AN EDITING EXAMPLE: BAD VS. GOOD
On the heels of the previous post on editing lessons, Howard Oberg asked me to provide "some examples of bad vs. good." In Howard's own words: "As a noob writer sometimes I don't even know crap writing if it hit me in the face." I asked Howard if he'd like to serve as a lab rabbit in this exercise. He agreed: "A chance to be humiliated before the masses. Sure, why not." We sealed the deal with coffee, and below you will find the opening to Howard's short story Cortonia—first the unedited version, then the edited version (with my comments), then a mini editorial letter, the kind I usually send to my clients. Here we go. (Howard, breathe. It's okay. I won't kill you. YET.)
"CORTONIA" BY HOWARD OBERG (ORIGINAL)
“Good morning Daniel. It’s time to get up. The temperature outside is 42 degrees. Today’s forecast is for partly cloudy skies and a high of 64. I have already warmed the house to 72 degrees and your coffee is brewing.” Daniel rubs his eyes and sits up. “Thank you Cortonia”
Daniel picks up his Personal Assistant Device off his night stand and checks his messages. “Cortonia, leave another message with my mother that I will attend Johnny’s Birthday party. I wished she would get a decent PAD so that it would let her know when I leave a message.” “Yes Daniel. And Daniel, I need to install a new patch. It is marked urgent, may I proceed?”, says Cortonia’s disembodied voice. “Uh, no. Do it later.” “Of course, later.” Cortonia responds.
Daniel gets up and heads to the bathroom. He does his business then walks over to sink and begins brushing his teeth. A small female avatar appears in the corner of his bathroom mirror. “Daniel, don’t forget you have that big meeting with your boss today. This could be the day when you get that promotion you deserve. I recommend your gray suit with your red tie and light blue shirt.” Daniel mumbles, “Um, hum.”
Daniels takes a shower then begins dressing in his dressing room. “Daniel, I ordered you some milk, you were almost out. I also sent your new girlfriend flowers to commend your three-month anniversary. See seems to be the needy type, not like Marsha, your last girlfriend. She was much more stable.” Daniel pulls out a pair of shoes from his closet. “And she slept around. A lot.”
Read the full story here (so my suggestions and edits below make sense).
"CORTONIA" BY HOWARD OBERG (EDITS IN BOLD, COMMENTS IN ITALICS)