5 ways editors are like chefs

Editors, like their culinary counterparts, often must turn disparate, incongruent ingredients into delectable dishes.

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Master chefs transform humble ingredients like onions, tomatoes and carrots into dazzling culinary creations.

All proficient chefs do some version of that, though there is something deliciously satisfying about the notion of repurposing barely palatable foodstuffs into vibrant, surprising feasts.

As editors, we are like chefs: We take pride in turning words into something more substantial, stirring, sumptuous and, dare we say, salubrious.

There are plenty of similarities between the two professions; here are five ways editing parallels the work of chefs:

1. We strive for the most pleasing recipe. Just like chefs, editors core, score, slice and dice, testing the contents of the vessel and adjusting accordingly. We use skill and imagination to tinker with word recipes until the concoction is clear, concise and compelling. Portions (word counts), flavors (voice and tone), variety, balance, timeliness and the tastes of our audience all factor into the winning recipe.

2. We make do with the ingredients on hand. Generally, writers are purveyors of fine (and ideally fresh) ingredients, working with editors to create the best result possible. Other times, they are like unscrupulous fishmongers who plop a crate of fetid catfish on your stoop and disappear.

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