We explore these subjects and more in the first episode of Season 3 of The Scripted Podcast!
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The Scripted Podcast: Season 3 Ep. 1: Editors & Writers:
Kevin O'Connor [00:00:19] Alright, welcome to the Scripted Podcast. First episode in 2021.
John Parr [00:00:24] Yes.
Kevin O'Connor [00:00:25] Welcome back. John.
John Parr [00:00:26] Welcome back, Kevin.
Kevin O’Connor [00:00:33] A bit of a hiatus, but we're glad to be back and the beginning of spring, we thought we’d have a bit of a rebirth and a new season of The Scripted Podcast.
John Parr [00:00:36] Yes, we are finally reborn. We should probably only open this up with: Previously on Scripted.
Kevin O’Connor [00:00: 38] Hey, yeah, yeah, everyone’s gonna be so lost. So, what are we talking about today?
John Parr [00:00:40] Kevin, today we’re gonna be talking about editors, and we'll be joined by two veteran Scripted editors Rachel MacAulay and Matthew Thompson, and we'll be chatting a bit about their history as editors, their careers, and also a little bit about, you know, how writer's can avoid having their content sent back to them, by editors, for revisions. And we'll also be talking bout those relationships with writers.
Kevin O'Connor [00:01:16] Yeah, I'm excited to hear what they have to say about that often contentious relationship between writers and editors.
John Parr [00:01:25] Yeah, yeah, totally. It's weird right? I think a lot of that comes from writers having an attachment to their work and sorta viewing editors as attacking this thing that's personal to them. But I'm hoping that we can kind of humanize editors a bit with this episode.
Kevin O'Connor [00:01:43] Exactly, yeah, and I hope the writers who are listening realize that our editors are there to help improve their skill set, and I'm sure that's what we'll find out in our discussion today.
John Parr [00:01:57] Yep, Editors are not your enemy.
Kevin O'Connor [00:01:59] Let's do it.
John Parr [00:02:00] Matt and Rachel, welcome to the show.
Matthew Thompson [00:02:03] Hi.
Rachel MacAulay [00:02:03] Hey, there.
Matthew Thompson [00:02:05] Good to be here.
Kevin O'Connor [00:02:07] Yeah, great to have you, So, yeah, let's jump right in. Why don't you guys tell us a little bit about how you got your start as editors.
Rachel MacAulay [00:02:13] I got my start as an editor with Scripted or got my start as an editor in life?
Kevin O'Connor [00:02:19] Rachel, we'll go with life.
Rachel MacAulay [00:02:20] Ok, as if anyone read the newsletter will know, I started out right from college. I was one of those star-struck, live near the city, gonna go into fiction publishing. And the problem at the time was that the really good fiction houses were paying, no exaggeration - this was the early 90s, $13,000 a year!
Kevin O'Connor [00:02:41] Oof.
John Parr [00:02:41] Eww.
Rachel MacAulay [00:0 2:43] And I was commuting from my parent's home in Central Jersey, so I went with John Wiley and Sons, which was published out, paying a huge $21,500 a year.
Kevin O'Connor [00:02:54] Yippie.
Rachel MacAulay [00:02:55] But I got into editing chemical encyclopedias, Kirk Ofmer chemical encyclopedias, and as a girl who hated science, especially chemistry, it was not an optimal situation.
Kevin O'Connor [00:03:05] Yeah.
Rachel MacAulay [00:03:06] So, yeah, I eventually started freelancing, but I do have that experience in chemical encyclopedias.
Kevin O'Connor [00:03:13] Which we all have our own copy of.
John Parr [00:03:15] Yeah.
Rachel MacAulay [00:03:16] Yeah, I you know, obviously I assume it's not around anymore. I mean obviously John Wiley and Sons is, they do the How To Dummies guides. You know, whatever For Dummies, but they're a great great company, but I just ended up in a dead end department.
John Parr [00:03:33] Yeah, it's tough.
Kevin O'Connor [00:03:34] The Encyclopedia Britanica creates comes back from the 90's. You still got that.
John Parr [00:03:41] And how about you Matt?
Matthew Thompson [00:03:43] I did a lot of like - I went to the University of Kentucky, which is one of the best few colleges that has a daily student-run newspaper, so I did a lot of editing there, and when I got out of school, I didn't really find, there were basically there were no jobs at the beginning of the recession.
Kevin O'Connor [00:04:08] Right.
Matthew Thompson [00:04:08] And a friend of mine worked for a company that did a ridiculous thing that should make no money, and they have since gone out of business for very good reasons, but they gave me a title of research editor, and having a good title can open so many doors.
John Parr [00:04:33] Sure, sure.
Matthew Thompson [00:04:34] So, like, once I got to the point with them where, like, they weren't giving raises, but health insurance was costs went up every year, so effectively I was making less money the longer I worked there. I was just like, I'm out. And started freelancing, and just having the title editor confirmed on your resume would get people to be like, 'Yeah, we'll try you.'
