13 October, 2015

Radical Editing

I'm doing some radical editing today. This article I received for the magazine has bamboozled me. Unfortunately I thought it was the topic (which isn't super familiar to me), but it turns out that the organisation of the writing was a bigger problem.

I printed out a copy of the article yesterday and cut it up into paragraphs, threw them onto the floor and then I randomly read them one-by-one and wrote a single topic on each one. I then assembled them into like-piles and put them into a logical order The last step was sticking them together again.

I learned about this radical type of editing from a book, The Layers of Magazine Editing by Michael Robert Evans. I've never used this technique before, but I will use it again if necessary, even on my own writing. 

Both David and I (I consult him periodically when bamboozled by articles) were previously confused as to the main point, but after this disassembling and reassembling (on the floor while my boys watch Tron in the same room), I could easily tell him the main point.

This morning I've transferred the order into a document on my computer and I can see the re-ordering of the paragraphs has revealed a lot of repetition. Without trying to cut words, I've reduced it by about 200 words.

My next big challenge will be to present this back to the author without him getting upset that I've "ripped apart his baby". I'm hoping that he'll see that what I've done makes it more accessible to the reader.


Georgia said...

Can't wait.

Wendy said...

Should be mostly sorted by the time you get it, Georgia :D

Caroline said...

I'm working on a piece of my own writing at the moment, that I almost think I need to do that with! It's a fairly complex task, and I've managed to complicate it further. But I'll press on electronically rearranging it for now. I have found that printing it out and seeing it on paper helps, even without cutting it up.