Reading like an editor

Material Information

Reading like an editor toward a new model for teaching the editorial process
Hobkirk, Lori B
Publication Date:
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vii, 88 leaves : ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Editing ( lcsh )
Editing ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 83-88).
General Note:
Department of English
Statement of Responsibility:
by Lori B. Hobkirk.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
166267541 ( OCLC )
LD1193.L54 2007m H62 ( lcc )

Full Text
Lori B. Hobkirk
B.A., University of Colorado, Boulder, 1988
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts

This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Lori B. Hobkirk
has been approved
Michelle Comstock
Rick Vandeweghe

Hobkirk, Lori B. (M.A. English, Teaching of Writing)
Reading Like an Editor: Toward a New Model for
Teaching the Editorial Process
Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Michelle Comstock
This article describes the development and implementation of a query-based
approach to teaching the editorial process in college-level composition
classrooms. Thoughtful and consistent editing is important to providing good
direction to writers. Whats involved with the editorial processa reading and
response processis examined, first, by explaining the relationship between
writer and editor. Next, research on reading comprehension strategies is brought
to the fore as a means of arriving at the idea that editors read differently than
writers, and that an editor engages with a text differently than the person who is
primarily concerned with correcting spelling and punctuation. The discussion then
focuses on the relationship between editor and text and issues that are unique to
editors, such as gaining confidence in the quality of the reading that is taking
place and beginning to read more socially for larger, future audiences. The
importance of reading and responding is underscored, finally, with a proposal to

teach the editorial processalongside the writing processin a new and different
way. Here, editors will learn how to pose effective questionsor queriesas a
tool for self-monitoring their own understanding of the text as well as helping
writers compose better reader-friendly drafts. The result is a process in which the
reader evolves from understanding a text into an editor who helps make the text
more understandable.
Michelle Comstock

1. INTRODUCTION........................................1
2. WHAT IS EDITING?.....................................7
Author Versus Writer...............................9
The Confusion.....................................10
A Relationship of Inequality......................15
The Joint Goal of Meaning-Making..................20
3. READING LIKE AN EDITOR..............................27
Reading Like a Writer.............................30
Reading Like a Reader.............................34
Reading Like an Editor............................45
Becoming More Confident...........................56
Reading Process Models............................62
5. TOWARD A NEW MODEL.................................68
The Response Sandwich.............................69

The First ReadingThe Fallible Writer.......70
The ResponseGaining the Writers Trust.....76
The Final ReadingAgreement.................79

Table 3.1 Sample of Reading Strategies Used by Editors....................49

In the spring of 2006,1 copyedited a very long book about California
Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggers very short (so far) political career (Mathews). It
was a rush project, which meant that as a freelance project editor I had about six
weeks to manage the book through copyediting (I would do the copyediting, as well),
design, proofreading, and indexing. Most nonrush projects take four to five months.
In addition, this book presented a challenge because it came to me as 900 Word
pages, which translated to about a 650-page book. But the publishers plan was to
market it as a 250-page book. From the beginning, I realized that my job as a reader
was going to be stretched to include not just line and mechanical editing, but
developmental editing as well. As a development editor, I would need to read very
differently than I would as a copy editor. But how?
Whats the difference? As the third reader of the Schwarzenegger book (the
first was the author, and the second was the acquiring editor in New York), I knew I
would not be able to read strictly as a copy editorreading for correction and
adherence to The Chicago Manual of Style (hereafter refered to as CMS). I would not
be able to focus only on punctuation, grammar, and questioning the validity of
historical facts and name spellings. No, I would also need to read very critically,

slowly, and deeply, asking what could be omitted or which parts could be drastically
revised and shortened, as well as marking the text and suggesting these changes to the
writer-a writer who felt that this book could make or break his career.
If I had been in an undergraduate composition class, the development editing
process would have been called peer response or peer editing, in which I would
have been helping the writer address the higher-order elements of revision:
suggesting cuts and reorganization, suggesting better transitions, possibly suggesting
that the text be divided into two separate, shorter documentsor two separate books,
in the case of the Schwarzenegger book. I would have been asking the writer many
questions as I read, and I would have been helping the writer gradually become more
aware of a larger future audience.
Research about the writing process shows revision is separate from, and
comes earlier than editing (Harrigan; Liu and Hansen; Murray; Rand). Its advised
that writers begin revising early on and leave the editing until the very last. That is,
writers should hone the meaning of their texts by reading and writing and engaging
other readers before making mechanical corrections for spelling, grammar, and
punctuation. These terms, revision and editing, imply that the writer performs the
revision and a different person takes care of the editing. Additionally, these terms
imply that revision is a process while editing is an event at the end of that revision

The peer response system in composition classes is designed to include other
students in a writers revision process by engaging other classmates early on, though,
not necessarily as editors but as peers, equals, collaborators. Donald Murray suggests
this kind of student involvement is more beneficial for the reader than it is for the
writer because it helps us [the reader] understand how our classmates are writing.
We can begin to see how they are making language work, how they are producing
drafts that are evolving toward a clear, documented meaning (Murray 10). But
Murray also suggests that peer response can help students begin to help other writers:
We [the responders] can help them [the writers] see where they are in the writing
process and, therefore, suggest strategies and techniques that may help them solve
their writing problems (10).
While revision and writing are things writers do, reading and responding and
rereading are things that reader responders do. That is, readers who are responders.
Readers who will interact with writers when responding to their texts. One question
is, then, arent editors also readers? Even while correcting punctuation, editors are
engaged in reading the text. And, in the case of the Schwarzenegger book, editing
included suggesting changes to the higher-level elements of revision. If editors are
readers, then, why arent the words reader and editor used more interchangeably?
And shouldnt editors, as readers, become engaged in the revision process earlier on?
In order for editing to be thought of as a bigger part of the writing process,
reader responders need to be called editors, and editors need to become engaged with

the text and the writer early on, not for purposes of correction, but more as an aid for
helping writers see where they are in the writing process. Thoughtful editing is
important to providing this direction to writers. Correction, at the end, needs to be
thought of as a continuation of the process of making meaning and needs to be
included in a larger editorial processa process that includes authorial revision,
editorial revision, and correction. To that end, there is a need for devising new
methods of teaching the editorial process, methods that focus on improving reading
and responding skills.
Because the very act of writing involves reading (Rosenblatt 185), it follows
that teaching reading comprehension skills alongside the writing process would be
appropriate in college composition classes. In order to become better writers, students
must become better readers, which, in turn, will help them become better editors. In
Essays Into Literacy, Frank Smith wrote, The writing that anyone does must be
vastly complemented by reading if it is to achieve anything like the creative and
communicative power that written language offers (84). In other words, we wont be
able to understand written language, much less become good writers, if we dont
already understand the intricacies of reading.
My intent in writing this paper is to look deeply at whats involved with the
editorial processa reading and response processand then propose a new model
for teaching it in college-level composition classrooms. Even though a writer is a

texts first reader and, therefore, its first editor, I have chosen not to focus on the
editing a writer performs on their own writing because it does not necessarily involve
reader responders. Instead, I have chosen to focus on the part of the editorial process
that involves readers who did not write the text. To me, these are the people who are
truly engaging in a reading and responding process, that is, the editorial process.
When writers edit their own pieces, they are still creating the textthe genesis is still
taking place. Other readers/editors will never be a part of that creation because editing
is not a collaboration with a writer. This is something I will explain more thoroughly
in Chapter 2, as I attempt to define editing by looking, primarily, at the relationship
between editor and writer.
Currently, most research about teaching effective reading comprehensive
skills is being conducted in the primary grades, when students are just beginning to
learn how to read (Beck et al.; Britton et al.; Keene and Zimmerman; Miller;
Pressley). This research is valuable because it ideally helps teachers create active
readers, from the beginning of their reading careers, who can fully engage with texts,
understand them by making connections to other things in their lives, and compose
questions that are concerned more with the creation of meaning than with the recall of
factual information. But reading research falls short when it comes to the editorial
process, especially when teaching at the college level when its assumed that student
editors may already be proficient readers. More research on editorial reading
comprehension strategies could benefit an editor, who is helping a writer see where

they are in the writing process, by teaching that editor to engage with a text
differently than the person who is primarily concerned with correcting spelling and
punctuation. I look at these issues in Chapter 3, where I will also refer to the reading
research currently being conducted in primary grades. I will show how these skills
differ depending on whether one reads as a writer, as a reader, or as an editor.
In Chapter 4, once I establish that there are, indeed, basic editorial reading
strategies, I will revisit defining what an editor actually is and does by examining the
relationship an editor has with the text. Additionally, I will highlight issues that are
unique to editors: gaining confidence in the quality of the reading that is taking place
and beginning to read more socially for larger, future audiences. I do this by
looking at various current reading models that obviously fall short when it comes to
describing the editorial process. That is, they work well for the reading process, in
general, but end before a reader can begin to read like an editor.
Finally, in Chapter 5,1 offer a new model for teaching the editorial process in
college composition classes. It is a model that has not yet been tested; it may work
well, and it might not. This model highlights an editors job of reading and rereading
and rereading. And more, it draws attention to something most readers dont contend
with: working with writers during their creation processes. My hope is to underscore
the importance of reading in the peer response process, and of reading differently, that
is, reading like an editor.

In Louise Rosenblatts Preface to the Paperback Edition of The Reader,
The Text, The Poem, she wrote, Once published, a book leads its own life in
transaction with readers (vii). If editors are readers and if the editorial process
should begin long before anything becomes published, then a text should lead its
own life in transaction with readers even before it is published, before it becomes a
book. But in order to understand the process of how texts become books, its
necessary to understand how readers become editors. What is an editor, anyway?
And what is the editorial process? What is the relationship between editor, writer,
and text? And is the writers presence during the transaction between text and editor
a help or a hindrance, especially since the text has not completely left its writers
Obviously, there are a lot of questions, and defining editing is not as easy as
it would seem. Professionally, each book I edit is different from the next primarily
because each writer is different. How, then, does an editor adapt her editing style to
these different writers? Does an editor interact with the text or with the author or
with both? The effects an editor has on the negotiation of meaning will change
dramatically from text to text. In one book, an author may accept all of my changes

and answer all of my queries, and in another book the author may reject all of my
changes and answer only some questions, if any. Can the editorial process
accommodate these inconsistencies?
A preliminary definition of an editor and editing can be this: an editor is
either the same person as the person who wrote the text, or the editor can be a
different persona second or third readerwho is actively engaged in a dialogue
of the editorial process, of making meaning, of bringing meaning to fruition, with a
writer. There is a lot to clarify in that sentencethe dialogue being the most
contentious. What that means, though, is that an editor can be the writer who is
having a back-and-forth discussion with himself, such as when the writer rereads
his text and asks himself questions or comes up with ideas on how to proceed (Is
that what I really meant to say? What do I say next?). Or, as John Bryant defines
this person in The Fluid Text, editors are readers empowered to alter the text
(Bryant 98)the readers who will help writers see where they are in the writing
process. Finally, the editor can be a reader (again, not the writer) who is engaged in
discussions with other readers of the same text. In comp classes, these editors may
consist of several peer responders who have gathered in small groups to discuss one
persons text. Therefore, the editor is an interlocutoran important conveyor of
information, not necessarily attached to a particular point of view, yet very much
devoted to the making and interpretation of meaning.

But before I can go further in defining editing, I must, first, clarify some key
terminology. This will make it easier later on to come up with a new model for
teaching the editorial process.
Author Versus Writer
Bryant makes a clear distinction between author and writer. Bryant says
an author appears only at the moment of cultural recognition (11) with some
sort of intended authority, while a writer performs a human process and is
simply one who writes [sic] and is bom at the moment of his or her act of writing
(11). Therefore, in the publishing profession, the writers an editor works with are, in
fact, authors because their manuscripts have been contractually accepted, and
publication is imminent. They are on the verge of cultural recognition. They are
generally considered experts in their fields and lend a sense of authority to the text.
Publishing the experts text is the goal of the industry, it is business, and process
is often overlooked, or, at least, its assumed that much of the writing process
happened earlier on. An entire catalogue of people then join forces to bring that
authors work to fruition (literary agents, editors, publishers, marketing associates,
designers, accountants, printers etc.). This is what Rosenblatt means when she says,
Once published, a book leads its own life in transaction with readers. When
readers read published works, the author is not only not present but may not even be

alive. And each step of the publication system adds yet one more interpretation of
the writers original, autonomous vision.
On the other hand, in the classroom, the writers an editor works with are,
indeed, very much alive and are often sitting at the next desk. While these student
writers are often still writing early drafts, the idea of publishing is usually far off in
the distance. Here, the writer is considered to be a writer, rather than an author,
because the writing isnt published, nor is there any guarantee of it on the horizon.
Even though I just argued that the publishing industrys goal is to publish
authors rather than writers and that the writing process is often thought to have
already happened, it is not entirely true. As a copy editor, I take it very seriously
that the authors I work with are real, living people; they are writers who are still
writing their texts, and they are as emotional about and attached to their texts as any
student writer. Whats more, they value the editorial process, or at least pretend to.
They realize the benefits of engaging readers before their books go to press.
The Confusion
The Chicago Manual of Style (hereafter referred to as CMS), which is the
primary style manual for the publishing industry, breaks down the different levels
of editing: development editing, substantive editing, and mechanical editing (71).

Substantive editing and mechanical editing are collectively known as
copyediting, whereas development editing is an entirely different beast.
Copy editing is whats usually being referred to when educators place editing at the
very end of the writing process, when writers fear the wielding red pen, and when
writers become involved in rephrasing for smoothness or eliminating ambiguity,
reorganizing or tightening, reducing or simplifying, as well as checking for
consistency in capitalization, spelling, hyphenation ... correctness of punctuation,
etc. (72-73). Jane Harrigan exchanges the term copyediting with editing
(Newkirk 152), as do many, if not most, educators, as if copyediting and editing are
the same thing (I am arguing that they are not). Anne-Louise Pacheco calls
copyediting peer editing (5), which, she says, is not to be confused with peer
response. If our class schedule allows time for peer editing, this needs to be a
separate function from peer response to the early drafts of a paper. This distinction
also greatly lessens student fears about criticism. Many students resent having their
papers copyedited by peers (5-6). Pacheco goes on to say, Students who are not
skilled in mechanics also feel better able to participate [in peer response] if it is
clear that they are responding to thesis, development, and language rather than to
spelling and punctuation (6).
As a student of the writing process, I have taken a long time to realize the
difference between peer editing and peer response, and it has taken even longer to
figure out the exact locus of editing in a system that is a process, which implies

something that is ongoing or returned to again and again. One could simply say that
editing is ongoing, and it happens all the time throughout the writing process, and
those would both be correct statements. To support these statements, one could look
to the publishing industry and see how every term seems to come attached to the
word editor: copy editor, acquisitions editor, project editor, managing editor....
But once one realizes there are different kinds of editors, as well as different kinds
of editing, the issue becomes more complicated.
Clearly, copyediting is placed at the end of the writing process, and this is
true not only in the classroom but also in the publishing industry. Harrigan calls
copyediting the last sentry between writer and readers (Newkirk 152). However,
copyediting and editing are two very different things. The editing Im talking
about is what CMS calls development editing. Development editing happens before
copyediting and, in the classroom, it is not even called editing. Educators call this
peer response, which, Pacheco claims, is not considered editing. Why isnt peer
response called editing or development editing? CMS defines development editing
as editing that addresses more radically the content of a work, the way material
should be presented, the need for more or less documentation and how it should be
handled ... Since editing of this kind may involve total rewriting or reorganization
of work, it should be done before copyediting begins {CMS 71).
Donald Murray, in his book Write to Learn, calls development editing
revising. He argues that writers need to combine the two processes of revising and

copyediting into the part of the writing process he calls clarifying, and he comes up
with a new name for it: Revit. Revise and edit. We keep trying to separate those
activities, but they cant be separated so we should combine the word (208).
Whats confusing is that he uses the word edit to mean copyedit, and he uses
revise to mean development edit. For Murray, though, the editor is the writer,
and the clarifying process happens when the writer rereads his own work: When
our message is filled out in a draft, our brain reads it to see what has been said, if it
is worth saying, and how well it is said... We clarify by ordering and reordering
the information we are collecting and recollecting (Murray 7). His reasons for
combining both revising and copyediting is because, he says, the two processes run
into each other: We need to resee the textrevisionmaking major changes in
topic, focus, order, pace ... and we need to edit each potential text, working with
word, phrase, line, sentence . checking spelling, grammar, and mechanics ...
When you change one word, it may lead to a new focus and more research; a
different topic may mean extensive changes in language. Revit (208). Here,
Murray addresses development editingmaking major changes in topic, focus,
order, pacethough he does not completely capture the true nature of the task
because he does not involve a second reader, an editor, or a reader responder.
Bryant, on the other hand, takes the discussion in a different direction.
Rather than say we revise and edit at the same time (as Murray does), and rather
than say editing happens all the time throughout the writing processwhether

developmental or mechanicalBryant places revision along that continuum and, in
doing so, says that it is revision that happens all the time, not editing. He outlines
three types of revisionauthorial, editorial, and culturalthus locating editing of
any kind in only one of three revisionary prongs. Where the goal of authorial
revision is for the author to get it, that is, to produce a set of words that represent
the writers place in time and culture and self, the goal of editorial revision is to do
it better (Bryant 104). The editor attempts to bring the text closer in line with [the
editors] notion of the writers goal ... and the writers intended audience (104).
More important, Bryant equates the editing process with reading, rather than define
it as critiquing, correcting, or changing. Once a text is read by anybody, he says,
even when its reread for the first time by the writer, the text has moved a step
beyond the inscrutable moment of genesis, to the more scrutable act of revision,
and the first requirement for this leap to happen is that the writer become a reader
This is an important point. Reading is part of the editing process, or, rather,
the revision process, that has not yet been mentioned. CMA says editing is
addressing text, Websters Dictionary defines editing as preparing text (367),
and Pacheco says editing is responding to text. None of these mention that editing
is reading. But Bryants definition suggests that the reader is more intimately
involved in the creative process of writing than other theorists would admit. He
says, Writers and editors are themselves readers; they are readers empowered to

alter the text (98). A discussion on how this empowerment comes about will
occupy most of the rest of this thesis. But, first, a more thorough definition of
editing is called for because what happens during editing, and the roles of the writer
and editor in the revision process, have, thus far, remained vague.
A Relationship of Inequality
Editing is uneven and imperfect. An editor will never invest the same
amount of time and thought into a text as a writer does, and an editor will always
contribute time and thought that the writer will find unnecessary. And even though
there is an attempt by the editor to help clarify the writers meaning and intentions,
and, subsequently, an attempt by the editor to approach the writer and the text,
together, as equalsbeing on the same page, as it wereit is the writer who,
ultimately, must accomplish these tasks. Editing is the humble art of coaching or
suggesting, of drawing out the best of a writer, and then stepping back and letting
the writer and the text take over. The end product should reflect the ideas of the
writer, not the editor. However, the editors presence is there somewhere in the text,
and it should be there, especially because editing is part of the writing process.
Teachers often, mistakenly, underscore the importance of the editors presence,
perhaps because these teachers want to protect students from having their writing

critiqued, as Pacheco suggested earlier, by not even calling editing editing, but
calling it instead peer response. But are writers and editors peers?
Many texts about the revising and editing processes refer to the writer and
the editor as the same person, as I have pointed out with Murrays definition of
Revif and Bryants suggestion that the writers first reader is himself. In these
cases, the editor is on more equal grounds with the writer; the editor is as fully
invested in the writing as the writer is. But I have also suggested that the writer and
the editor are two different people. The editor is the second or third reader and
certainly not a peer whose stance with the text is equal to that of the writers. While
the writer continually acts as an editor of his own writing throughout the revision
process, in order to fully benefit from revision, a writer must engage another reader.
Revision means, literally, reseeing; and in the scope of editing, revision could mean
reseeing with new eyes. A second reader can look at something with new eyes, more
effectively than a writer because, simply, the editor did not write the text, and she
can interpret the text anew. But while an editor can only envision and interpret a
text in a way that is unique to the writers, the actual work of revising is something
only a writer can do. Only a writer can resee since the writer had the vision in the
first place. Only a writer can reorganize, refocus, explore new ideas, eliminate
passages, or add more support for an argument. Therefore, the editors role in the
revision process is to read something, for the first time, with fresh eyesnot to
resee, at least not until subsequent versions are available for the editor to read and,

therefore, reread. The editors main purpose, then, is to help the writer resee his
own text. So, the editor needs to read, first, and then respond to the text and to the
writerreader response rather than peer response. Finally, the editor needs to stand
back and let the writer work the revision.
Sondra Perl, a Lehman College professor, who has made a career out of
studying the composing process, claims that, when writing, our goal is likely to be
different: not so much to say what we mean as to adjust or change what we mean
till our words are true or well argued or valid or interesting (Perl 2004, vii). This is
also the goal of the editing process. Perhaps Perl is describing the revision process,
the recursion that happens as writers and editors return to the text, over and over,
and helps writers, particularly, create meaning. In her book Felt Sense, Perl
explores this part of the writing process: making sense. She claims that our bodies
know more than we can ever communicate through writingthat there is a tacit
foreknowledge of undiscovered things that is embedded not just in the mind but
somewhere in the body, as well (xii). This foreknowledge is what she calls felt
sense. The term, felt sense, was coined by psychologist Eugene T. Gendlin, and
written about at length in his book called Focusing. Published in the late 1970s,
Focusing explores what Gendlin considers to be a revolutionary approach to
traditional psychologist-client therapy. He says, The most important rule for a
therapist or friend to observe, in helping someone to focus, is to stay out of the

focusers way (Gendlin 10). Isnt this, exactly, what an editor should do for a
writer and what teachers should do for student writers? Stand out of the writers
way while the writer focuses on revision? That is, an editor needs to help the writer
see where they are in the writing process. The editor can offer the writer verbal or
written feedback, ideas, criticisms, possibly even some new tools the writer can use
to communicate a thought more effectively; but then the editor needs to sit back,
leave the room, be quiet, whatever it takes to let the writer do whats necessary to
make the revision. In other words, at some point in the editorial process, the editor
needs to back off so that the writer can refocus on their felt sense about the writing,
listen to their thoughts, pay attention, adjust and change what they mean until their
words are true or well argued or valid or interesting.
In the quest to focus on a felt sense and construct meaning out of what may
be several individual and/or random thoughts, there is an inherent slowing down,
not a speeding up, in the writing process. That is, there cannot be a rush for the
writer to get it (Bryant 100) because in order to get it, or get at felt sense, the
writer must slow down. In 1980, Perl published a relatively short article called
Understanding Composing, in which she looks at the recursive acts that writers
engage in and how this somewhat backward movement of returning to the text helps
the writer slow down, yet it also helps move the writing forward. The recursiveness
helps the writer access his felt sense, helps him focus, and then helps him nail down
the words that can describe the meaning he is trying to construct. What Perl doesnt

mention is the editors role in this process. In fact, nobody who writes about felt
sense and recursiveness (Perl, Gendlin, Peter Elbow, to name a few) mention the
role of the editor. And perhaps I will open myself up to derision by proposing that
the editor plays a pivotal role in felt sense, in helping the writer focus, and in
helping the writer return to the text again and again. Elbow says, Consulting felt
sense and getting closer to our exact intention are revisingand teach substantive
rather than cosmetic revising (Elbow 22).
Perl says that this basic backward movement into the body (felt sense), or
into the text, begins with paying attention (Perl 1980, 366). If we are given a
topic, it begins with the taking the topic in and attending to what it evokes in us.
There is less figuring out an answer and more waiting to see what forms (366).
An editor doesnt help a writer figure it out as much as she helps him attend to the
evocation so that, then, the writer can see what forms. According to Perl, the parts
of writing that recur seem to vary from writer to writer. Three of these that she
mentions are: (1) rereading bits of the discourse; (2) returning to the writers notion
of the topic throughout the process of writing, such as a key word, rather than
rereading entire chunks or bits of the writing itself; and (3) retreating to the feelings
or nonverbalized perceptions that surround the words (364). Note that two of these
three recurrences involve reading, or rereading, which is why the recursive element
of the writing process lends itself so well to editing. The editor, who is a reader (a
second reader), does not and cannot return to the writing the same way that the

writer does. All the editor can do is help the writer do this. In the process, the editor
not only stands out of the way of the writer, but also helps the writer stand out of
the way of himself.
The Joint Goal of Meaning-Making
To mark a text is also to make it. These are the words of Joe Bray from
the introduction to his book Ma(r)king the Text: Presentation of Meaning on the
Literary Page (xvii). Though the book discusses the topic of historical
editingwhich is the profession of editing versions of works written by writers
who have long since passed awaysuch as Shakespeare, Dickinson, Woolf,
etc.Brays statement is loaded with meaning. It points to a possible collaboration
between writer and editor and the goal of meaning-making between these two
people; and it also suggests that editing is an act of writingit is part of the creative
process. By physically marking the text, as editors usually do with a red pen, an
editor continues the process of writing where the writer may have left off or where
the text is unclear or confusing. How, then, is it possible to define the relationship
between writer and editor when the editor becomes another writer in the process? Is
it a co-laboring (a collaboration), in which text is being created by two people? Is it
an interaction? A transaction? Is it a partnership, with which the writer and editor
claim equal ownership?

Bryant argues that collaboration is not the right word for what goes on
between writer and editor:
Our most immediate notion of collaboration is that texts come into
being with two or more individuals laboring together shoulder to
shoulder (like lyricist and composer at the piano) as a single
sensibility, but in fact that practice almost never happens. Most
collaboration derives from conflict. (Bryant 7)
That is, these collaboratorseditorsread the text with fresh eyes and offer
commentary that is often at odds with the writers intentionsthe editor isnt
participating in the writers original act of trying to get it, but in trying to make it
better. Sometimes, editors suggest changes, and in some cases, they demand
changes (7). Bryant goes on to say, In virtually all these cases, the collaborators
do not work together from the inception of the project; rather, the collaboration
begins with one person acting as an editor to shape what a principal writer has
written (7). In other words, an editor is not an authorial collaboratorshe is not an
authoras much as Joe Bray implies when he says, To mark a text is to make it.
Nor is an editor a primary, or original, shaper of the text. Instead, she is a secondary
shaper, or, what Bryant calls, an agent of textual fluidity (7).
What that means, as I have been suggesting, is that an editor assists the
writer in creating multiple drafts of a text, the meanings of which change and,
ideally, conclude with the writer finally saying what hes trying to say in the best

way possible. The fact of revision manifests the intent to alter meaning (Bryant
9). That is, the moment the text is marked, whether by the writer or the editor, the
intent to change meaning becomes evident. Bryant uses an example of Herman
Melville changing the word savage to islander in subsequent drafts of Moby-Dick,
yet we may not presume to know precisely what Melville intended to mean [by the
change] .. but we know that his change from one to the other is itself conscious
and meaningful (9). Here, we are reminded of Donald Murrays Revit: Each
changewhat is taken out, what is put in, what is reorderedis a new experiment
in meaning (Murray 240).
This is contrary to Louise Rosenblatts Reader Response Theory, in which,
she says, the meaning of the text is constructed by its readers, not writer or editors.
She says: Meaning will emerge from a network of relationships among the things
symbolized as he [the reader] senses them (Rosenblatt 11). Rosenblatt says that
readers respond to stimuli in the text and that the readers creation of a poem out
of a text must be an active, self-ordering, and self-corrective process (11). In this
sense, then, the relationship between writer and editor becomes an opportunity for
the writer to teach or persuade an audience and for the writer to have the
opportunity to see how his truth affects a reader.
This relationship between writer and editor is similar to the relationship
Platos Socrates placed between a rhetor and his audience. Yet Socrates felt that the
written word would diminish the rhetors ability to persuade and, therefore, the

rhetor and the audience needed to meet face to face. By being able to watch and
gauge how an audience responded, the rhetor could make appropriate adjustments
to an argument. Socrates, being apprehensive about a new discipline called
writing, viewed the writing audience as being mute and the written word as
unable to explain itself (ODonnell 21). But, here, in the editorial process, one of
the writers first audiences (the editor) is anything but mutehence, the response
part of peer response.
In the fifth century B.C.E., Socrates could not have predicted the editorial
process that would develop twenty-five hundred years later. He did not know what
an editor was, and he would not have thought to position this editor in the place of
his beloved, docile, inquisitive youthhis interlocutorwho had an active and
flexible understanding of the authoritative older mans ideas (20). Yet, this is what
peer response in the composition classroom could be and sometimes is: the face-to-
faceness of Socrates indoctrinating dialogues in which the rhetor (the writer) could
evaluate the effects of his argument on his audience (the editor). In this case,
meaning-making is not a joint effort; the dialogue is a cross-examination to ensure
the rhetors point is coming across. Is the Socratic Method effective in teaching the
editing process? Yes, in that it helps the writer and editor focus on the text and on
what information the editor is gleaning from it. And, no, in that the Socratic Method
discounts the meaning that is produced by the editor.

Ayn Rand, in her book The Art of Nonfiction, divides the roles of writing
and editing like this: the writer works from a subconscious, emotional, personal,
non-questioning place, while an editor is conscious, unemotional, impersonal, and
questioning (Rand 88). This breakdown of roles suggests that writing is the
complete opposite, the antithesis, of editing, and that these two processes are, in
fact, in opposition to each other, which is possibly how Socrates would have wanted
it to be. Editing, here, is the part of a dialectic process in which logic or illogic is
exposed, where fallacies are revealed, and where unresolved conflicts become
resolved. This could be an ideal situation, especially for a writing teacher who
wants students to find the inaccuracies in an argument. But editing should not
always be like this. The editor should not cross-examine the writer, or vice versa,
the way the rhetor cross-examines the interlocutor in the Socratic Method. This
process comes close to resembling debate, which Websters defines as a regulated
discussion of a proposition between two matched sides. And, as I have previously
pointed out, the sides are not matched. Equality is not the goal of editing because
the editor is not an equal partner in meaning-making.
For Rand, the back and forth collaboration between writer and editor
consists of a continual expose, from the point of view of the editor, of what works
and what doesnt work and constant revelations of where an argument breaks down.
In this way, Rands model could be more representative of the dialectic triad
created by Hegel in the early 1800s, in which thesis (writer) and antithesis (editor)

combine to form synthesis (the edited, published text). This is a very brief definition
of Hegels Dialectic. What typically happens as editing progresses through these
stages is the editor makes changes (antithesis) to the original draft (thesis), and the
writer not only rejects some of the editors changes, but then may change the
editors changes (synthesis)that is, the writer edits the edits. This is what Niki
Raapana and Nordica Friedrich describe as the constant conflict and continual
merging of opposite ideologies (Raapana). According to Hegel, this continual
merging of opposite ideologies would eventually lead to final perfection
(Raapana). The problem with Hegels model, as applied to the editorial process, is
that the writer feels put on the defensive, and the editor feels that there is no trust or
respect from the writer, no belief from the writer that the editor knows what shes
doing. The dialectic opposition of the writer and editor doesnt work, then, and, in
fact, may become downright combative. This dilemma is common because most
writers regard editors as nothing less than uneducated enemies.
But what about synthesis? It would not be fair to drop this concept in light
of discovering that thesis and antithesis may not work in the synthesis of the
editorial process. But synthesis, itself, does work, and to illustrate this I will turn to
Samuel Taylor Coleridges organic theory. In this theory, there is no thesis and
antithesis. The method of arriving at synthesis is through an organic, living, ever-
changing model of the imagination. If a text is considered the organic form that is
being worked with by the editor and writer, the text shapes as it develops itself

from within and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the
perfection of its outward form (Coleridge as quoted in Rosenblatt 51). If an editor
marks a text and, therefore, contributes to the creative process of writing the text,
and if a writer edits the editors marks, then the text is continually evolving,
changing, growing. Rosenblatt says, Literary creation is, after all, basically the
making of choices. No matter whether the poem seems to have sprung full-blown
for recording in the poets manuscript, or whether dozens of versions and revisions
exist, a process of selection from the resources of the language has occurred (51).
Rosenblatt, though, never explicitly addresses the editorial process when she
mentions literary creation. What she basically arrives at in her argument is that
readers put together visual and literary clues in order to make meaning, which may
not be the intended meaning of the author, but rather an organically created
meaning between, first, the writer and the text and, second, the text and the reader.
The reader, she says, goes through a process of sorting the relevant from the
irrelevant [clues] in a continuing process of selection, revision, and expansion
(53), which is also what an editor does. It is a selecting out and synthesizing
process. It requires the reader, Rosenblatt says, to carry on a continuing,
constructive, shaping activity (53). In the editorial process both writer and editor
participate in this shaping activity, which, in turn, is how the text evolves and
how meaning is ultimately created.

As I established in the previous chapter, editing of any kind begins and ends
with reading. Nothing can happen editorially until the editor reads the text.
Paragraphs cant be rearranged, words cant be changed, grammar cant be fixed,
ideas cant be thought of, and the writer and editor cant even begin to talk about
the text. Wolfgang Iser says it best in his landmark book The Act of Reading-. One
thing that is clear is that reading is the essential precondition for all processes of
literary interpretation (20). Iser does not talk specifically about editing, just as
Rosenblatt does not, but it can be assumed that literary interpretation includes the
editorial process since it involves at least one person who is trying to make sense of
the text.
When any reader picks up the text that is to be read, they must have in mind,
even if subconsciously, what sort of reading they will be performing. Are they
reading only for information on how to do something, such as with reading recipes
or instructions (i.e., taking an efferent stance toward the text in order to carry away
information)? Will they be reading in order to experience the language, by engaging
all the senses, in order to construct meaning (i.e., taking an aesthetic stance)? Will
they be reading in order to study techniques the writer used that helped create a

certain effect (reading like a writer)? Or will they be reading to offer some sort of
response to the writer? If its the latter, then they will be reading as an editor.
I ended the previous chapter by positioning editors as people who read, after
drawing attention to the editorial actions that take place during the writing
process-interlocution and coercion, rather than correction. In this chapter, I will
examine how an editor actually reads differently, that is, how she reads as an editor
rather than as a reader or as a writer.
Rosenblatt, hypothetically, might argue that an editor cannot perform the
work of an editor until she has read the text transactionally, both efferently and
aesthetically. That is, the text needs to be lived through, realizedand, hopefully,
all readers learn to experience texts this way. The transaction is basically between
the reader and what he senses the words as pointing to (Rosenblatt 21). An editor
approaches the text at a particular place and time, which is unique to the time and
place a different editor may approach the same text. Then, the reader looks to the
text, and the text is activated by the reader (18). The text becomes more than just
the thing to which an editor responds because that particular editor brings with her a
unique history of language and life experiences, and the text activates for each
editor a different set of known knowledge and new possibilities (18). This
creates what Iser called in the 1970s and 80s the wandering viewpoint.

The wandering point of view describes the readers presence in the text. Iser
says, The readers enjoyment begins when he himself becomes productive, i.e.,
when the text allows him to bring his own faculties into play (Iser 108). And once
the reader becomes productive, then, in effect, the reader becomes a character in the
text. He assumes a position from which he can evaluate, consider, and judge the text
very subjectively. The viewpoint wanders because the relationship between known
knowledge and new possibilities is constantly fluctuating as the reader reads. Each
new part of the text will answer expectations (either positively or negatively) and,
at the same time, will arouse new expectations (111). The readers presence, or
point of view, is situated at the very time and place that the known and the new
collide. It is found in that ah-ha! moment when connections are made, questions are
answered, and new possibilities cant be ignored. Its a very active time and place.
Why is it important to know where the readers presence is in the text?
Because Isers terminologywandering viewpointhas been replaced in the 1990s
and early 2000s with the phrases reading like a writer and reading like a reader.
By examining these two phrases we can begin to understand what it means to read
like an editor. Let me say it this way: all of these peoplewriter, reader, and
editorread a text from a particular point of view and evaluate the text from these
unique positions. The interplay between known knowledge and new information
has to do with the faculties writers, readers, and editors bring to the reading

Throughout my discussion, though, please bear in mind that whenever
talking about different types of readers, I carry no belief that one is better than
another. A reader who reads as an editor, for example, is not any better, more
thorough, or more important than a reader who reads like a writer. One type of
reader does not automatically make for a more complete and fulfilling reading
experience. Editors are not ideal readers. Rosenblatt says there are no ideal
readers; there should only be readers who honor their own relationship with the text
(140). Editors certainly fall into this category. But before looking in-depth at how
editors read, lets first look at how readers read as writers and how readers read as
readers, which will help create a perspective on the differences between these three
types of reading.
Reading Like a Writer
Steve Peha begins an online essay, Reading Like a Reader-Reading Like a
Writer, by asking this question: What do readers do when they read? (1). He says
its not as funny a question as it sounds because, as he looks out to his students who
are reading, he has no way of knowing what is going on in their heads or how they
are processing all of the cues and clues on the page. Likewise, what happens when a
teacher looks out to a room full of students who are editing? How is it possible to
find out what these editors are thinking that may be different than what readers are

thinking? Is there a difference? The truth is we can never know what people are
thinking, but we can teach them to become better at what they dowriting, reading,
and editingby teaching them to read in different ways.
In Wondrous Words, Katie Wood Ray says that reading like a writer means
reading with a sense of possibility (14). Once you see yourself as a writer, all
kinds of writing techniquesideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence
fluency, conventionswill become obvious as you read, and you will begin to
think of the possibilities these techniques will bring to your own writing. In
composition classes, students can become cognizant of these possibilities by
reading the works of the writers they love and examining how those writers
communicate certain messages and how certain techniques affect their reading
experience. Students learn to mirror those techniques and begin incorporating them
into their own writing.
I had a reading-as-a-writer experience when I was an assistant editor at a
bicycle-racing magazineVeloNews. I was proofreading a story my boss had
written about a training ride he had taken in France with a professional European
cycling team. He was having the time of his life, attacking on the climbs and
sprinting down the hills, being an integral part of a team that was ranked number
one in the world, until suddenly, as the peloton swooped from a descent and
rounded a comer into a shadowy woods, a black kitten was barely spotted, at the
last second, playfully rolling around in the middle of the road. The group became

unglued. Some pedaled off the road and twisted around trees; others slammed into
each other and onto the tarmac; my boss broke free and rode away! It was heroic! I
dont remember what happened to the kitten. It was not his most interesting story,
content-wise, but I was a captivated reader because his storytelling skills were at his
very best. What made it so good? I got a pen and paper and wrote notes, paragraph
by paragraph, about how I thought the story developed. What was being added to
each new paragraph that helped the tension build? Was it the adverbs? The
unfinished dialogue? Was there foreshadowing? Where was the subplot introduced?
Did it climax at the same time as the main story? What sort of sentence-length
variation had he used?
I had no idea, at the time, that I had abandoned reading like an editor,
momentarily, and began reading like a writer. I wanted to get into my bosss
mindnot his mind as a cyclist, but his mind as a writerand really figure out how
he wrote that story. Reading like a writer is a method that assumes the reader is a
writer. We, as writers, move beyond what is being said, or what the reader is
interpreting or reasoning, and look at how it is being said. Specifically [when we
read as writers], Peha writes, we look at the techniques the writer is using to get
his or her message across and how those techniques affect us as we experience the
text (1).
Ray suggests teaching students to read both as readers and as writers by
beginning the school year with students reading, first, as readersthat is, in her

words, spending time getting to know the textand then helping them develop
their reading skills as the year progresses so that, finally, by the end of the year they
are reading as writers (116). But this creates the misconception that reading like a
reader is a prerequisite to reading like a writer, which simply is not true. Reading
like a reader and reading like a writer are both prerequisites, though, to reading like
an editor. Rays investment in reading, in general, early in the year probably pays
off when introducing the idea that writers do read and that reading is an integral part
of the writing process.
Ideally, students will learn how to read as writers and learn how to examine
texts closely throughout the school year. Francine Prose writes in Reading Like a
Writer, Ive always thought that a close-reading course should at least be a
companion, if not an alternative, to the writing workshop (11). By close reading,
she means, beginning at the beginning, lingering over every word, every phrase,
every image, considering how it enhances and contributes to the story as a whole
(11). Prose argues that the workshop format usually focuses on what a writer has
done wrong with a text by encouraging peer responders to find the problem spots
and making some suggestions on how the problems can be fixed. If students can
read what they consider to be good literature or if they can read the writers theyd
like to emulate while they are in the process of writing their own pieces, then the
focus of the workshop may change from finding whats wrong to discovering more
options and more possibilities. Frank Smith also points out that there is, frankly, too

much to learn about writing during a class, and writers must rely on reading to help
them learn how to write (Smith 1988, 26).
Clearly, reading like a writer is beneficial for would-be writers; it helps
them learn how to write. But does reading like a writer help editors learn how to
edit? When I examined my editors cycling story from the point of view of a writer,
how did that help me with the task of editing? It helped me in more ways than not. I
slowed my reading and lingered over every word, every phrase, every image. I was
able to see how he built tension, and I was able to identify if or when his pattern
broke down or strayed. Perhaps those were intentional strays; I didnt know. All I
could do was mark those spots and ask him if hed rather continue with his pattern
in those places, telling him that I had felt tension building and then breaking down.
So, yes, when an editor reads like a writer there is a benefit to the writer and the
writing. In a case like this, the editormeisnt trying to become the writer or a
co-writer, but rather she is trying to evaluate the text from the same point of view as
the original writer, to step into that persons shoes, momentarily, so that future
readers will benefit from a more clearly written text.
Reading Like a Reader
Its not enough, though, for editors to be able to read like writers.
Additionally, they must somehow understand how readers might experience a text

in myriad ways. In effect, editors must also become marketersthe people who
understand, to a tee, who their readers are and why those readers would want to
read a particular text. Not only that, but editors must be able to read and experience
the text as if they were those readers; editors must always have other readers in
mind. This is what is called reading like a reader. How is a certain reader going to
encounter the text? What will be going on in their minds when they read this? Will
the text be more comprehensible to one reader than it is to another? A writer reads
like a writer because he is writing writer-based drafts of his own, and he needs to
learn techniques for doing that. An editor reads writer-based drafts, yet with the
intent of helping the writer turn it into reader-based drafts. So, the editor assumes
the persona of the potential audience but with a lot of knowledge about how to
When I worked at VeloNews, the editors and writers constantly referred to a
Reader Profile that the advertising department had created. This pamphlet helped
the sales reps go after advertising revenue from companies who catered to people
who matched the demographics of our typical reader. But in the editorial
department, we didnt care so much about the sales reps; what was more important
was knowing that our typical reader was a 55-year-old white male, who was
married, and had two road bikes, one mountain bike (going on two), and a two-car
garage. His average salary was $120,000, and he enjoyed taking vacations in France
(sans wife) in July with bicycle touring companies that would get him up close to

the daily races and winners of the Tour de France. He would love the story my boss
had written about going on a training ride with a world-class team; he would eat it
up. And during our readers spin class at his local health club, he would close his
eyes and visualize that he, too, was in Europe, hanging on the wheels of his heroes,
zipping down the hills and into dark forests. We didnt just write for this reader, but
we edited for him as well. When we read and reread the stories that were going to
press, we read with that man in mind.
Not all editors have the luxury of pinpointing a particular audience, right
down to their brand of toothpaste, and often its not necessary to do this. But the
more a writer knows about his intended audience the better, because then the
writers intended meaning may be more easily communicated and ingested. An
editor, therefore, steps in and lets the writer rehearse with her before going in front
of the often larger, intended audience. A lot goes on, mentally, during this rehearsal.
But Peha makes this process sound simple. He describes reading like a reader as
what we think of as the normal way of reading where we try to figure out what a
piece of writing means by understanding the words a writer is using (Peha 1). He
points to six things a reader does while reading as a reader, and these are probably
the things his students are doing as he looks out over the pool of them in his

Connecting (schema)
Likewise, Debbie Milleran early-childhood literacy instructoruses a
1992 study of proficient reading by researchers to help her develop reading
curricula for first-, second-, and third-graders (Pearson, Dole, Duffy, and Roehler).
Millers findings from the study echo much of Pehas observations of what readers
are doing as they read, and she writes in her book Reading with Meaning that the
research showed that active, thoughtful, proficient readers construct meaning by
using the following strategies:
Asking questions of themselves, the author, and the texts they read
Drawing inferences from the text to form conclusions, making critical
judgments, and creating unique interpretations (inferring)
Activating relevant, prior knowledge before, during, and after reading text
Creating visual and other sensory images from text during and after
reading (feeling)
Determining the most important ideas and themes in a text (summarizing)
Synthesizing what they read (evaluating) (Miller 8)

The researchers Miller refers toPearson et al.had spent nearly ten years
investigating what proficient readers do to comprehend text, and what less
successful readers fail to do.... From this work, [they] identified comprehension
strategies that successful readers of all ages use routinely to construct meaning
when they read and made suggestions on how teachers can teach these
strategiesmostly that they do need to teach these strategies, and they need to be
taught for long periods of time (8). The comprehension strategies that were
identifiedschema, inference, questioning, synthesis, and summaryare described
below. My intent in describing these strategies is to convince writing educators that
not only do we need to teach students to read as writers, but if we want them to
learn to become editors we also need to teach them to read as proficient readers. A
combination of these two methods of reading, in some form, will help us design a
new model for teaching the editorial process: reading as an editor.
Pehas frustration at not knowing what was going on inside his students
heads as they read became Millers modus operandi: teach the reader, not the text
(12). She didnt necessarily want to know what students were thinking, but she
wanted them to know and be aware of how they were thinking and how they were
comprehending as they read. She wanted her readers to become fully engaged in the
act of reading and know and embrace the idea that great readers think and read, at

the same time! By teaching her students to pay attention to their thought processes,
Miller headed down the road of teaching readers to read as readers, to catch
themselves thinking about their reading. In turn, students gained greater
comprehension skills, which made them better overall readers, whether reading as
writers, readers, or editors.
(In a similar vein, the teachers, past and present, at Naropa Universitys
writing programAllen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, etc.incorporate
metacognition activities, thinking about thinking, into the writing process. They say
to their students, Catch yourself thinking. In order to learn how to catch yourself
thinking, sitting meditation is taught as a tool to help students not only to let their
minds wander, which will also benefit their writing by helping them become more
fluent, but also to pay attention to how thoughts change from one to another. You
say to yourself, Oh, theres a new thought... There I go back to that again. The
flow of thoughts, and the awareness of that flow, will then help students during
freewriting exercises. They wont be caught off-guard when thoughts change from
one to another, and, in fact, students will begin making better decisions on how long
to stay with one thought and when to change to a different thought. They also learn
not to judge their thinking, that is, they learn that because the mind continuously
wanders, it is neither good nor bad. Wandering is its constant state. Consequently,
by being cognizant of the thought processes, the mind remains engaged at all

Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann, in their book Mosaic of
Thought, wrote that we, as educators, need to ask whether our students are aware
enough of their thinking during reading to be able to solve problems and enhance
their comprehension as they read (37). Can [students] stop and take action where
needed? In other words, if students arent comprehending a text, are they actually
able to say to themselves, I am not understanding this? Keene and Zimmerman
claim that many students are, indeed, not aware of their own comprehension. They
dont have a well-developed sense of what they need to know when reading a piece
or what they need to do when their comprehension breaks down (39).
In order to address these issues, Miller and Keene and Zimmermann turn to
modeling as a way for teachers to show what can be done when comprehension
breaks down. For example, a teacher may begin reading a text out loud. She may
stop after a particular phrase and say, I want to stop right here because Im not sure
what is happening. Likewise, on an overhead projector, a teacher may place a copy
of a passage from something thats being read in class. As she reads it, she may stop
and say, I dont really understand this part, and then she may make a note in the
margin about not understanding it or about what she thinks it might mean. This sort
of modeling will help students become more aware of when they are
comprehending a text and when they are not.
Editors monitor their comprehension during reading at all times, or, at least,
they should. When I dont understand something, I make a note either in the margin

or on a yellow sticky. After I finish the text, I return to my note. Perhaps the
passage makes more sense after having read the entire piece. Or perhaps I need to
use one of the following five methods to aid my comprehension. But, in the end, if
my comprehension is still lacking, I will most likely need to inform the author.
Keene and Zimmermann package the concept of known and new under
the term schema, which is not a new term for reading theorists. Earlier, I wrote
that when known information and new possibilities come together, that is, when
there is an ah-ha! moment, the readers place in the text is defined. Here, known
and new are described as a tool for helping readers become more aware of their
comprehension processes. Keene and Zimmermann describe schema this way:
Readers think about things that they already know [in relation to the text], things
that have happened to them that are like the things that are happening in a book.
That means that great readers ... understand the story better if they think about
their own experiences while they read (Keene and Zimmermann 55). Relating
unfamiliar text to a readers prior world knowledge happens in three different
ways: text-to-self connections (whats happening in the book reminds the reader of
something in their own life); text-to-text connections (whats happening in the book
reminds the reader of something in another book); and text-to-world connections

(whats happening in the book reminds the reader of something they know about the
world) (55).
By being aware of known and new knowledge, students will begin to
witness how what they already know will be changed by what they have recently
read. Its important for an editor to make these connections, while they read, so that
when giving feedback, an editor can demonstrate to the writer how they interpreted
the text. Of course, it will be different for each editor, but it will be valuable
information for the writer while working on revisions.
When we read, Keene and Zimmermann claim we stretch the limits of the
literal text by folding our experience and belief into the literal meanings in the text,
creating a new interpretation, an inference (147). Inference goes beyond the
surface structure of a text, the literal interpretation, and into its deep structure. To
infer means that we make it, the text, our own. Miller says, When readers infer,
they use their prior knowledge [schema] and textual clues to draw conclusions and
form unique interpretations of text (Miller 107). This helps us understand the text
better, at least, in terms of ourselves. But, here, editors must use caution. While the
editor looks to the text, and the text is activated by the editor (Rosenblatt 18), the
editor must remain keenly aware that the personal meaning created is only theirs

and nobody elses, which may or may not be anything like the personal meaning
brought to the text by future readers. Editors need to think of other readers and need
to have the cognitive agility to consider what parts of a text will help other readers
make their own inferences.
Questions are our unspoken hungers (Keene and Zimmerman 118). They
are essential to being human. Research on reading shows that children who struggle
as readers tend not to ask questions at any time when they readbefore, during, or
after (Miller 125). The same is true for editors. Those editors who dont ask
questionseither while reading the text or later when talking with the writerrun
the risk of not fully comprehending the text or helping the writer make the text
better. Questions, more than statements, are the best way for editors to
communicate with writers. While statements feed a writer much-appreciated and
necessary praise (This is an interesting paper), questions are what will move the
text forward to the next level (Do you mean always or almost always?).
But in terms of reading comprehension, the best readers listen to their minds
at work. They ask questions in order to do the following: clarify meaning; speculate
about text yet to be read; determine an authors intent, style, content, or format; and
locate a specific answer in the text (Keene and Zimmermann 119). To teach

students to do this, teachers may want to read aloud from a text, stopping
periodically to model questions that become apparent to them (At this point, Im
wondering, why did the author write this story?). Another method is to teach
students to write questions on yellow sticky notes and place those in the text
wherever confusion or questions appear. Then, they can share those questions with
a partner, discuss them, and try to answer them.
Synthesis and Summary
Synthesis is the process of ordering, recalling, retelling, and recreating into
a coherent whole the information with which our minds are bombarded every day
(Keene and Zimmermann 169). It is a process that happens continuously throughout
reading that is necessary for readers to finally be able to summarize what they just
read. For example, as we sit around the dinner table with friends or family talking
about the day, we synthesize by recounting one event or retelling a discussion that
might have happened. We summarize the day by saying, It was a pretty good day.
Likewise, synthesis happens throughout reading, and it evolves. That is, we
continually find ways to cull and prune the details we are given, organizing what
seems the most important to what seems the least important, and each new detail
calls for more reorganization and explanation. By the end of the text, proficient
readers have actively revised their syntheses. New information was assimilated into

the readers evolving ideas about the text, rendering some earlier decisions about
the text obsolete (184).
When readers are asked to synthesize and summarize as they read, their
comprehension and memory of the text improves. This is an important task for
editors, as well, because the better we can understand and assess the text, the more
value we can bring to our discussions with the writer. Students can be taught
synthesis and summarization techniques by learning to (a) delete what they think is
trivial information, (b) delete redundant information, (c) locate topic sentences, and
(d) make up topic sentences if there in not one in the passage (Pressley 299).
There are many techniques that readers can learn in order to improve their
comprehension of texts. And one of the most important things to note is that good
readers are never single-strategy users; good readers use a variety of strategies as
they read.
Reading Like an Editor
We can look at both of these types of readingreading as a writer and
reading as a readerand see how both processes can help in the task of editing.
Writers read a text with the intent of becoming better writers, and in doing so they
examine multiple things: word choice, sentence fluency, voice, the rhetorical effects

of grammar and punctuation. Readers of all types employ various comprehension
strategies in order to understand texts better and figure out whats going onthey
use schema, inferences, questions, and synthesis and summarization. Editors
incorporate reading strategies from both camps, in various combinations, depending
on what they are reading, what the author is like to work with, and the amount of
work that needs to be accomplished.
Many books that discuss the writing process, and include chapters on the
editorial process, advocate the need to read like a writer. In order to mimic the
writing of Virginia Woolf, for example, the writer must first read one of Woolf s
texts, and then try to imitate her pacing and imagery. Watching a teacher perform
that task, firstmodelingmakes it all the more accessible to writing students.
Reading like a writer, too, means slowing down and examining how the writer used
different techniques to accomplish different effects, which, in turn, gives writers
more tools to mimic other writers. These are exercises that help writers begin
thinking that they are actually becoming writers.
But what about editors? Certainly, teachers can model the physical,
corrective marks a copy editor or proofreader makes on a page. But what reading
exercises can students do that will help them feel that they are learning to read like
editors? In the classroom, how can students learn to mimic the suggestiveness, the
interlocution of editing? Are there editors who are available to students as mentors?
By the time a text is published, the physical signs of editing have vanished: marks

made on the page, the dialogue between editor and writer, and multiple marked-up
drafts. Whats left for the would-be editor to study is an already edited text. So, how
does a teacher model and teach this type of reading? For myself, I learned
something about editing when I first began my eleven-year career at VeloNews, the
cycling magazine. A main part of my job when I first started working there was
inputting corrections that the staff copy editor had made to the stories. Later, as a
project editor at a large book publisher, The Perseus Books Group, I was able to
examine the work of copy editors and proofreaders as page proofs were returned to
me. (A project editor, or PE, is the person who manages the production of the book
by hiring and scheduling copy editors, proofreaders, indexers, designersand
actually does very little reading and/or editing.) But students dont have access to
page proofs. Nor can they listen in on editors phone calls to writers that take place
in neighboring cubicles. For these reasons, editing, and publishing in general, often
remains a gaping hole in many reading and writing curriculums.
One possibility is for teachers to contact publishing houses and project
editors and work out some kind of legal arrangement to borrow copies of copy
editors electronically edited manuscripts. It is best to acquire this version of the
text rather than the proofreaders marked-up page proofs primarily because
copyediting happens earlier in the process than proofreading. And the copy editors
version will show what happens when you edit on the computer, striking out what
you dont want and adding new text. But more than that, and perhaps most

importantly, students will be able to see all of the questions and comments that the
copy editor addressed to the writer. Having access to these queries is golden.
With these comments, students can learn how to approach writers gingerly,
respectfully, in peer groups or individually, without putting them on the defensive.
Anybody, with a little preparation, can follow the Chicago Manual of Style's
guidelines, but it is a much more difficult and acquired skill to be able to confer
with a writer via the comments function of word processing software. By studying
these queries written by professional copy editors, students will be able to decipher
the reading strategies an editor used while reading the text. Table 3.1 shows a list of
some of my own queries I wrote to Larry Devlin, author of Chief of Station, Congo.
In his memoir, Devlin writes of his appointment as head of CIA operations in the
Congo in the 1960sthe Cold War years when the location and contents of the
Congos numerous uranium mines were hotly sought after. In addition to my
queries to Devlin, I also show the part of the text the queries refer to. Finally, there
is a column identifying the type of reading comprehension strategy I evoked in
order to comprehend the text more fully. The purpose, here, is to demonstrate how
reading like an editor combines the reading strategies of reading like a writer and
reading like a reader. Oftentimes, an editor, like a reader, uses more than one
strategy to address problem spots in a text.