John Parr [00:04:58] Awesome.
Rachel MacAulay [00:4:59] It's crazy because I went in as an editor, and I also was an editor, and I was also an editor at Rutgers on the Daily Targum, but I went in as an editor. I'm sorry, as an editorial assistant at an analyst firm in New Jersey. I'm not gonna name it. It was great though, but one day they decided they were gonna make me into an analyst, because they needed one. And at the time it was voice and wireless technology-very cutting edge stuff in the late 90's.
John Parr [00:05:25] Of course.
Rachel MacAulay [00:05:26] I was in the first like cars out on San Jose being driven around with all the paraphernalia on top for like turn by turn directions.
John Parr [00:05:35] Sure, sure.
Rachel MacAulay [00:05:36] So, it was really crazy fun, but it was the most bizarre experience because I had no experience as an analyst, and they literally promoted me one day, and threw me to the city to a client the next day. And I'm just like, I'm an editorial assistant. So I had three and a half years as a voice and wireless analyst and it was really cool, but it's amazing how titles can just waylay you in all directions.
Kevin O'Connor [00:06:05] Yeah, another extreme specific category of editing.
Matthew Thompson [00:06:09] the weird thing about the editing that I was doing for the this company, they did like market media impressions and they would record video from news segments and provide transcripts. I was literally editing closed caption transcripts.
Kevin O'Connor [00:06:27] Wow.
Rachel MacAulay [00:06:27] So you're the one who were responsible for that.
Matthew Thompson [00:06:32] No, I wish. I wish I was responsible for what you saw on the TV. I was responsible for turning that crap into something that a client could read.
Kevin O'Connor [00:06:42] Right.
Rachel MacAulay [00:06:43] Did you ever throw your shoe at the TV Matt? Like, hey!
Kevin O'Connor [00:06:49] Do you guys watch the TV with the closed captioning on?
Rachel MacAulay [00:06:51] My husband need it. Otherwise the volume would be up to high. It drives me crazy because you know what's coming.
Kevin O'Connor [00:06:59] I have it on 24/7. I always have closed captioning on.
John O'Connor [00:7:01] I actually have too. Yeah, and I have a theory that listening comprehension, I think in like, the millennial generation and younger is going to be decreasing in the next 10 years because of it because. Yeah, I feel like I need it now.
Kevin O'Connor [00:07:18] Yeah, it's fantastic. You pick up so much more on like a television show or movie, like, when you have the closed captioning on, like the background noise and any like any of the whispers between characters that you wouldn't pick up on normally, you get all of that audio you know there was no way I was going to hear any of that before.
Rachel MacAulay [00:07:33] No, but it makes you wonder if we're all just becoming less grammatically correct then, because we're reading the closed captioning that Matt correctly called crap, because it's never spelled right and it's actually laughable.
Matthew Thompson [00:07:50] Yeah, a lot of it is pretty bad. That's true.
John Parr [00:007:51] It's not laughing accurate.
Matthew Thompson [00:07:52] You look for eight hours. What for?
Kevin O'Connor [00:07:58] The one thing that will stand out to you is anytime a horse is on TV, because you see the little caption, "horse whinnies."
John Parr [00:08:08] Or like, someone walking into a club and then, "indistinct rap song."
Kevin O'Connor [00:08:13] Yeah, I love the music cues. It's like, "upbeat music." "Sad, pensive music."
Matthew Thompson [00:08:18] I do like stuff like that when I'm watching foreign films. It's pretty great. I will also turn on closed captioning sometimes when I'm watching something that's British, because I have no idea what those people are saying.
John Parr [00:08:32] Same, same.
Kevin O'Connor [00:08:33] Yeah, my wife's the same. Anytime we have a British show on, she's like, "Is the closed captioning on? I can't understand a word of this."
John Parr [00:08:41] So, let me ask you then. You know, obviously we're touching on the answer of this now, but why, and this is a very general question, but also kinda far reaching, why do you think editing is important?
Rachel MacAulay [00:08:58] I was going to say that I was letting Matt go first. Go ahead.
Matthew Thompson [00:09:00] Yeah, yeah I think that, as is clear from my stuttering right now, like human communication isn't very well planned. Like, when we're talking, our brains are processing things and we're trying to turn thoughts and feelings into something another person can understand and writing is like the only real thing I can think of as genuinely planned communication.
Kevin O'Connor [00:09:29] Right.
Matthew Thompson [00:09:30] And the problem - the only problem that happens is no matter how well the writer plans, you're in your own head.
Kevin O'Connor [00:09:41] Right.
Matthew Thompson [00:09:41] So, this happens to me all the time. I write something, read it, it looks great. Give it to somebody else and they can find 20 things wrong with it.
Kevin O'Connor [00:09:55] Right.
