Edit Poetry?


by: Shannon Hames

Who remembers being in elementary school and discovering poetry?

And wondering about the messed up punctuation?

And all of the rules that the teacher allowed you to ignore in poetry that you would have gotten a red mark on your paper for in any other writing?

Who remembers the term “poetic license?”  It was a free trip to Disney World to say your peace and not worry about rules.

Anarchy on paper!

You don’t even need to put a period there

Words don’t have to rhyme.

Screw capitalization if you don’t feel like it should be that way.  Save it for another day!


And the Hai-Ku?

Say what you want, no matter what… it’s all based on syllables!


A Hai Ku about getting out of bed in the morning:

No. No. No. No. No.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

No. No. No. No. No.

How do you like me now, editor?  What are you going to do with my angry poetry rant?

How do you make this better without making it worse?

It’s all in your mind, editor

You think you can do better than me?

You think you can edit me?

Think again…


The Bible: Editing Issues?

By: Shannon Hames

Never one to shy away from controversy, I thought I would examine the claims that people make while debating that the Bible is/isn’t the inerrant word of God. So much of our culture is derived from religious tradition that it often prevents people from examining claims that are made against their beliefs because to do so might mean abandoning everything that they’ve ever known and trusted.

The books in the Bible are a collection of smaller books written by men who were supposedly writing them down under the direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit.  Those words have somehow transcended through historical and cultural context and made leaps past developments in Science to still have the exact same meaning today as they did when they were written (in some cases, 3,500 years ago).

Because paper was unavailable and expensive in ancient past, it was always an extreme and expensive task to have it written and translated.  The first part of the Bible was written in ancient Hebrew.  The New Testament was written in ancient Greek.  These texts were translated by monks who had no knowledge of ancient cultures.  What we need to ask ourselves is, at any time in history, were people such as monks, who were transcribing and translating texts so often, faced with the task of writing down things that didn’t make any sense in their language or culture?  Would they have changed the words to make it more meaningful and relevant without worrying about what the original meaning really meant?

There are websites that you can search on to see original written texts that were changed or mis-translated into something new.  I find this fascinating because it shows that scribes not only had to be scholars to understand ancient languages, and artists able to illustrate the pages and fonts, but also editors who were attempting to assess who their audience was and make the words become something that that audience would be able to read.  It is a fascinating topic, to say the least!

Yoga Poses for College Students


by: Shannon Hames

I came across some of these “Yoga Poses for College Students” on the College Humor website.  They really made me laugh because of the way they are constructed.  Telling a joke can be funny.  Seeing a cartoon can be funny.  But when the funny part of something is the way that it is constructed and edited, that is what will appeal to the editor. 

In the case of this cartoon, the humor is revealed in how it looks like a how-to yoga sketch.  It depicts a student doing some type of stretch.  The viewer is drawn in thinking it may really be a special yoga pose for a college student.  However, when the reader starts to read the instructions, which are also written like a manual of how to do real yoga poses, the humor is inserted.  In this cartoon, the student is “meditating” by saying “Mmmmm” and nodding during a lecture.  The act of lifting his arm (raising his hand) and repeating what others have already said in his own words is funny because it makes the students laziness seem like an actual useful exercise.  The way that this was put together was clever, intelligent and very funny!

Worksheet Review Time – Pull Up a Chair


by: Shannon Hames

Back in the day when I homeschooled my kids, we lived on one income and resources were scarce.  I couldn’t afford those pricey curriculum plans and even if I could, my children had different learning styles.  I was adamant about not using a cookie-cutter approach to their education and let them do a lot of the leading about what they were interested in learning.  That’s how I discovered printable worksheets.  Today, I found a few places to go online that offer editing worksheets.  Let’s check ’em out!

1. Super Teacher Worksheets

This site has the cutest themed worksheets.  They are obviously for children but, DAMN, they are so adorable that I would be tempted to use them to introduce the topic of editors marks to college students.  They would lighten the mood and ease them into the concept of using certain marks to communicate changes that need to be made.  There area a variety of worksheets here to choose from and they can all be printed.

2. English for Everyone

English For Everyone has 15 beginning level worksheets, 15 intermediate level worksheets and 10 advanced level worksheets that are all for proofing paragraphs.  The one thing that I don’t love about these worksheets is that the problems are already identified by underlining.  The student doesn’t get to find the problems on their own.  Their job is to look at the identified problem and then go down to a multiple choice menu and choose what they think the correct format is.  It might be good to use it to get students to start recognizing what potential problems look like, but in the end, it might be better to follow up the advanced worksheets with new paragraphs that do not have the problems already identified.

