This semester I’ve had the agony of taking my required writing 381 course, also known as technical and professional editing. As an editor on Wattpad for over 2 years, I figured I’d not only love, but ace this class with no problem. Currently I’m riding on a low B average–one of the highest grades in the class.
Long story short, I believe that my average is so low because we’re using outdated methods, such as editing in print instead of online, etc. One of these other issues is querying.
In my own words, I’d define querying as adding comments or “queries” to ask the author questions and offer them suggestions. Mainly, you must use an extremely nice tone. “Please consider switching these two sentences.” And so on.
Now, while I believe it is crucial to ask the author about fact checks and so on, but if you’re going to rewrite a sentence or do something else small? I don’t think they’re needed. Here is why.
One of the number one rules in editing is “do no harm” to the manuscript. This was a good rule to live by, but not for today’s generation of new writers. I’ve edited for probably 100+ people in 2 years. Trust me, they do not care about harm. These authors want me to murder their stories, no questions asked. I even had a user last month ask me why I left certain sentences of her story the way they were!
The only time I had anyone question my edits was 2 years ago. Just one, single user. That’s it.
I think this change has occurred because we live in such a convienient world. Teens today don’t even need to leave the couch to order a pizza, or even wait for dial up Internet to check their email. They don’t want to do more work.
I was even frustrated a few years ago as a freshman. I was an opinion writer for my college newspaper. My editors would leave a bunch of comments on my articles, many telling me to “add a comma” or something else menial. Of course this would seem annoying to someone. They were editors in paid positions, and I felt like it was their job to fix my work. All they did was tweak a few words and fill my page with comments.
If we do this today, with these new generations, expect a lot of frustration. Editors should just be allowed to fix the content without filling up a page of suggestions. The writers don’t want to go back and fix it. They want it done one time, because they’re paying you as the editor to do so.
Bottom line: less queries. More editors doing what we love to do: fix things.