Matthew Thompson [00:09:55] So, I think editing is important because it adds an extra layer to the planning of effective communication by inserting someone else's intelligence into what the original copy was.
John O'Connor [00:10:13] Right, right, right.
Rachel MacAulay [00:10:14] It's interesting because I guess I have a similar answer in the sense that it's focused, right? So, we're not just-right now, we're just shooting the breeze rambling, but you don't want that in a document. Nobody wants to read a stream of consciousness. Especially in a business document, right? So, you need an editor to come in and say, 'You know what, you've used that about 10 times in the paragraph. We need to make it sound better. We need to make it sound focused. We need it to be cohesive, and we need it to have a point.' And to tag again onto what Matt said, one of the reasons I tend to edit more than write these days is because I'm a self-editing writer, and that just sucks. Like, you can't write at a great volume or speed because you're constantly questioning your word use. You're checking yourself, and it's just is painful. So I've kind of gone back and I like a position that's a second set of eyes instead of a first set of eyes.
John Parr [00:11:20] That's interesting.
Kevin O'Connor [00:11:22] Yeah, like nothing comes out like in errands working character where everyone seems to super knowledgeable and like, ready with a quip.
Matthew Thompson [00:11:22] Yeah, the rambling.
Kevin O'Connor [00:11:32] Right, nothing comes out that way in the first draft. It needs to be worked one. Researched, you know?
Rachel MacAulay [00:11:40] Right, nobody's that brilliant from the start.
Kevin O'Connor [00:11:44] Exactly.
John Parr [00:11:44] Do you think that there's an ending ever? Like one thing we talk about in internally, you know, and part of the reason that we've had editing in various different ways on Scripted through the years, but one thing that we've always felt is that there isn't really a piece that doesn't need editing. Do you think that that's true? Do you think there's like a point where a piece can be edited essentially endlessly, and where do you draw the line?
Rachel MacAulay [00:12:13] Sure, I think that you can - if you don't pay attention to client's guidelines, you can choose to edit it at-nauseum because you agree or don't agree or particularly like the way it's going.
John Parr [00:12:24] Right.
Rachel MacAulay [00:12:25] But I think having those guidelines as your framework makes it so there's and ending. A concrete, you know. Okay, you've finessed the writer's words. You think that you've met the client's requirements. Send it on, you know, it's merry way.
Kevin O'Connor [00:12:39] Right, if it weren't for deadlines, nothing would be finished.
John Parr [00:12:44] For sure. Is that what it is then? The deadline essentially? You know that the painting is finished essentially?
Rachel MacAulay [00:12:50] It's a hard call because, for instance, I used to for a poetry journal. You know, what is poetry and how do you edit it?
John Parr [00:13:00] Right. Yeah.
Rache MacAulay [00:13:00] And it was really like, very lightly touched, so it was a Chicago manual of style guide the only thing I remember I really did was make sure it was consistent. Which is hard to explain in poetry and then just kinda question the order of certain words or particular use of a word and really make sure if something was capitalized in one place that they capitalize it somewhere else and make sure their references were correct.
John Parr [00:13:33] Right.
Rachel MacAulay [00:13:33] You know, they're talking about that, I'll demand answers, ya know. It didn't happen in like, Tacoma.
John Parr [00:13:39] Right, right.
Rachel MacAulay [00:13:41] But it was a really different experience than editing white papers. Because, you know the poetry, you can really really make an argument for anything.
Kevin O'Connor [00:13:54] Right.
Rachel MacAulay [00:13:54] I mean, imagine editing E. E. Cummings back in the day.
John Parr [00:14:00] Exactly, yeah its gotta be - it's day and night to something where it's-where you can kinda objectively edit. That's how I've always wondered, how guests without the presence of deadlines, I assume a piece can just be edited infinitely.
Matthew Thompson [00:14:14] I think that that's true of creative writing. Like you could edit something forever, and I think that I have been editing something forever, or at least two decades.
Rachel MacAulay [00:14:24] Right.
Matthew Thompson [00:14:25] When it comes to most of the projects that come through Scripted, I think there's a point where you go, that's good. Could you edit it to death? Sure, but like.
Kevin O'Connor [00:14:42] If it is your objective in a business with goal behind it, eventually you're gonna have a best practice that meets its, you know, standard.
Rachel MacAulay [00:14:49] I think also eventually you're gonna hit up against a client who's gonna be, 'No, that's not what I had in mind at all. Thank you very much!' Or, 'Yes, this is perfect!'
Matthew Thompson [00:15:00] One hundred percent, if I were to be overly focused on grammar for some client's I'd think that they would turn around and say, 'What is this?'
John Parr [00:15:12] Right.
