyment in the editing process when you know where to look.

Image credits:
“Can you find the the mistake?”
“Give ‘Em a Brake”
Hot pink lips
“English Is Our Language”