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How do you edit?

Last updated on February 14, 2023

“How do you edit?” he asked.

Lately, prospective clients have been asking some interesting questions, often questions that I’ve never really thought of answers for. This was one I had to ponder.

Aside from my eye catching the usual typos and punctuation errors, there’s something strange that happens when I sit down to do a substantive edit. It sound strange to say this, but the words almost rearrange themselves. It’s almost as though every paragraph is a sliding puzzle: the pieces are usually there, but it’s my job to put them in the right order so that the picture makes sense.

As with any puzzle, some people struggle to make the pieces fit. Where some people just see disorganization in black and white, like an M.C. Escher puzzle, I can usually see the finished product. I just shuffle the parts around to get there.

I’m not sure what kind of answer he was expecting, but I’m pretty sure that an analogy to a sliding puzzle wasn’t it. But much like asking someone to explain walking or driving a car, editing is something that I do every day without giving it a lot of thought. It just happens.

I wonder if anyone else has a better explanation.

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