Matthew Thompson [00:15:12] Like I don't know what this means, and I'm like ugh, yeah, I spent so much time making this perfectly clear, and they're like 'Sure, be realistically my clients read a fourth grade levels.' And that's something to think about. Like, if you-Something that's pretty new, at least for me over the past few years, is using applications to assist editing and so like you can use like the Hemingway app, and it's like third grade. That's good for some people, terrible for some other people. Like, you don't want it. But if you plug it in you get like 16, nobody wants it. Nobody wants graduate school writing, it's terrible.
John Parr [00:16:00] It is difficult and painful, I think the era we're in.
Kevin O'Connor [00:16:06] So, I want to talk specifically about your work on Scripted. Both of you have been long-time on the platform. When did you guys both start?
Rachel MacAulay [00:16:31] I started about five years ago, I think is what I figured out. When we were talking prior to this, I started out as a writer, and within a few months, Scripted approached me and asked me to try out as an editor. So it was pretty shortly after that. So it's about five years.
Matthew Thompson [00:16:36] I think I've been doing it for about seven, then there was like an editing job for a while, then it disappeared for a while. Then it came back.
John Parr [00:16:44] Yep.
Kevin O'Connor [00:16:44] Right, so like a lot of content that you're gonna see on the platform is business-related content. Content marketing purposes a lot of the time. You guys edit a majority of blog posts right?
Rachel MacAulay [00:16:58] Right.
Matthew Thompson [00:16:58] Yeah.
Kevin O'Connor [00:17:01] So, can you tell us a little bit about like the difference- different approaches you take when you're editing something for SEO or business rather than just purely grammatical editing process. What are the differences really? And how much do you think about the writer and the customer during that process?
Matthew Thompson [00:17:23] I try to put myself in that person's frame of mind. I think that there's a certain level of writing and also editing that shares a commonality with acting where you have to put yourself in like your pretending to be someone you're not. Like, okay I do not care about cars. Don't care at all. Well this blog is about how awesome cars are. So, now I'm reading this thing, pretending I care about cars. I can only do it well if I really put myself in the position of somebody who is going to read this.
John Parr [00:18:01] Interesting.
Kevin O'Connor [00:18:02] Right. Rachel?
Rachel MacAulay [00:18:04] I don't disagree with that. I think that - I used to say that when you're a writer, you're a subject matter expert for the blink of an eye, right? I've been a subject matter expert in so many things that right now, like if I look back at my writing from six or seven years ago, I'd say wow, I've forgotten I knew that. You know, like, some of us have had to learn like about CBD oil for, you know, five days while we write things. So when you're an editor, and again, I agree with Matt, it's like, well you obviously have to put yourself in the driving seat and read it from a consumer with the additional task of you have to make sure the writer, especially if it's SEO, you're hitting your keywords without being obvious about it. Which, does get hard and I've had writers; some really good Scripted writers push back on me when I'm just client wanted this keyword in there or these five keywords in there, and they're like 'We've been talking about keywords stuffing for decades now. Right, it doesn't work, and they'll be like 'I don't think that's gonna work.' And I'm just like-and this kinda goes with the last questions. You know what. We're gonna push it through and see if the client agrees. Because at the end of the day, we're really just the intermediatory between the two.
Kevin O'Connor [00:19:20] Right, which is unique to freelance writing, right? That you have two clients essentially. You have to work with the writer and the client. You're basically a representative of the client to the writer. Like a buffer almost.
Rachel MacAulay [00:19:37] Like, and we also represent Scripted. So, it's really, really interesting because we are kinda looking at three people, right?
Matthew Thompson [00:19:46] In this case, yeah.
Rachel MacAulay [00:19:47] And that's why I think at the end of the day, and I might be wandering off topic, it's like you can't have an ego if the clients like 'Ya know, the writer didn't really get this. Maybe the editor should have caught that.' Or the writer is like 'You know what, I don't think that's right.' At the end of the day, which by the way is an expression I hate, so, sorry I used that. I hate that expression. Oh, God. You're just like pass it through and hope that you did your best. You'll see them again if you didn't or you'll see it in the messaging.
Matthew Thompson [00:20:15] Right.
Rachel MacAulay [00:20:16] But, yeah I wandered far off that topic, so.
John Parr [00:20:18] No, no, no. I think that's interesting.
John Parr [00:20:21] Yeah, for sure and to touch back to what you guys were talking about as far as playing these roles. I've always been curious about that. Have you ever encountered a topic that required too deep of a dive to sort of put yourself into that mindset?
Rachel MacAulay [00:20:36] I still don't understand cryptocurrency.
Kevin O'Connor [00:20:39] Don't worry nobody does.
Matthew Thompson [00:20:44] Yeah, that's understandable.
Rachel MacAulay [00:20:45] You know, I've tried for years. I'd read you guys-there's been stellar writers on Scripted writing these great pieces and I've tried to use them as a learning opportunity here, and I still don't get it. But not for lack of wanting to.
Kevin O'Connor [00:20:59] I've had John explain it to me like five times and I still don't get it.
