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What Your Editor’s Notes Really Mean

If you’ve ever worked with an editor, you know that receiving a colorful track-changes-filled document back isn’t uncommon.

Some editors are straight to the point. Others can be a little too friendly and encouraging when tough love might work better.

In both cases, editors have their own little language with accompanying symbols. So it helps if you can interpret what they’re ACTUALLY saying and read between the lines. Having been brutally edited more times than I’d like to admit, I’m well-versed in editor speak.

So here’s my little guide to interpret what your editor actually means:

“Awkward, rephrase”

I’ve been a professional editor for [insert large number] years, and even I can’t fix this.

“It’s a good start, but…”

I liked the first word. Everything else sucked.

“Repetitive”

Come up with more than one original thought, please.

“Word choice?”

Read a dictionary, you half-wit illiterate.

“Are you sure about this?”

You can’t possibly have an opinion this stupid.

“Transpose these sentences.”

Did you mean for this article to be published in Hebrew?

“Do you have a source on this?”

Or do you just make crap up?

“Not following.”

You should try and connect two coherent thoughts together. It’s fun.

“I reworded this for you.”

I fix things that are broken, like your writing.

“Delete.”

This next paragraph looks long and, based on your previous paragraphs, I don’t feel like reading it.

“Break this paragraph up.”

Walls of text were acceptable in 3rd grade.

“Pay attention to [insert grammatical error here].”

I’ve fixed this same mistake 58 times last week. You better not be ACCEPTING ALL CHANGES without looking over them.

“Let’s get together to talk about this article.”

Find another editor. I can’t even…

***

Editors are your friends, I promise. And with this little guide, you now know how to interpret these unusual creatures.

Next time you see “awkward, rephrase,” you’ll know exactly what it means!

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29 Comments Post a comment
  1. pure huge

    Like

    February 13, 2015
  2. haha I love this

    Liked by 1 person

    February 13, 2015
  3. Love this blog. A few years ago I read 101 Great Books for College-Bound Readers. http://www.uhlibrary.net/pdf/college_board_recommended_books.pdf

    Like

    February 13, 2015
  4. As an editor, I approve!

    Like

    February 13, 2015
  5. Reblogged this on fifteenthousandpages and commented:
    In case you were wondering what editors REALLY think… Hah! Once again, Robert Bruce over at 101books just gets it right. Such a great blog to check out if you enjoy reading and writing and all that comes with it.

    Like

    February 13, 2015
  6. Reblogged this on Paul Karam Kassab.

    Like

    February 13, 2015
  7. Hi Robert

    hilarious, to the point, scarily accurate….I’m away to post this on my Writing from the Twelfth House Facebook Page! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 13, 2015
  8. Joy #

    This is hilarious.Will be reblogging.

    Like

    February 13, 2015
  9. Joy #

    Reblogged this on Tellin' it like it is… and commented:
    For any of you who have had an editor, have edited, or taught any kind of writing – here is your funny for the day courtesy of 101books.net.

    Like

    February 13, 2015
  10. “Unclear”

    I have absolutely no fucking idea what you mean.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 13, 2015
  11. Very funny.

    Like

    February 13, 2015
  12. Damn some of those hurt in light of my recent first professional edit.

    Like

    February 13, 2015
    • Don’t take it to heart. Lots of exaggeration in there too.

      Liked by 2 people

      February 13, 2015
      • No worries at all. I have come to realize you got to develop a thick skin in this writing business. It was a fun article to read.

        Like

        February 13, 2015
  13. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    It’s nice to have these things translated.

    Like

    February 13, 2015
  14. mariekevanmil #

    Haha, teachers will be teachers, even disguised as an editor 😀 ! Great post 😉 and indeed: tough love, so much more useful.

    Like

    February 13, 2015
  15. Reblogged this on Mytutorblog's Blog.

    Like

    February 14, 2015
  16. BAHAHAHA!!!! I love this. *When* I get an editor, I’ll be sure to refer back to this and try not to cry. 🙂

    Like

    February 14, 2015
  17. LOVE IT – Going to be reblogging this one.

    Like

    February 14, 2015
  18. Reblogged this on A Father, Writer, and Logistics Wizard and commented:
    This is hilarious. Must read for any writer struggling with a long list of red ink from your editor.

    Like

    February 14, 2015
  19. Reblogged this on miranshamal1.

    Like

    February 15, 2015
  20. I’m a freelance editor and I’ve used one or two of these phrases. My goal is to be honest but gentle. 🙂

    Like

    February 15, 2015
  21. Gracias por la guía.
    El día que, por fin, tenga que soportar y admitir las protestas de un editor, acto seguido, me iré a celebrarlo.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 15, 2015
  22. Reblogged this on Dungeons and Daniels.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 15, 2015
  23. shagun1593 #

    Reblogged this on Confessions of a novelist and commented:
    So True!!

    Like

    February 20, 2015
  24. Great post. The job of an editor is thankless but you try writing a novel!

    Like

    February 24, 2015

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