Friday, December 17, 2021

I'm an editor and I'm OK

 An editor boasts that in a single shift I:

Item:  Eliminated a sentence-ending preposition.

Item: Changed like to such as

Item:  Gave data a plural verb instead of a singular. 

Item:  Changed convinced to persuaded.

Item: Changed since to because

Item: Changed a singular they to he or she

Item: Changed loaned to lent.

Item: Removed and from the beginning of a sentence. 

Item:  Eliminated a split verb.

Item: Changed over to more than

Item: Changed that to who in a reference to a group of people. 

Item: Gave none a singular verb instead of a plural.

Item: Changed careen to career.

Item: Changed hopefully to it is hoped that.

Item: Unsplit an infinitive.

Item: Removed however from the beginning of a sentence. 

Item: Changed collided to crashed


An experienced editor knows the why and wherefore of each of these changes, but you may be mystified. That's all right. Each of these changes, except in rare circumstances, does nothing to correct or improve the text. They are all editorial fetishes that have grown up over the years, permitting the belief that making these time-wasting and inconsequential changes is a badge of professional craft. 

I in my time have been responsible for most of them, and some of them I taught for years in my editing class, until I learned better. I've said elsewhere that I spent the first half of my career as an editor learning and the second half unlearning. Do not discount the benefits to the reader of your unlearning.