Thursday, March 1, 2012

Editors Matter Because “Little Things” Matter

Part 6 in the continuing series: Why the World Still Needs Editors

Contrary to widely held belief (among my kids at least), “little things” like distinguishing it’s from its and you’re from your are NOT esoteric or out-dated. I’d also venture to say that “little things” like using the English language correctly and precisely are pretty important too.

Two quick examples:

#1. Although fortune cookie fortunes and stories are meant to be thought-provoking, they probably should also make sense. Think of it as a sort of Hippocratic Oath for editors and writers: “I will prescribe stories for the good of my readers according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone by writing perfectly meaningless and befuddling text.”

Above is the fortune cookie I got last weekend, while visiting family in Southern Indiana. Yes, you heard it here first: 

Failure is the path of lease persistence.

I’m still trying to decide if it’s incomprehensible or just too deep for me.

#2. Had a certain U.S. Army recruiter been clear on when to use, and not use, contractions, my entire life might have taken a different course. Here’s what he wrote in a letter I received shortly after my high school graduation:

Dear Gwenyth,
I think we have what your looking for.

Think of it as the road not taken. Or the road in need of a good editor.


  1. I am confident the holders of the opinion will see the day when they realize they should have paid attention to details. I hope you enjoyed your visit and found all well. I hardly ever see your parents. I should get out more!

  2. Would you really have joined the Army?? I somehow can't picture you in a helmet. But stranger things have happened!