Your Editing Stories: A Reluctant Editor

Today we launch a new series written by . . . you! If you have a story about your editing life, send it to us here and we’ll consider it for posting. Gael Spivak works in communications for the Government of Canada. She specializes in plain language writing and editing. Gael sent us her editing story.

“Dos and Don’ts”: Just Don’t

We’ve all read those bossy directives from advice mongers: “Do rock a ripped T with a bright floral skirt.” “Don’t chew gum during an interview.” “Do practice blending eyeshadow with your brush.” “Don’t yank electrical cords from the wall.” Aside from being either fatuous and trendy or obvious and unhelpful, such lists actually pose some editorial dangers.

Helen Sword talks about trimming your prose with The Writer’s Diet

CMOS: How did you come to think about writing as “flabby”? HS: Many years ago, I read Richard Lanham’s book Revising Prose, which influenced me deeply as a writer. Lanham teaches you to identify the “lard factor” in your writing, based on the percentage of words that you could omit without significantly changing its meaning. The Writer’s Diet follows similar principles, but with