Which we probably can’t, but maybe you can. Here goes:
1. Don’t start ripping someone’s copy before you make it past the first two paragraphs. We’re always preaching against this practice, urging editors to read a story through to get a sense of the big picture, the overall structure and what might be missing. But like the rest of you, we find it hard to resist firing up the old chain saw and hacking away from the start.
This reminds us of a previous New Year’s vow to eat slower. No matter how much we think about this, when faced with a plate full of food, our natural tendency is toward immediate and rapid inhalation. And let’s not even talk about festive beverages.
So try this: Force yourself to take in the whole story by printing it out and reading it on paper. Go ahead and make notes in the margin, but if you’re as tied to the computer as we are, you won’t start editing (or rewriting) until you’re back on the screen.
2. Don’t be so mean. When describing someone’s writing efforts, avoid using phrases like “this really blows” or “I asked for English, not frontier jibberish.”