No Amount of Editing Can Help Bad Writing

by Frank Roche on February 14, 2011

in Communication, Writing

I went to a play last night that was simply awful.

Out of respect to the theater and actors, I’m not going to say which show. And where.

Suffice to say that the writing was terrible. It was self indulgent. It was stupid. And it was twice as long as it needed to be.

The sick part is that the Playbill said that the show had been edited and recrafted over the course of decades.

It didn’t help.

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Here’s the thing about employee communication that I thought about during the show: No mount of editing can help bad writing. Starting out with junk, then editing, just makes the junk a weaker variation of junk.

It astonishes me sometimes when good writing gets edited by lesser writers, who knock the edges off of the good stuff. But start with something terrible and no matter how many rounds of edits you do, it’s still garbage. It’s just garbage with different garbage words.

Here’s my advice: Amateurs shouldn’t edit. Amateurs shouldn’t write first drafts. And when amateurs think their little writing masterpieces are improved by moving a paragraph here or there, they’d be best served to throw their garbage in the trash can.

Sometimes there’s no other solution but to start over.

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