David Massey

September 30, 2018 at 7:44 pm

Lane Greene: being an editor

I spend a lot of time when teaching writing trying to persuade authors to have the courage to write more concisely, to write less, to use shorter sentences and to simplify their grammar to subject, verb, object. Lane Greene edits for the Economist and in this Radio 4 podcast “Word of mouth” he talks to Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright about his work.

Greene talks about the editor being a stand-in for the reader, making their job easier. The text is going to be read by someone who has none of the knowledge the writer has and so the editor works to ensure the reader gets the most readable thing possible. He goes on to describe his aim to shorten text whilst still making the writing seem effortless.

He also offers great advice:  “The way people learn to speak and write the best is by listening and reading good language” especially when they’re young, he says. He advises all writers to keep the syntax simple and the words ordinary so you can make the ideas more complicated.

Download the complete podcast here.

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