Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Differences Of Opinion

In my last blog post, I presented a single sentence--"She stood by thinking silently"--and challenged my readers to play editor and change it. The responses have been interesting.

What would I have done if asked to edit the sentence? I would simply reverse the order of two words and add a comma for clarity: "She stood by silently, thinking." Why? First of all, in this case I'm an editor, not an author, so I don't want to depart too far from the words the author has already chosen. I just want the sentence to be more easily understood. Because thinking per se is always silent, that word doesn't need the modifier. Instead, I want to indicate that the woman remained silent as she thought. Thus, the change.

Some of you expanded the sentence. Some recast it, using different words to express the same meaning. A few of you changed the words around a bit or added punctuation to make the meaning more clear. And every one of you was right. That's the point I wanted to make. Some answers were better than others, but they all were clearer than the original sentence. And if the author agreed that the editor's suggestion made the sentence better or clearer, they'd accept it. Otherwise, the writer would mark the original sentence "Stet" ("let it stay") and let the editor know why they didn't want to accept the suggested change.

Since in this situation there was no "right" answer, I used a random number generator to choose a winner. If Bonnie Engstrom will email me at <Dr R L Mabry at yahoo dot com> with "blog post" in the subject line (to bypass my spam filter), you can choose any one of my eight books (one non-fiction, seven novels) as your prize. Give me your snail mail address and I'll get a signed copy on the way to you soon. And my thanks to the rest of you for your contributions. They were all good.

Have a comment about editing and word choice? Leave it below and we'll discuss it. And keep coming back. There might be another give-away in the offing.

(picture via freedigitalphotos.net)

1 comment:

shirley said...

Congratulations Bonnie! Thanks for this Richard, things like this keeps one on her toes.