With the aim of adding another string to my copy-editing bow, I signed up for the PTC’s Rewriting and Substantive Editing course. Although I had some concerns regarding my limited experience of copy-editing and my non-publishing background, the course tutor reassured me that these concerns were likely to be shared by many of the other delegates and that most of them would also work for non-publishing companies.
Indeed, the 12 of us gathered on the 30th November came from a range of backgrounds – charities, societies, private companies and mainstream publishers – and this led to some thought-provoking discussions. We began with general principles for rewriting, and techniques for identifying the problem, before diving into some exercises. Once we’d had a crack at rewriting, we were given a possible reworking of the sentences we’d been looking at. The nature of rewriting means that there isn’t a definitive answer and it was useful to talk through the different approaches to this task.
The course was an interesting mix of anecdotes, instruction, practical exercises and discussion. My only (very small!) complaint was that the initial scene-setting meant that we didn’t get into the practicalities of rewriting until late morning. However, I understand that the tutor plans to send out an introductory document prior to the next course, which will mean that the preliminaries are already covered (and that the course is even better!).
I would highly recommend this course. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I learned a lot, both from the tutor and from the other delegates. The catering also warrants a mention, as the venue kept us well fed and watered throughout the day. I came away armed with a range of techniques for rewriting text and now have the confidence to tackle the sort of substantive editing I would previously have given a wide berth.
Claire Langford, an in-house proofreader, was part of the course that ran on November 30, 2017. Rewriting & Substantive Editing is scheduled to run three times in 2018.