John Parr [00:21:05] Yeah, I'm in that game and there's still a ton I don't actually understand and some of it is actually beyond understanding. There's not a reason.
Rachel MacAulay [00:21:12] And I think that's actually it, right? So, my son's a biomedical engineer freshman this year and he was just home this weekend, and he was trying to explain to me about dimensions and ten dimensions and how to represent them, and I think cryptocurrency is like that. You can't picture a certain-yeah.
Matthew Thompson [00:21:34] When you consider like, people are like literally building servers that are intentionally designed just to solve math problems that don't mean anything except unlocking currency.
John Parr [00:21:45] Right, right, right.
Matthew 21:49 I don't think that you can understand it.
John Parr [00:21:51] Yeah, I think whenever money is involved, despite the technology, it becomes kind of emotion driven. But, moving on. Let me ask you this. Where do you think the adversarial relationship with a perceived adversarial relationship between writers and editors comes from, and how do you feel about that?
Rachel MacAulay [00:22:13] I think it actually depends on the writer.
Matthew Thompson [00:22:17] I don't personally feel that way.
Rachel MacAulay [00:22:19] In what way do you mean?
Matthew Thompson [00:22:20] I don't feel like-unless somebody asks me to edit something and I thought that their suggestions were just absolutely absurd, which does happen, like I..
Rachel MacAulay [00:22:34] You're talking from a writer perspective. You don't feel like your..
Matthew Thompson [00:22:25] Yeah, yeah. It's completely not personal to me.
Rachel MacAulay [00:22:39] But then I think that's where the ego comes in. Because there are people out there who think they're-I'm trying not to curse, but their writing's the shit. They're like, it hits their ego to have any type of correction.
Kevin O'Connor [00:22:56] Right. So how do you - how have you learned basically to deal with that potential ego problem? Like, is there there an approach when you submit editorial requests that you know kind of softens a blow for a certain writer that you know is particularly sensitive?
Matthew Thompson [00:23:16] I actually try not to look at the names of writers before I read their work.
Kevin O'Connor [00:23:24] Yeah, that's a good tactic.
Rachel MacAulay [00:23:25] Oh, wow! I do the opposite.
Matthew Thompson [00:23:28] Really? Okay. I just know that I will form either a positive or negative bias for someone and I'm trying really hard not to do that.
John Parr [00:23:40] Interesting
Matthew Thompson [00:23:44] So I don't do it based on a personal-like what do I think this person responses to? Like I don't know, maybe I should, but I do find that sometimes instead of just giving a list of things that they need to fix, it's - I usually ask questions.
Kevin O'Connor [00:24:01] Right.
Matthew Thompson [00:24:02] Don't you think this would be better if we used a bullet list here?
John Parr [00:24:08] Right, right, right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:24:10] And Rachel you think having a background on the writers actually improves your..
Rachel MacAulay [00:24:14] Well, and I don't use it negatively. So, sometimes when I pick up a job, because we don't obviously see the writer beforehand, and I see the name attached I have an expectation for the quality being good. So, yeah it doesn't have negative connotations. I have certain expectations for some who have proven to be stellar in the past. And as far as some writers who I know haven't done as good a job, you know. I agree with Matt. Our job is to help them get better to a point. I mean if you can't write, you can't write, and you shouldn't Be a Scripted writer. But if it's just - so, there was someone; if they're listening to this later on, I'm not aiming this at them as being a bad writer at all, but there was someone recently who had made the same point twice in a piece and they were, you know, there was a bullet up top and then it was a subhead in the middle and I said, you know, 'You've done this twice. I've highlighted both', and I said, 'You should take one out. But it's up to you to decide where to remove it because it might be more important in one place than another.' And that writer, when they sent it back, thanked me for giving them that option. To really just have the flexibility to make the decision on their own and for me not to really decide what the slant of the piece was that direction.
John Parr [00:25:32] See that's interesting. You guys are really cognizant of the fact that writing is emotional for writers. So it becomes really easy to offend.
Rachel MacAulay [00:25:41] Well, we're both writers. I think the worst editors don't come from a writing background.
John Parr [00:25:25] It's like, you know, when teachers don't have a subject background. They like are just, Oh, I'm going to try teaching one day. Editors really need to have come up from the ranks to understand how they want to be approached.
John Parr [00:26:00] Right.
Rachel MacAulay [00:26:00] You know what I mean? To approach writers that way because again, it's very - you are attached to your words. Your words are like, you birthed them. So, for someone to-I'm the only woman here, but your children, you know, someone's insulting your children is basically what it is if you get too attached to it. And so as a writer, we just have to be cognizant. Like we're not saying your kid is ugly, but perhaps if you didn't cut their hair with a bowl. Right, right, right, exactly.
John Parr [00:26:31] Definitely. So, let's get into the nitty gritty here. What kind of mistakes are editors encountering out there on the platform?
