Edit Their Grammar, Not Personality

Posted by Hannah Lacy on Dec 10, 2015 6:00:00 AM

Voice-1.jpg

If you're a writer of any kind, you've probably had people asking you to edit their work since high school. Will you edit my essay? Will you edit my resume? Will you help with this case study? If you're weird (like me), this makes you all excited about checking for grammatical issues and word flow and all of the little nuances that might make that one essay shine. But hold up.

Don't edit the person out of their own essay.

It's so easy, especially as a writer who has their own tone of voice and style, to edit the original author right out of their work. But it'll be so much better if I can just change this one...entire...paragraph!

Stop it.

You don't need to edit the entire paragraph. Take a deep breath, and check for grammar. If a sentence doesn't make sense (at all) highlight it and ask the author about it later. Odds are, they can explain it in person better than they did on paper. That's enabling the author (your boss, coworker or friend) to express themselves, rather than guessing what they meant and putting it in your own words. Even if the person whose piece you are editing has poor grammar and a tone of voice you wouldn't choose, it's their tone of voice, and that's what is important. This is counter-intuitive for a lot of writers, but think of it this way.

This is a skill you can use and develop, and it's invaluable.

How can you reuse this skill? Well, imagine you're interviewing someone. Maybe they have this raw, rough around the edges personality that you want to convey. Maybe they use slang in such a way that it captures your attention. What if you listen to all of their nuances, and it falls flat in your article later?

They end up sounding just like you, and everything you write ends up sounding the same.

That's not a good place to be for any writer. It will take work, allowing each personality to stay put even though you've made edits, but if you can pull it off, it will inspire others with more than your personality, but the personality of each person whose experience, opinion and story you convey. And everyone loves a good story.

Hannah Lacy

Written by Hannah Lacy

Originally from Payette, Hannah started working for Tribute Media in late 2014. Previously, she helped manage two Christian nonprofits aiding individuals in poverty. Hannah is proud to be part of the Tribute team: "I enjoy the atmosphere and the attitude that every day should be about learning. There is a wonderful focus on education and improvement to benefit both our employees and our clients." She loves Boise because of the friendly people and the opportunities to explore nature. A big Charles Dickens fan, her favorite novel is A Tale of Two Cities. Biggest guilty pleasure: "Donuts. I never pass up a donut of any kind. Except the ones with custard or cherry filling-that's just a waste of a donut."

Please Leave a Comment: