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Eric Dayton, Philosophy Faculty

Editing Process

What is your editing process like?

I realized, in reading my thesis, that I had sentences that were a paragraph long, because it took me that...that was the process that my thought took. I had to think this very complicated structure to get from this point to this point. It took me a long time afterwards, a couple years I think I spent, trying to simplify my sentences. I'd start out with one of these really complicated monster sentences and then I would replace it with three or four short sentences that had only one subordinate clause or no subordinate clauses. (I think that's the reverse problem for most people. They write very simple sentences and have difficulty writing more complex...) Well, I think, probably, I did that in the beginning; I started out writing simple sentences, and then I got so that I could write these complicated sentences, but then ... the communicability of a complex sentence is a problem because when you have several subordinate clauses in a sentence the reader has to imagine many possibilities before he gets to the end of the sentence. That's a lot of work ... so it's much easier. (It takes some skill to write a sentence that's a paragraph long.) I found that the big task for me was to write in small sentences and now my writing is much more lucid. It's much clearer. You can see into it much better. You don't get dragged by the throat to the end of the sentence. You actually see where you're going. And I think ...that was a skill that I really valued; sort of writing as you talk.