3. Reed College

Yes, it’s time to move on to more advanced worksheets.  Reed College has a page for faculty but you can use it, too.  I love how they organize them into small segments.  This system allows you to either follow a pattern of learning or pick one area to focus on.  You can spend a lot of time at this site so be prepared to explore!

Editors Rejoice: Track Changes Revamps!


by: Shannon Hames

Each time Microsoft comes out with a new version of WORD, there are a group of people who inwardly groan.  They dread the new features that they’ll have to learn and, like most people who fear change, they’re afraid they won’t like the new changes or won’t be able to learn how to use them.  We get used to doing things a certain way and we don’t like to change it despite how many new neuron-pathways our brain will create as a result.  This time, however, there is one group of people who may just be rejoicing: editors.

When I first saw a document that used the track changes feature, I was confused.  I didn’t understand what was going on in the document and, as a professional organizer, the multicolored lines and bubble comments representing changes that various people made were an assault on my eyes.  I had to constantly think about which color meant which person and followed the lines to the part of the document that needed revision.  It was a total turn-off for me to use and I have had an aversion to it ever since.  The new version, however, allows you to see the profile pic of the person making changes.  Gone are the horrible lines and strikethroughs.  It’s all streamlined and cohesive.

Don’t believe me?  Google Image “Word 2013 Track Changes” and take a look at the screenshots.  Heaven!

The new track changes feature in the 2013 version of WORD has been hailed as a breakthrough.  Mashable wrote: “The new Word gives you an easy way to remove the markings from view while simultaneously consolidating those pop-up conversations. Even better, you can now protect documents with a password, ensuring users can’t make changes outside of using Track Changes. If you’re used to the old way the feature worked, it’s a little panicky when you make your first change and don’t see the familiar strikethrough, but the mess is now under control.”

This is one time that people should feel excited about a new change in familiar software.

Where Wolf?


by: Shannon Hames

We like to laugh and joke around about our mistakes here at Southern Poly.  Our English and Technical Communications department has some goofball students who love to laugh.  Yesterday, I saw this cute little cartoon on Facebook by a fellow English student and it certainly did make me laugh.  But it also went hand-in-hand with my previous post about how there is a trend among students that do not know how to spell or use correct punctuation and grammar. 

When I saw this cartoon, it reminded me of how many times I read the work of my classmates only to see how they have misused words that sound the same but are spelled differently.  (They’re, their, there).  They genuinely do not know (or care to look it up if they are uncertain) which form of a word to use so they treat it like a crap shoot.  The only thing they don’t realize is that they are gambling with their grades, their reputation and quite possibly their future jobs.

As cute as the cartoon is (and I absolutely hate werewolves so the fact that I find this cute is amazing), using the wrong form of a word is not cute.  As I said at the end of my last post about poor writing, I feel it bears repeating for this problem as well: practice!  If you are not sure what form of a word to use, look it up!  Then, write it in several sentences to see yourself using it in a correct format.  In no time, you will have it down perfectly and you will impress your friends, teachers and employers with your amazing grasp of the English language!

The Zen of Editing


by: Shannon Hames

I work on the side as a professional organizer.  A lot of the things I do involve helping my clients to edit their “things” instead of their words.  We will usually work together and talk about the “things” that the client is trying to manage.  I find out what is really special, sacred or useful to them and then we talk about editing what is left based on their needs and desires for the space.  When we finish and the space has become what the client envisioned, there is this wonderful satisfaction on their faces.  They took what didn’t belong away, left what they loved and the space was transformed from a chaotic place that didn’t lend itself to it’s purpose into a place of streamlined peace and beauty that has now met it’s full potential to the users.

A document is no different.  Looking at a piece through the lens of the audience is crucial.  Who will read this?  Who is the intended audience and what does the writer need from me to make sure they have the best piece to offer to their readers?  Does it follow a structure?  Does it make sense?  Is there anything that makes it confusing or unprofessional looking?  An editor looks at the document and matches it to the audience, then gets to work as a zen master by acknowledging what doesn’t belong, improving what is left and shapes it to meet it’s full potential.

When a reader gets a finished piece, it should be like art made from thoughts expressed through words.  Even technical documents can be a peaceful, calm work if an editor understands the intent of the document and the audience for whom it is written.  Follow my professional organizing tips during editing and see if it doesn’t help your process:

  1. What do you want the space (piece) to look like when we finish?
  2. What doesn’t belong here? (is it loved?  is it better in another place?  will it add to or subtract from what we want it to end up like?)
  3. Do we still have too much here?  If so, what can we get rid of?
  4. Now that we have what we’re keeping in place, let’s get it clean, polished and looking amazing!