Rachel MacAulay [00:26:41] That's really hard. I always want to preface this by saying editing is and anal, anal thing right? Like you have to get is get it knocked down and you have to be-right, Matt? You have to be cognizant of the fact that we know it's anal, but this is our job.
John Parr [00:26:57] So is editing like leaking into your everyday life?
Matthew Thompson [00:27:00] There are some obvious things, like going to the grocery store, and looking at the sign and thinking that should be should be fewer.
Kevin O'Connor [00:27:17] Yeah!
Matthew Thompson [00:27:18] Again, we're persnickety.
Kevin O'Connor [00:27:25] That's hilarious. I've actually never thought of that.
Matthew Thompson [00:27:27] That happens constantly. But there's also.
Rachel MacAulay [00:27:30] Menus?
Matthew Thompson [00:27:34] Oh, yeah. Just forget it.
Kevin O'Connor [00:27:37] Do you think it helps to be a critical person, in life?
Matthew Thompson [00:27:42] I don't know that I am.
Kevin O'Connor [00:27:43] Is there a variation for that?
Rachel MacAulay [00:27:46] Critical, but also analytical. So, I think it's almost obvious that I would have ended up as an editor because I've always been analytical. And it combines my analytical mind with my love of writing, so I mean sure, if you ask anyone around me they'd say 'Yeah, she's critical.' But I really think it's analytical. You just see things a certain way.
Matthew Thompson [00:28:12] Yeah, you might be right about that.
Kevin O'Connor [00:28:15] So you have to have a certain love for writing and any analytical mind. Would you say those are two of the probably primary traits?
Rachel MacAulay [00:28:22] Patience.
Matthew Thompson [00:28:23] What I think is interesting though, is that like outside of the kind of writing that we're doing, there are correct and incorrect things. And that's how it is writing. But when it comes to language when speaking, I am not a prescriptive person at all.
John Par [00:28:40] Interesting.
Matthew Thompson [00:28:41] And I think people who are way into prescriptive grammar are just need to read some linguistics books. It really frustrates me. Look, I want you to write well because otherwise you're gonna come across as a dumbass to to some people. That's just gonna happen that way. But, like if you're just talking to people and you're correcting someone's speech, that's not how is that even socially acceptable? It really displays more ignorance than it does intelligence or knowledge.
John Parr [00:29:24] So, yeah. Let's jump into the lighting round here. We're gonna do a couple of questions. I'm gonna start with this one real quick. What's one thing; just one, that you wish more writers did?
Matthew Thompson [00:29:35] Read more.
John Parr [00:29:36] Interesting. Rachel?
Rachel MacAulay [00:29:38] My mouth is hanging open. I like read more. I feel like I just-when I said reread. I would have saved that had I known this question was coming.
John Parr [00:29:47] So reread before submission.
Rachel MacAulay [00:29:49] Yes.
Kevin O'Connor [00:29:50] There's a little James Lipton action for you guys. What's your favorite word and your least favorite word?
Rachel MacAulay [00:29:57] Golman. I love the word Golman.
Matthew Thompson [00:30:00] Great word.
Rachel MacAulay [00:30:01] I hate the word often times.
Kevin O'Connor [00:30:06] Often times.
Rachel MacAulay [00:30:07] And there are lot's of Scripted writers who use that.
Matthew Thompson [00:30:10] Often times. Yeah.
Rachel MacAulay [00:30:11] Often times. Just often people.
Matthew Thompson [00:30:14] Yeah.
John Parr [00:30:16] That's fair.
Matthew Thompson [00:30:19] The first word that pops into mind, onomatopoeia. But I can't really imagine seeing it in much writing. But, I love the way it sounds. I don't know a word I really hate. I'm sure there are a lot of them, but I'm gonna go with the phrase, because it comes to mind first. In order to. It just means to. People, in order to just mean to.
Kevin O'Connor [00:30:50] Those are very editor answers.
Matthew Thompson [00:30:50] Extremely editor answers.
Rachel MacAulay [00:30:54] I actually think the Scripted platform will flag in order to and recommend that it goes to to. I'm pretty sure it does.
John Parr [00:31:03] If it doesn't, it should. I'll make that claim.
Rachel MacAulay [00:31:05] Agreed.
John Parr [00:31:09] So what books should all writers read? There's an almost universal answer here, but be kinda know recommendations.
Rachel MacAulay [00:31:15] I was curious to know what the universal answer was, actually.
Kevin O'Connor [00:31:20] Well, no, I was going to say On Writing by Steven King.
Rachel MacAulay [00:31:23] I was going to say Steven King's On Writing. No one finishes that book.
Matthew Thompson [00:31:29] Oh, are you serious? I've read it three times.
Rachel MacAulay [00:31:31] Oh my God.
