Sunday, May 20, 2012

We Need Editors, Because by Changing a Few Words, You Can Make Big Changes in Meaning

Another part in the continuing series: Why the World Still Needs Editors

I’m in the process of moving, so I’ve had many encounters lately with hyperbole, or at least with the kind of non-understatement found in the little blurb that sits beneath the photo of a house in a real estate listing: “Truly delightful…brimming with charm & appeal!” “Pampered classic!” You get the idea.

Pretty cute, right?

When my house first went on the market, that little blurb said: “Enjoy living in the cutest home in Mac-Groveland!” It was hard for me to argue with that, although there might be one or two other homeowners in my neighborhood—between Macalester College and Groveland Park in St. Paul, MN—who might claim their houses rank just as high or higher on the cute scale.

Just this week, however, we re-listed after we put in some major improvements. Somehow, in the rush to squeeze in more blurb copy about the new carpet, dishwasher, and electrical service, the realtor left out the qualifier “in Mac-Groveland.”

Now, the copy says, “Enjoy living in the cutest home!” Not just in Mac-Groveland, not just in St. Paul, not just in Minnesota, not just on planet Earth. Change a few words, and without an editor on board, you’ve suddenly got the cutest house in the known universe…

Even though it bothers my editorial side, my heart almost wants to believe it’s true. And I’m only going to demand a revision if this doesn’t sell the place.

1 comment:

  1. It is the cutest home! But you're right about the importance of word choice. Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." So true.