ACES 2012 | New Orleans

Little changes make a big difference

When it comes to editing, Bill Walsh doesn’t believe in dramatic, flashy rewrites — quite the opposite, actually.

“Edit like a ninja,” Walsh said in his Thursday morning ACES session, “Tiny Acts of Elegance: Editing Like a Writer.”

The author (“Lapsing into a Comma” and “The Elephants of Style”) and multiplatform editor for The Washington Post presented his tips for seamless editing to an overflowing room following ACES’ opening general session. Walsh advised attendees to edit with finesse and logic, making small changes to enhance and clarify copy without agonizing over stylistic proprieties.

Not to say that Walsh doesn’t adhere to style — he made clear his preference for hyphenated compound modifiers when preceding their referents. Equally clear is Walsh’s belief that the purpose of editing is to clarify, without pandering, information for the audience.

Audience members throughout the room (and adjoining corridor) lobbed questions throughout the presentation, making the session an interactive discussion rather than a lecture. Walsh entertained them while providing insight into how he injects “tiny bits of elegance” into the pieces he edits. Often, Walsh explained, editors make small, seemingly insignificant edits when crafting the final product.

“In the end, the little things add up.”

 — By Jackie Blackburn

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