Matthew Thompson [00:31:32] I love that book. Steven King, I wish Steven King would follow his own advice more. He needs to read his own book.
Rachel MacAulay [00:31:42] Well, and this is my primary problem with people like Steven King or even Diana Gableton, and all my Outlander friends will kill me. They need editors.
John Parr [00:31:53] Oh God yeah, I feel that way very strongly about Steven King.
Rachel MacAulay [00:31:55] If I'm flipping through twenty pages of fluff, because it's not important to the story line, you needed an editor honey.
Matthew Thompson [00:32:08] And that's exactly what Steven King advises against doing or promotes on writing. Like, get rid of this crap. You don't want that crap. It blows my mind that he wrote such a good book about writing. I used to, when I was a kid, loved Steven King, and I actually read one of his books in the last five years, and I don't think it was terrible, but it was schlocky.
John Parr [00:32:33] Yes, it is. His name, I think, holds a lot more grander than his actual content at this point.
Matthew Thompson [00:32:38] Yes, absolutely.
Kevin O'Connor [00:32:41] I mean, he's written a four hundred books
John Parr [00:32:45] Yeah, that's true. Let's pull it into the old classic battleground for this next question. I need to take a deep breath here. The Oxford comma. Go.
Matthew Thompson [00:32:55] Use it. We're not using printing presses anymore here people. There's no reason not to use it.
Rachel MacAulay [00:33:05] I was against it just because I had a client who didn't like using it, and I was just like, you know, I could see not using it. But then all my other clients did, and I was just like, no. I really like the way it looks. Let's put it back there.
Kevin O'Connor [00:33:17] It makes sense to me. It doesn't make sense the other way to me. And I don't understand the argument.
Matthew Thompson [00:33:23] I was actually, I got a new bookshelf, and I was putting books on it and I ran into a book I haven't seen in a long time. Eat Shoots and Leaves.
Rachel MacAulay [00:33:36] That's a primary example isn't it?
Matthew Thompson [00:33:39] Like I said, it made sense at one time, to not use it. If you have a printing press, and I've used a printing press; putting down each letter is a pain. If you can take one out, do it. But we're digital now. It doesn't matter.
John Parr [00:33:57] Yeah.
Matthew Thompson [00:33:59] Just use the comma.
John Parr [00:34:01] In a similar-this is actually maybe one of the more, most peaceful discussions about this that I've been part of. Ok, yes. One space or two space after a sentence?
Matthew Thompson [00:34:13] One's enough.
Kevin O'Connor [00:34:18] It actually shows your age if you're putting two spaces after a sentence.
Matthew Thompson [00:34:22] That would strike me as weird.
Kevin O'Connor [00:34:24] You're either remembering it from grade school, and that's like the last time you thought about it. Or you're just way older and you didn't think about how it changed over the last 20 years.
Rachel MacAulay [00:34:37] It's kind of incredible if you think about it, if people support a double space when we're like a text driven society, right? So, brb, but oh, let's put two spaces in there.
Kevin O'Connor [00:34:49] Right?
Matthew Thompson [00:34:53] I do have muscle memory when I sit down at a real typewriter. It gets double spaced.
Rachel MacAulay [00:34:59] You gotta hit those thumbs, right?
John Parr [00:35:03] And then finally, semicolons.
Matthew 35:05 Oh, I love semicolons, but, damn, they're hard to use, and you should use them infrequently.
Rachel MacAulay [00:35:11] See, I'm an in-dash girl.
Matthew Thompson [00:35:13] I like dashes too. I feel like they're very - they're similar. They share a lot of the common ground, but they're different tools.
Kevin O'Connor [00:35:21] What is it Vonnegut said about semicolons? They are transvestite hermaphrodites that serve no purpose except to show people that you went to college.
John Parr [00:35:36] Very Vonnegut.
Rachel MacAulay [00:35:38] That is very Vonnegut.
Kevin O'Connor [00:35:40] Not exactly politically correct for the era. He probably said that in the 60's. But, yeah I think it does just try to look fancier than it needs to be.
Matthew Thompson [00:35:51] There is some occasions where I'm like, yeah, that works.
Rachel MacAulay [00:35:53] Yeah, but they're rare.
John Parr [00:35:55] I use is sparingly. Very sparingly.
Rachel MacAulay [00:35:56] I think there was a writer yesterday that I was editing for on Scripted who used them instead of commas.
Matthew Thompson [00:36:03] That's just what I was about to go into. Here's my advice, which is if you aren't one hundred percent sure where semicolons are used, don't use them.
Matthew Thompson [00:36:13] I think that's true.
John Parr [00:36:15] In fact, I would say that like with the type of content we work on with Scripted, there's probably no use. If you're using it more than three times in your novel, you should think about that.
Kevin O'Connor [00:36:27] You're right.
John Parr [00:36:30] That's how sparingly I'm talking.
