What the Old Editor says
For the past several days I’ve been tweeting the aphorisms of The Old Editor, some of them my own, some of them adapted from my own Old Editors. I’ve gathered them here for you, with some additions.
The Old Editor says:
When you have to trim an article to fit, take out the dumbest stuff first.
The people kvetching about the new editing software never mastered the old editing software either.
The more a page looks like a dog's breakfast, the more it will attract praise for innovative design.
Can't be cut? Son, I could cut the Lord's Prayer.
If you write "in the wake of" something, that something had better be a boat.
Before you heave that goat-choker over the fence, check to see if there's a page that can accommodate it.
I don't buy on spec.
Giving a reporter a thesaurus is like giving a toddler a loaded handgun.
Whenever you see a percentage, fire up your calculator.
Why do I still have to remind you? If your mother says she loves you, check it out.
The next time you use "to die for" in copy, we can make that happen.
Dammit, if you think you're a professional, you should know that a hyphen isn't the same as a dash.
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." 10-word lead. What've you got that needs more?
The AP Stylebook is a set of guidelines, not Heilige Schrift or a substitute for editorial judgment.
If you are your own editor, you’re working without a net.
Mistakes will lurk in the big type.
If you can’t tell me in one sentence what your story says, you don’t know what your story says.
The reader doesn’t care how hard you worked on that story.
Be suspicious of all one-sentence injunctions about writing and editing.