Posts tagged ‘mad writing skilz’

August 17, 2011

Edit the world …

… let them know what grammar is. (With apologies to Bob Geldof/Midge Ure.)

So, in my quest to eradicate incomprehensible writing everywhere, I’ve signed up as a volunteer editor on Kibin. People submit all manner of files that need a quick read and using a somewhat coarse interface, editors mark up the text and submit it back with some comments to the author. It’s not a money maker … though I suppose there is some potential to eventually underwrite a grande latte at Starbucks, but that’s certainly not why I do it.

I’ve edited what was probably a 12-year-old’s project on the events leading up to Bastille day, a cover letter to a prospective employer, and a marketing pitch for a videographer … all horrendously written (well, the cover letter wasn’t too bad) and I gotta say, it’s a great feeling to absolutely know without a shred of doubt that someone somewhere will encounter a written document that isn’t a complete assault on their sensibilities. Because an editor stepped in and wrestled that hot mess into coherency. And that editor was me. And it could be you. Give it a try if you’re so inclined. It’s a spare time, just for fun kind of thing to do while you help make the written world a better place! : )

July 28, 2011

They’ll Never Know

As editors of written copy and report presentation, our job is to be invisible and help the author shine. Sure, we could let a badly capitalized headline go out and 99% of the readership probably wouldn’t consciously notice. But we notice, and we know the report has more authority when small details like have been corrected.

And therein lies some of the frustration of having a career in financial services in such a role. This business, like any other business, is results oriented. Quantified. But for the multitude of us who work on the support side, making direct sales or getting a client to pay for our efforts isn’t an option. Yet we make a solid contribution to the final product and sometimes, I think, our role is wildly misunderstood, if not outright overlooked.

By ensuring that proper disclosures are in place every single time, we might have saved the company a headache with the regulators and possibly a steep fine. But that’s what they pay us to do, right? We know that.

Or we might have caught a valuation metric that was an anomaly in the comp table, questioned the analyst, and requested some clarification in the text. Or simply done the math and discovered the target wasn’t matching up. This kind of observation and intervention can help the analyst side-step the awkwardness of having the sales desk or a client scratching their heads asking, what the heck? But what’s it worth?

And sure, we might have helped the company avoid a million-dollar lawsuit by rephrasing an analyst’s pro-oil diatribe against an aboriginal leader who was backtracking on development plans … but by the time the report hits the wires, nobody knows we did that. Or really cares.

Or we tweaked a graphic just a few points higher to better position it in the story, maybe cropped out some extraneous noise, changed a font style/size, searched a source on the web. All important details, all contributing to the polished look of the finished project, perhaps even helping build an analyst’s ranking, yet all necessarily covert.

These little details matter A LOT to us, even if we know that few end-users consciously notice or even realize at all that deliberate thought has been put into every.single.thing. And sure, stuff can slip past our notice as well … but the dread upon realizing that has happened is — whew — at least somewhat mitigated in this day and age by the ease of making a correction and reposting the file. Nobody dies, right? so try to keep some perspective will ya?! : )

I guess this ramble is all by way of saying, keep the faith fellow editors. What we do matters, even if it’s invisible!

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