----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: Righting Writers' Wrongs

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Righting Writers' Wrongs

I must say that I am a damn good copy editor. Yes, I occasionally miss a typo or a misplaced comma, but for the most part, I catch and fix just about every error a writer can insert into his or her writing. That's why I was on retainer as the copy editor for a local group of trade magazines. They didn't have anyone on staff who could do what I did.

But a week ago, I got word that my services would no longer be required. The publisher is spinning it as "budget cuts," but having worked with this publisher previously, it's my opinion that all he cares about is selling ads in the magazines. If we could print gibberish and still sell ads, he would fire the entire editorial staff in a heartbeat, I bet.

Anyway, after I got word, I went in one more time to do one last round of copy editing. Now, keep in mind that the copy I read has already been edited for content by at least one person. I'm there to catch the stuff that person misses. Unfortunately, the publications are so understaffed that the main editor misses a lot. (Again, this is the publisher's fault. Why spend money on more editorial staffers if you can sell plenty of ads with only a skeleton staff? Who cares about editorial quality? Not this publisher!)

A few of the more egregious examples:

"We were very careful just in case the Green Building Council didn't except all of the credits." (Accept! Why do so many people have trouble with homonyms?)

"It took a lot of coordination and detail orientated people." (Orientated? Is that even a word?)

"We designed the building to comply with the American's with Disabilities Act." (So the act applies to a single American?)

"The Commission blocked the state's permit request, sighting concerns of depreciating property values." (Again with the homonym confusion! It should be "citing." And what's with the weird capitalization?)

"Probation officials in Delaware State are on a mission to lower recidivism rates." (Let's see, the story already has a dateline that notes the location as Delaware. But gee, thanks for clearing up that confusion for me. Otherwise, I might have thought that Delaware was, I don't know, a country!)

And here are a couple of other great sentences that I culled from other instances when I went in to copy edit at these publications:

"Cost estimates to build the new courthouse are estimated at $40 million." (Really? The estimates are estimated?)

"The company recently announced the introduction of its newest product." (Yay! I love dull, overly verbose sentences!)

So there you have it. Instead of striving for excellence, this group of trade magazines seems to be aggressively striving to be below average. Way to take pride in your work product, people!


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