Rachel MacAulay [00:36:32] And if you're still using them at the end of lists, it's two thousand twenty-one, so.
Matthew Thompson [00:36:44] Yeah, bullet lists. That's where it's at.
Kevin O'Connor [00:36:46] Finally, do you guys have any thoughts, final thoughts, for the editors out there who may feel frustrated with the work that's in front of them right now? What advice do you have for them?
Rachel MacAulay [00:36:58] Editors or writers?
Kevin O'Connor [00:37:00] Editors.
Matthew Thompson [00:37:01] If you're that frustrated with it I feel like the writer needs to be given another chance.
Kevin O'Connor [00:37:05] So Matt's going with second chances.
Matthew Thompson [00:37:07] And with an encouraging not that might also offer some hidden criticism.
Rachel MacAulay [00:37:18] I feel hypocritical because I just had a recent one where it came back a second time and still was awful and I was not as - I didn't sugar coat my words as much as I would have. So, yeah, be kind give the writer another chance. I agree with Matt, but it also does no one a favor to let a writer whose not up to snuff through.
Matthew Thompson [00:37:47] Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:37:48] Right. I think you can see Matt's southern hospitality in his approach to editing, whereas Rachel..
Rachel MacAulay [00:37:56] Yeah, I'm a Jersey girl.
Kevin O'Connor [00:37:56] Rachel, John, and I are used to getting told to our faces by our best friends constantly.
Matthew Thompson [00:38:07] Which is a little weird because seriously Louisville is one of the rudest places I've ever been. Yeah, it really is.
John Parr [00:38:14] Well, you guys have incredible patience and we are just beyond thrilled to have you on the platform and thank you for all you're hard work, and for joining us on the podcast today.
Rachel MacAulay [00:38:25] Thank you so much. It was great.
Kevin O'Connor [00:38:26] Do you guys have anything to plug?
John Parr [00:38:30] Anything you guys working on?
Matthew 38:32 Nothing that's. Working on?
John Parr [00:38:38] A classic writer reply.
John Parr [00:38:53] That was good times. That was good times. Kevin is there anything that sticks out to you about what we just discussed?
Kevin O'Connor [00:38:56] You know it was interesting that both of them had different approaches to like how they see writers. Right, Matthew said he doesn't look at names and Rachel felt that it was very important for her to know who she was editing.
John Parr [00:39:17] Yeah, super interesting. I was fascinated by that. I don't know that either approach is, say, more advantageous than the other, but both are valid.
Kevin O'Connor [00:39:30] Yeah, right, like do you try to remove your own bias, or do you really try to get to know the writers you're editing to better associate yourself with them and improve their writing? I mean, there's a couple school's of thought I guess.
John Parr [00:39:50] Yeah, totally, totally. I think you see this sometimes with fiction writers where authors will work with the same editor for the entirety of their career. Or they prefer to at least and the reason for that is usually that by developing this relationship with and editor, the editor understands their style intrinsically and the edits will be made with that in mind. So, while that's slightly different than the type of writing done on Scripted, I still think that underscores the importance of a relationship with the writer.
Kevin O'Connor [00:40:25] And from an editor's perspective, it's different editing for freelance writers than it is say for a book author where you get to know that person and you get to know their writing. You're dedicated to them and your one in writing. For freelance editors you need to be able to move and adjust to different to different styles, to different goals, to different clients.
John Parr [00:40:45] Yes!
Kevin O'Connor [00:40:46] Like, on a dime. So, it's probably very important to be able to disassociate yourself, but I think in either approach, whether it's Matthew's or Rachel's, the key is communication.
John Parr [00:41:00] Absolutely.
Kevin O'Connor [00:41:00] Open communication between the writer and editor, so as an editor, you're not aligning everything a writer does and as a writer, it's not like you said, it's an anonymous person coming in and destroying your work. They're trying to make you better and the way to, I think, get that across in that relationship is to just communicate. Just openly and consistently through the process.
John Parr [00:41:28] Totally, and I think you see this across any type of creative medium. You know, there's a reason why when you recording a song it goes to a mixing engineer. And after a mixing engineer goes to a mastering engineer and the reason for that is, having this extra set of ears is invaluable in the process. Anyone who is creative or has produced some form of creative output knows that you get married to that work, you know and you are sort of blind to any issues it might have. So I think it's kind of weird that this meme of 'Oh God, I hate my editor' among writers occurs in the first place is that these guys are, they're your friends. And almost more importantly, they're writers themselves.
Kevin O'Connor [00:42:20] Yeah, right? The best ones themselves are and yeah, just to keep an open mind when you're on either side of that process and don't take things personally.
John Parr [00:42:31] Yeah, and that's certainly hard to do. Well, that does it for this episode of the Scripted Podcast. Join us next weekend, until then.
Kevin O'Connor [00:42:41] We'll see you next time and try to remember, life isn't Scripted, but your content should be.