Table 3.1 Sample of Reading Strategies Used by Editors
Text________________________Editors Query______________Reading Strategy
This great river [the CongoJ, the largest on earth after the Amazon, was the conduit of discovery, proselytizing missionaries, conquest, and trade. Im not sure what you mean by largest. The Nile is longer than the Amazon. Do you mean largest in the sense of having the most water flow? Schema (text to world). Im using information I already know about world rivers to figure out what the author means.
Using my nose, literally, I started prowling the city at night, kndkng sniffing for mutineers high on marijuana and beer. Larry, sniffing keeps the parallelism with Using my nose. Is this change okay? Reading like a writer. The focus, here, is on consistency of language and imagery.
At the end of the evening, [Bombokoj initiated me into the tribe, making me an honorary Mongo. Do you want to move this? Is there a better place for this later on, perhaps in Chapter 19, when this fits in more chronologically, rather than using it here as foreshadowing? Reading like a writer, with regard to organization and literary devices, such as foreshadowing.
I finally went across to Brazzaville and telephoned her. Is there a reason you telephoned her from Brazzaville, as opposed to calling from the station? Questioning. The answer is implied in the text, though not obviously. Most readers would not have to pause to know why he went to Brazzaville (for security reasons), but some would, and I wanted the author to think about his intent.
One evening after sundown, while we were still in the Congo, Maureen returned from the riding club. Ive added this because the previous section takes place in the States, with Maureen receiving her medal, after youve left the Congo. This is just to help out the reader. Is it okay? Questioning. Whenever I add text, I draw attention to it primarily so that the writer can put it in his own voice as well as clarify text. This also addresses reading-like-a-writer issues of voice and clarification.

Table 3.1 (Cont.)
Text______________________ Editors Query_______________Reading Strategy
.. I thought for sure Frank Carlucci and Danemiller or his wife were in those plots. I asked the man standing near them to dig. Just as he got going, someone from the embassy arrived and told us that Danemiller and Carlucci had arrived at the airport. (I never did learn what those grave-like plots were for.) The chain of events in these few paragraphs is a little choppy. What happened to the rest of your party: Tim, Julie, your wife, etc? Was it just you and Mike who searched for them? Here, I was attempting to synthesize a chain of events in which two different search parties were traveling around the Congo countryside in a Keystone- coppish kind of way. I had to slow my reading tremendously in order to figure out what was going on.
Glenn was so impressed that he took Jerry to see Desmond Fitzgerald, the deputy director of operations who had visited Kinshasa a few weeks before the incident, had stayed with us, and knew Maureen quite well. Do you mean Leopoldville? Or is it Kinshasa at this point? When does the name change? And why? Schema. The city of Kinshasa was named Leopoldville prior to 1965 (text to world). I wasnt sure when the event, here, was happening and what the citys name was at that point.
While the report had seemed vague and raised more questions than it answered, I had started to carry a small pistol. You mentioned earlier in the book that you were carrying some sort of gun. I assumed that all CIA agents are always armed. Here, its almost hard to believe that after six years in the Congo you finally decided to carry a pistol. Inference. I use known knowledge of something mentioned earlier in the book to point out how Ive interpreted a passagehow Ive made it my own. It turned out that I was incorrect in assuming the writer had always been armed. He said he was never armed, until this point.
Source: Larry Devlin. Chief of Station, Congo. New Yor <: PublicAffairs, 2007, with
permission from the publisher.

As I read back over my queries to Devlin, I realized I asked this question a
lot: What do you mean by this? And I made this comment several times: Please
explain. These are notes that many teachers and students also make far too often,
and they are what I call empty edits. In these cases, the editor is not making good
use of any specific reading strategy, not even the questioning strategy. In these
cases, its important to keep in mind Rosenblatts Reader Response Theory, which
states that the meaning of a text is found in the transaction between the text and the
reader not between the text and the writer, and, therefore, its a mistake on the
editors part to ask the writer to provide the meaning. If a part of the text is
confusing, it is much better to comment this way: This is confusing because ...
and then point to specific components of the text that the editor thinks are
confusing. Or This part of the text needs more explanation because . . Then the
writer can more clearly see how the editor is comprehending the text, which is one
of the purposes of editingto provide a rehearsal audience for a text before sending
it to the often larger, intended audience. Please explain hints that there is a
disconnect between the reader and the text, but it doesnt offer any more clues to
the writer on how or where the comprehension process broke down.
In summary, the case for learning to read more like an editor rather than a
writer and a reader is strong, especially in composition classes where student editors
can play an important role in the evolution of other writers texts. Student editors
need to learn how to evoke the reading strategies that are already being taught in

reading workshops and writing workshops, and learn how to apply and/or combine
these strategies in the process of editing. Teachers can model editorial reading
strategies more thoughtfully in their responses to student writing, and they can turn
to professional editors and publishing houses for materials that can be used in the
classroom. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, teachers need to not only model
editorial reading strategies, but they need to also model thoughtful, respectful ways
to respond to writers.

What an editor is and does has changed throughout the years. In early
twentieth-century America, the most revered editor was Maxwell Perkins, who
worked at Charles Scribners Sons. Perkins was traditional in that he viewed editing
as a cultural missionthat writers of the day needed to enlist his help to prepare
manuscripts for publication, that publication couldnt be successful without him,
and that he was in the know about the marketplace and the writers audiences.
But Perkins also facilitated a shift in the editors role by decreeing, the
book belongs to the author (Aronson, in Gross, 14), rather than it belonging to the
publisher. Perkinss point of view was a direct contrast to Roland Barthess claim
the author is dead, that is, that the text is empty, awaiting the content brought by
the reader (Rosenblatt 4). But Perkinss stance is one that every editor must
consider embracing somewhat because, as I argued earlier, while the text is still
evolving, the writer is not dead. The text clearly must come from the writer, not the
editorit is not a collaborationand as the editor works with the writer and the
text, the editor must remember this relationship of inequality. Likewise, student
editors must keep in mind that the text belongs to the writer.

Perkins, whose first manuscript acquisition came from F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Perkins went on to also edit Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe), believed that
editing should involve whatever was necessary in order to uncover the essence, the
soul, the deep meaning, the certain something of the writers work. The epitome of
this devotion to the writer was seen in Perkinss work with Wolfes book Of Time
and the River that Wolfe submitted to Perkins in a four-hundred-thousand-word
tangle of unnumbered pages packed into three cartons (15) and basically said,
Here [Perkins], you figure it out. Perkins did, indeed, piece together Wolfes
book, but perhaps he went too far as an editor. Had Wolfe enlisted Perkins as a co-
creator? Because Perkins did figure it out, the role of the editor, mistakenly, became
that of writers collaborator or literary conscience (Howard, in Gross, 59). And,
also mistakenly, the editor came to be seen as the only person who could decipher a
texts meaning, rather than leaving that up to future readers.
It is only recently, perhaps in the past thirty to forty years, that the role of
editor has changed, much of which is due, in part, to Rosenblatts Reader Response
Theory. Here, she deconstructs the notion that the audience or the reading
public is a collective, cooperative, passive unit, one that can be spoon-fed a texts
meaning. She says, The individual reader has seldom been acknowledged as
carrying on his own special and peculiar activities (Rosenblatt 4). Though her
theory never addresses the role of the editor, per se, and focuses primarily on
readers of published texts, much of her discussion is useful in arguing that editors

are individual readers, as well, and they, too, carry on their own special and peculiar
activities. But what are these peculiar activities?
Publishers today cant afford to hire editors such as Perkins, who labor
(agonize?) for years, piecing together writers texts that the writer has abandoned.
Also, the sort of editor that Perkins was doesnt exist anymore or is called
something else, such as spouse or mom, meaning that the readers who help
piece together cartons of papers are often people the writer lives with. The reality is
that editors spend more and more of their time performing administrative and
marketing duties: writing promotional copy, writing back-cover copy (also known
as marketing blurbs), negotiating contracts, estimating plant production costs (with
profit and loss statements), and attending trade shows in order to track down the
next dynamic writers. Very little of their time is actually spent editing (i.e.,
reading). In fact, the responsibility for well-edited books has shifted mainly to
writers, who turn, usually, to their agents or their spouses help.
At a publishing house where I worked as a production editor, the
acquisitions editor once said, Lets build a little time into these schedules for me to
read some. The idea that a book may go to press without anybody in-house giving
it a good read was shocking. It occurred to me, too, that a novice writer might not
necessarily develop the book with the help from a spouse or agent. These
realizations helped me find holes in the system, after which I began asking the
freelance copy editors I hired to function as development editors as well. Now, as a

freelance editor, myself, I am often asked to pick up the editing where the writer,
agent, spouse, or acquisitions editor may have left off, which means that the in-
house editor probably hasnt spent much time reading the book at all. In fact, many
of the book projects I receive are only partially written, and chunks of
textprefaces, chapterscome to me without someone in-house reading them first.
It is only as a freelance editor that I might begin to perform the editing tasks that
Perkins once did, at least to some extentto read the book aesthetically and
painstakingly, to labor over it for the benefit of the writer, the text, and for future
readers. This is the kind of editing we should want to teach studentsnot so much
that they will be able to piece together crates of unorganized pages, but so that they
will learn to embrace the slowness and the thoroughness of the process. In the
following pages, I hope to impart some wisdom about how to read more confidently
as an editor, as well as discuss various reading models that lend themselves well to
reading editorially.
Becoming More Confident
Asking students to become editors, even for fifty minutes, is like asking
them to step into a job that either they may not want or they may feel completely
unqualified for. Some, maybe only a few, students will embrace the task, but most
will probably rebel, not show up at class on editing days, or simply feel that they

arent qualified to do the job well if at all. So, how do teachers attend to what can
be called the shrinking editor?
A more poignant question may be: How does an editor come to trust that the
way in which they are reading, and the awareness they have of the transaction that
is taking place, is accurate, or at least sufficient, in terms of understanding, making
suggestions to, and responding to a writers work? In other words, how can an
editor know and trust that they are, indeed, reading like an editor, and feel
comfortable with that? After all, editors arent just making changes to their own
writing; they are suggesting changes to somebody elses writing, something that
seems a little scarier, if not daunting, for beginning editors. In my own reading
instruction, I dont recall ever thinking I had special gifts that would qualify me to
help shape of somebody elses writing-I had a hard enough time shaping my own
writing. I always scored low on comprehension exams, and I felt, for a long time,
that I was probably the worlds slowest reader, which now, I realize, is a good
thing. I look back and understand that many of my reading disabilities stemmed
from not being regularly read to as a child. I was not exposed to language and
stories and other worlds through literature until I learned to enjoy that on my own
terms. I tried following in my sisters footsteps of vigorously approaching summer
reading lists from the local library, but I never succeeded. Moreover, I was not
taught that good reading might not involve speed or accurately interpreting the
writers meaning. I was not taught that good reading may involve being more

