Soniah Kamal

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'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Tribute to Copy Editor Helene Pleasants

Sometimes people touch us, teach us in ways that stay with us always. Finding a teacher, a mentor, a guide, someone willing to take their time to lead you through a labyrinth you might take forever to get out of, if at all, is to seriously luck out. What My Editor Taught Me is a lovely piece written by a writer about one such copy editor.

'Helene had no literary theories — she had literary values. She valued clarity and transparency. She had nothing against style, if it didn’t distract from the material. Her blue pencil struck at redundancy, at confusion, at authorial vanity, at the wrong and the false word, at the unearned conclusion. She loved good writing, therefore she loved the reader: good writing did not cause the reader to stumble over meaning. By the time Helene was finished with me seven years later, I knew how to read a sentence and how to fix one. I knew what a sentence was supposed to do. I began to write my own sentences; needless to say, the responsibility for them is my own.'
read rest of NYTBR here


1 comment:

Serena Thomson said...

A copy editor makes sure that an author's raw text, or copy, is correct in terms of spelling and grammar and is easy to read so that readers can grasp his or her ideas.



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