Would you like pepperoni with that manuscript?

Saturday, October 27, 2012
While editing levels and styles seem like a very straightforward, grammar-filled discussion, if you don’t know about the differences, then it’s hard to understand what might be available. It's a little bit like ordering a pizza. You may know the basics, but if you don’t know about the differences, you might not know what to order on a pizza...or know how to look at a manuscript for the edit.

(I know, I know. It is The Muffin, but we’re talking pizza today!)

A homemade pizza with lots of
toppings. || Credit: P. Humphrey
For me, often being able to visualize something helps me to understand it. Sort of like: How can you order a pizza without knowing what’s the pizzeria offers? Maybe I’m too hungry as I start writing this, but I was thinking about how to explain to a student about editing and variables in editing.

And I started to think in terms of pizza. When I started trying to think of something else, I kept coming back to the image of a pizza.

Why a pizza? Because there can be so many toppings, but editors build upon a base. Besides, doesn't everyone has their own favorite pizza?
  • As editors, we have to know our base. Maybe it’s APA-style versus Chicago-style crust. Is there a house style to consider that alters the pizza style to make it their own? Don’t we all have a favorite pizza place?
  • What kind of writing is it? Is it a technical document versus a romance novel? Think about how toppings can change what the pizza is: Is it pepperoni or pineapple with ham?
  • How is the pizza divided and served? Regionally diverse colleagues discussed the unusual square-cut pizza pieces one local Southern pizzeria provide versus those who might provide a meal-in-a-slice. Is the document a short story, a novel or an instruction manual?

I know. It’s kind of strange to compare writing and editing to pizza, right? Maybe. But I’m hoping this helps my student to see the amazing variations that editing can have. And it is just unusual enough to make it memorable. Or maybe it just reveals that I’ve been watching too many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares?

So tell me, is there an image that has helped you learn something about writing or editing? If not, do you have a favorite pizza?

When she’s not making or eating pizza, Elizabeth King Humphrey writes and edits in Wilmington, NC.


Anonymous said...

I'm usually such a visual gal but admit this one has me stumped. I'll borrow your pizza. But I'll have mine with spinach, carmelized onions and peppers and a little goat cheese (ooo with roasted pine nuts thrown on top) .

Elizabeth King Humphrey said...

Stick with the image for a while, it may grow on you. It did on me, obviously. :)
Thanks, your pizza sounds yummy!

Margo Dill said...

Elizabeth--this post wants to make me eat pizza for lunch! OH NO! :) LOL My children will be happy though. I think using food to think about layers of writing is a great idea. When teaching kids, we would use all kinds of food images like a sundae or a layered cake--there seems to be a trend--sugar.

Love this post! :)

Marcia Peterson said...

It's morning here but pizza always sounds good! Love the analogy too. ;)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Julie's pizza sounds yummy! Two nights ago, I had one with goat cheese and sun dried tomato. I think there's still a couple pieces left over in the fridge and it's starting to sound good!

I love food analogies, and pizza is a great one for writing and editing. :) I once did a post about SEO and getting traffic to your blog where I used the analogy of a picnic and ants. That's the only one I can think of right now. :)

Great post, Elizabeth!

T.K. Marnell said...

The pizza analogy confuses me, actually, because in editing you're not talking about completely customizable "crusts" and "toppings." You can make pizza with white or whole wheat flour; thin crust, regular crust, stuffed crust, or deep dish; square, round, shaped like a heart...and then you get to the topping combinations, which are endless. (I like mine with ham, pineapple, banana peppers, onions, diced tomatoes, light on the cheese). But when you take on an editing project, it's more like you're choosing from a set menu. Each genre has its own set of rules...you can't just make them up as you go along like you're creating your favorite pizza. Academic journals have their standards, and newspapers have another, and then there are all the different genres of fiction.

To me, it makes more sense to think of editing as a card game or a sport. First you and your client agree on which game you're playing. Basketball? Soccer? Tennis? All right, tennis (this is our style; our general playing field. We know what equipment we'll need and what the court looks like). Now what kind are we talking about--Singles, Doubles, or something off-the-wall like King of the Court (this is our genre)? What length--three or five sets (textbook, short story, novel...)? Any variations? No ad? Pro set? (These are our special considerations, like particular journal or publisher requirements). Then you can have levels of depth that affect how we play the game--in tennis the closest analogy is the court surface: clay, grass, wood, or hardcourts...you approach each differently. In editing it can be a developmental edit, a line edit, or a proofread.

Venue Sourcing Company said...

Pizza always sounds great at my home and my family members love to eat cheesy pizza, it’s always better to prepare at home than buying from shops.

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