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Note to my readers: John, the former editor of AskTog, had asked that I provide him a small amount of space he could use to teach you something about editing. So here it is. --tog

The Vital Role of Editors

By John Scribblemonger, Editor-in-Chief

Writers, for some unfathonable reason, seem to resent editors. This is peculiar, since all we do is apply our superior skills at spelling, punctuation, syntax, style and writing in general, all to make the writer look good. Change a single word of their precious prose, no matter how unintelligible that prose might be, and they throw an instant hissy-fit.

Let's take a case in point. Tog. A lot of people think Tog can write. And he can, as long as he has a really good editor. His editor is why you'll find this site so delightful to traverse (if I do say so myself). However, let's take a peek at what Tog comes up with when he's on his own.

Tog was recently awarded yet another patent for something he entitled a " Paging device with ability to automatically connect by telephone a person initiating a page request to the person paged." Now there's a nice short, readable appellation, isn't it. It gets worse. Here's the abstract:


A paging system communicatively connects a first user initiating a page request using a first telephone to a second user receiving the page request using a second telephone. The paging system includes a paging service transmitter transmitting the page request, and a paging device. The paging device includes a page receiver receiving the page request as a first signal, and a first identification device. The first identification device receives the first signal indicating that the page request was received, and includes an identification transmitter for transmitting a second signal indicating that the second user is ready to be communicatively connected. The paging system includes a second identification device, and receives the second signal transmitted by said first identification device. The second identification device transmits a third signal including a destination number corresponding and addressable to the second telephone. The paging system further includes a page locator device receiving notification of the page request from the first user and receiving the third signal. The page locator device communicatively connects the first user to the second user receiving the page request using the second telephone responsive to the destination number received in the third signal.

As an editor, I pride myself on my ability to take in barely-intelligible scratchings and turn out clear, readable prose. The problem is that this doesn't even qualify as unintelligible scratchings. I have no idea what it means. Do you?

The next time you come across some well-turned phrase, just consider for a moment that the real author of that phrase, the "power behind the throne," was likely an editor, just going about the business of making his or her writer look good.

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