Recently, I sent a sample of my work to a professional proof-reader/editor out of curiosity. What could she do? It was an interesting exercise. I didn’t agree with all the changes the editor made, but I really liked what she did.

Here are the before and after versions.

BEFORE

Combine the world’s most delicious cheese sandwich (trade-marked) with drug and alcohol-fuelled hunger, and a soft-hearted, impulsive gesture and there you have it. The basis for a romance. Who’d have thunk it?

Nell and Daniel Murray met at university – that is to say, Nell was a student at university and Daniel was a 20-year-old young entrepreneur who had figured out that the students who occasionally wandered off course and into his Glasgow High Street deli shop for gourmet sandwiches might appreciate the closer availability of those sandwiches at other times. Times such as a Thursday night, post the weekly disco held in the union hall.

Daniel persuaded his father to lend him the money to buy a cheap van. He then converted the van to a mobile sandwich-making and preparing venue, and he parked outside the union hall every Thursday from 10pm. At that time, he targeted the swotty students who weren’t prepared to sacrifice study time on a Friday for a hangover.

As the night progressed though, sales rose dramatically. Daniel had always been a practical person. He couldn’t understand why students wouldn’t reason to themselves that they were only yards from their student halls and bedsits so why not conjure up their own sandwiches at tiny costs to themselves?

As he said to his Thursday night sandwich assistant, “ours is not to reason why”, congratulating himself on the high-brow sound of the phrase which seemed imminently suitable for the university setting. Not reasoning why left him to enjoy raking in money as leery students crowded around the van and demanded sandwiches, often two at a time.

Nell wasn’t a frequenter of the Thursday night disco. Not because she was a swotty type – though she had progressed well in her studies so far – but because she loathed not being able to hear herself think and being chatted up by drunken morons. Her words, not theirs.

AFTER

Combine the world’s most delicious cheese sandwich (trademarked) with drug and alcohol-fuelled hunger, and a soft-hearted, impulsive gesture. And what do you have? The basis and foundation of a budding romance. Who would have thought it?

Nell and Daniel Murray met at university – that is to say, Nell was a student at the university and Daniel was a 20-year-old young entrepreneur. He had figured out that the students, who occasionally wandered off course and into his Glasgow High Street deli shop for gourmet sandwiches, might appreciate its closer availability at other times…times, such as a Thursday night, post the weekly disco held in the union hall.

Daniel persuaded his father to lend him the money to buy a cheap van. He then converted the van to a mobile sandwich-making venue. He parked outside the union hall every Thursday, 10 PM onwards. This was the time he targeted the swotty students, who weren’t prepared to sacrifice their study time on a Friday, for a hangover.

As the night progressed, the sales rose dramatically. Daniel had always been a practical person; he couldn’t understand why the students wouldn’t reason to themselves that they were only yards away from their student hall and bedsits and could easily conjure up their own sandwiches at a marginal cost?

As he conveyed this to his Thursday night sandwich assistant, he retorted that “ours is not to reason why” and congratulated himself on the high-brow sound of the phrase, which seemed imminently suitable for the university setting. Not reasoning why, allowed him to enjoy raking in the money, as leery students crowded around the van and demanded sandwiches, often two at a time.

Nell wasn’t a frequenter of the Thursday night disco; not because she was a swotty type – though she had progressed well in her studies, so far. In fact, it was because she loathed not being able to hear herself think and being chatted up by drunken morons – her words, not theirs!

 

Pic thanks to Nic McPhee.

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3 thoughts on “Editing – the Difference

  1. Boy, is that interesting! Sorry, Emma, but I think your editor has improved it. Unfortunately, now I think your edited version needs further editing! It’s certainly not perfect.

    I had to put the two documents alongside each other to get the true effect. I think there’s a danger that your editor is writing in her own voice rather than editing or improving yours – it’s your book, not hers. I didn’t like ‘thunk’ either, for instance, but whether it’s right or wrong is really a matter of taste: the word simply doesn’t exist. She then goes on to ‘correct’ a lot of stuff that I think would have been better left alone. For all that, it’s well worth doing for every last sentence in the book. The more attention and care you can give at this stage, the happier you’ll be in the long run.

    And that’s a horrible mistake that your editor’s made in the second-last paragraph – at least the first comma shouldn’t be there, probably each of the first two. Yours was perfect. Why on earth feel the need to change? (Scratches head)

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