Posts Tagged ‘editing’

Time to shake things up

In September 2016 on September 29, 2016 at 12:17 pm


Sarah: In April this year I wrote an off-the-cuff post about career pathways and dreams for my future.

Little did I know what was around the corner! I’m delighted to report that this month I will start a new role as Adelaide Life Sciences Editor with The Conversation Australia.

So what’s The Conversation? Taken from their website:

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.

Our team of professional editors work with university, CSIRO and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.

My job will be to work with researchers to help them craft well-written, accessible and news-worthy articles that anyone can read for free.

It will be a busy, exciting and quite demanding role, so please bear with me as I settle in and work out my new modus operandi for blogging and social media.

Vive le changement!


What makes a great editor?

In June 2015 on July 2, 2015 at 11:18 pm

Pexels people-apple-iphone-writing

Sarah: The editorial in my Winter 2015 edition of Adelaide Hills Magazine tells me it’s the last volume to be headed up by Max Anderson.

Max was an important influence when I was working out how freelance writing was going to pan out as a career for me. He took a chance and gave me a story to write for the magazine (it was a shocking act: I’d just sent him a terrible pitch for a completely unrelated and mind-blowingly boring article idea). Also, he believed in the power of science stories. And he still does – if you have the chance, please do track down Adelaide Hills Magazine Winter 2015 edition: the interview with Climate Scientist and Ecologist Corey Bradshaw is quite outstanding (it’s written by Lainie Anderson – you can catch snippets of it here).

But best of all, Max — along with other editors in my life — provided a chance for me to see how a great editor can help your own writing progress.

Here’s a quick list that summarises 5 of my thoughts as to what makes a great editor:

  1. A great editor doesn’t leave you floundering, wondering what he or she wants from you. He or she is clear in what the word count should be, provides examples of similar articles, gives a little bit of early guidance and options as to what it might turn out like, and then leaves it up to you.
  2. A great editor doesn’t accept exactly what you’ve written the first time. She or he provides a critical appraisal – tells you which bits work and why, and then gives it back so you can make it better. All of it.
  3. A great editor might change his or her mind as to what the piece should consist of after the first or second draft. This feels terrible as a writer — you’re in the zone, you’ve created what feels like a good story…and then suddenly BANG. It needs a new section?! But yes, it does. Once you reach the final version, you will see it.
  4. A great editor insists on a kick-butt beginning and an unforgettable ending. There’s no point in having a brilliantly crafted meat in the sandwich unless the reader actually gets through the top layer of bread, right? Similarly, it’s utterly disappointing to finish a meal with a bad taste in your mouth. Open with a bang, finish with polish.
  5. A great editor asks you what you think of other stuff in the magazine and the world, and actually listens to your answer.

[image thanks to]

Day 319. Let’s workshop it

In June 2013 on June 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm


So you want to be a writer. Is there a course for that?


Sometimes I feel like I’ve been doing ‘courses’ towards becoming a writer for the past 23 years. Everything I’ve done – professional, amateur, paid, unpaid, deliberate, accidental – has somehow contributed to my current motivations.

Adding to all that, today I attended my first workshop at an association of writers, the SA Writers Centre.

Talking to the topic “How to give up your day job”, Patrick Allington held the floor and encouraged the audience to join in.

Patrick touched on several aspects of writing that struck a chord with me.

On managing several different types of work (along with the demands of a young family), he said:

“I think of myself as a juggler; I throw balls away as I finish things, and I pick up new ones”.

Patrick also talked about the necessity to juggle different types of literary employment – balls of different sizes and weights, if you will. Tasks such as reading, writing, editing and critiquing all require different skills. As a result, most writers need to be meticulous about the way they allocate time and energy to each job.

‘The deadline’ was raised as another important issue. Whereas most jobs involve a worker sticking to mutiple deadlines for a single boss, freelance writing requires that multiple deadlines to multiple bosses are managed. This is tough. Each boss does not care about the other bosses. Each boss must be kept happy. Work must be handed in to deadline, otherwise future assignments from that source will dry up.

Making decisions about when to take on unpaid writing assignments was also a hot topic. It’s of particular relevance to science writers, as evidenced by a recent chain of discussion on the Australian Science Communicators email list about if and when it’s reasonable to ask writers to generate content ‘for the experience’.

Patrick proposed that even experienced and well-regarded writers do still take on unpaid work from time to time. He suggested the key is:

“If you’re considering taking on unpaid work, you need to work out whether and how you’re going to make it work for you”.

There is no doubt that taking on unpaid work will improve your experience and create content for your CV. The problem is – as I discussed with Liam Mannix recently – an individual’s capacity to take on unpaid work is directly related to the income they earn through others means and/or the ability of other family members to support them.

I do a reasonable amount of unpaid work, but I’m lucky to have a husband who earns well enough to allow me to do so. This is not the case for everyone.

[image thanks to PalFest on flickr]