acutely aware of my own position in the world in relation to the text and,
consequently, paying attention as I read to what transpired between my position and
the information I gleaned. I was not taught that quality reading meant slowing down
and being cognizant of, well, everything. In fact, I did not become actively engaged
with reading until I took a Modem and Contemporary Literature class as an
undergraduate in college, and, there, I read avidly, hungrily, reflectively, because
everything was so good, and my professor brought everything he knew with him to
his lectures. He was an ideal model of a proficient reader: he showed us every
tangent he went off on while reading, everything each book made him think about. I
felt that I had finally woke up to reading because somebody had finally
demonstrated to me how to make connections, how to synthesize and summarize,
and how to ask questions. I became an editor mainly because, now, I love to read,
and I can see how reading enriches my life (with language, new information, deeper
thinking)not to mention that being paid to read enhances my bank account. But
these are not great reasons for becoming an editor, nor do these reasons help me
feel more confident about my reading abilities.
In How to Read and Why, Harold Bloom says, The pleasures of reading
indeed are selfish rather than social. You cannot directly improve anyone elses life
by reading better or more deeply. I remain skeptical of the traditional social hope
that care for others may be stimulated by the growth of individual imagination, and

I am wary of any arguments whatsoever that connect the pleasures of solitary
reading to the public good (22).
1 agree with Bloom, as long as I am reading for my own selfish pleasure.
However, editors must not read only for selfish pleasure, though that component is
certainly there. Perhaps better words than selfish would be private or intimate
because editors must learn to move from reading privately and deeply personally to
reading more socially, without losing their sense of self. They must seek to improve
the text for the benefit of future readers comprehension and enjoyment, and
understand that they not only have a dynamic relationship with the text but also
with the writer. Id like to think that my editorial actions do improve the lives of
other future readers, even if to prevent them from reading unclear or confusing
How, though, can an editor feel confident that she is, indeed, reading more
socially with these future readers in mind? And how do elementary-age kids, for
example, make the leap from feeling horribly unconfident as readersthanks to
current-day, high-stakes testing that illuminates more what they dont know than
what they do knowto becoming highly confident readers, and more, somewhat
confident editors? From the book Essays Into Literacy, Frank Smith wrote,
Children learn to read by reading (35). I say, as well, that editors learn to edit by
editing, and reading is the first part of that.

One option for an editor to feel more confident as an editor, a way that I
have tried and can attest to, is to charge a higher hourly rate. Not only does this give
employers the illusion that I must be the best editor in the area (I know Im not), but
I also begin to believe that Im a better editor, that Im a true professional. This is a
shallow and short-lived affirmation, though, because it really has nothing to do with
the quality of reading and responding that is taking place. If I, as an editor, can
point to a confusing part of a text and then explain to the writer why it is confusing,
by using reading comprehension strategies, then the quality of my editing has
increased, as opposed to pointing to a confusing part of the text but not explaining
why its confusing.
Rosenblatt presents the confidence problem this way:
My concern is simply with the social and intellectual atmosphere that
sets up good literature as almost by definition works accessible only
to the elitist critic or literary historian, and that leads the average
reader to assume that he simply is not capable of participating in them.
Our whole literary culture tends to produce this defeatist attitude.
Critics, professional and academic, have reinforced it. ... The capacity
to participate in verbally complex texts is not widely fostered in our
educational system, and desirable habits of reflection, interpretation,
and evaluation are not widespread. (143)
Herein lies the problem: Our students come to the composition classroom
with a predisposition of feeling that they will not make good editors and lacking the

motivation to even try. They may love to read, but they know its not enough to
love to read; an editor must love to read, ask questions, make inferences, read like a
writer, and offer improvements to texts that are not polished, that may not be
focused or organized, or that are written by writers who may think they are
perfectly polished and focused and organized. And because students have learned
that good literature is that which is touched only by smarter, older, or better
readersthe otherstudents choose not to come to class on days that are set
aside for peer response activities. They simply dont see themselves as having
editorial voices.
Rosenblatt suggests that educators should expand this small pool of editors,
students who may really want to edit, by working to strengthen the reading skills of
so-called ordinary student readers as well as lowering the bar to what is
considered literature worth editing. All texts are worth editing, but an emphasis
needs to be placed on coercion and reception rather than correction. The first step
for students is learning and believing that they bring to the text not only a specific
past life and literary history, not only a repertory of internalized codes, but also a
very active present, with all its preoccupations, anxieties, questions and aspirations
(144). Once the literary work is seen as part of the fabric of individual lives, the
gap [between professional and academic critics and student editors] may be at least
narrowed, without relinquishing recognition of standards of excellence (143). In
bringing up these student editors, the emphasis, Rosenblatt says, should be on the

transaction, on teaching them to pay attention to what transpires between
themselves and the texta deeply personal indulgence, as well as a prerequisite to
becoming an editor. An editor must have a personal relationship with the text before
a social one of editing and interpreting can be established.
Bloom also supports this notion: You need not fear that the freedom of
your development as a reader is selfish, because if you become an authentic reader,
then the response to your labors will confirm you as an illumination to others (24).
In other words, dont worry about reading either privately or socially; only read
well and deeply and without judgment and that intimate relationship with the text
will, in turn, benefit others. This is the moment we begin to trust ourselves as true
editors, to trust that we are reading proficiently rather than sufficiently, that we are
differentiating between what the writer might be saying and what we may be
bringing to the text as readers. The moment comes when we begin reading
privately, for ourselves. This is work that everybody can accomplish; it is not
intended only for the highly trained elite.
Reading Process Models
The job of reading intimately and privately is huge in and of itself. Many
people spend their whole lives learning how to read transactionally, even if they are
unaware they are doing so. And taking that one step furtherto read editorially, for

other peoplerequires even more, if different work. In this section, I will look at
various models of reading that lend themselves to learning how to read editorially,
that is, learning how to sort out what the writer might be saying and what we may
be bringing to the text as readers, as well as taking reading into the social realm.
Rosenblatt explains the reading process as being parallel to the writing
process, yet in reversethat is, while writers morph writer-based texts into
audience-based texts (what she calls authorial reading), readers interpret texts
more subjectively after, first, interpreting them objectively:
I have been especially interested in differentiating two kinds of
authorial reading during the writing transaction: the first,
expression-oriented, involves reading to test what has been written so
far against an evolving inner purpose, and the second, reception-
oriented, involves reading the text through the eyes of potential
readers. When communication is the aim, the first must provide a
criterion for the second. This parallels the readers experience in
reverse, on the one hand testing an evocation for its inner coherence
and relevance to the text, as distinct from, on the other hand, seeking
both intrinsic and extrinsic means to relate this evocation to the
authors intention (186).
What Rosenblatt may possibly be saying is that there are early moments during the
act of reading in which a reader needs to settle in, that is, a time when the reader is
engaged in reading transactionally but just taking time to adjust to the language and

the ideas of the text. This familiarization period then evolves into a more personal
interaction between reader and text. The reader reads without regard for others,
without concern for the experience other readers of the same text are having.
Students, too, can learn to read in a more developmental way, such as this, by first
settling in with the texts language and ideas, followed by actively bringing to the
text everything they can in order to make connections, ask questions, and ultimately
comprehend the text in their own unique way.
But the editorial process does not stop with the readers personalization of
the text, as it seems to with Rosenblatts second, more personal reading. What I
mean is that a readers transactional response, which can be analyzed in terms of a
dialectic relationship between text, reader, and the interaction (Iser x) between the
two, and the awareness of what the reader is bringing with him to the interpretation
of the text, needs to move from response theory into the realm of whats called
reception theorywhat Rosenblatt describes as reading the text through the eyes
of potential readers. While one task of response theory is to facilitate
intersubjective discussion of individual interpretations, reception theory seeks to
add an awareness of a greater cultural force, a wider audience. Iser says, A theory
of reception . always deals with the existing readers, whose reactions testify to
certain historically conditioned experiences of literature. A theory of response has
its roots in the text; a theory of reception arises from a history of readers
judgments (x). In other words, an editor reads editorially once she moves beyond

experiencing the text transactionally and begins to take into consideration the rest of
society. That is, she begins reading more culturally, more globally, more
publiclyin essence, becoming Blooms antithetical reader. She reads with a larger
audience than herself in mind.
Although many theorists of the writing process dont equate editing to
reception theory, the notion of becoming aware of a wider audience is reflected in
the editorial theories of Donald Murray, Ayn Rand, and John Bryant. Murray says
that three different kinds of readings need to take place during the editing, or
clarifying, phase: the first for meaning, the second for form, and the third for
language (Murray 210). Likewise, Rand also claims that three editorial readings
must happen: (1) structure, (2) clarity, and (3) stylein that order (Rand 90).
Finally, Bryant categorizes three readings this way: (1) authorial, or getting it; (2)
editorial, or doing it better; and (3) cultural, or making it like us (Bryant 98).
Its the making it like us part that epitomizes social reading, for Murrays
language and Rands style are nothing but social constructs. A writer may be
cognizant of a particular audience, but an editor can help the writer craft the text to
fully engage that audience. What this means is that the parts of a composition class
that are called peer response and editing are really parts of a continuum that move
from private reading to more social reading. The correction part, which we usually
refer to as editing, is not so much correction as it is conformitymanipulating

grammar and punctuation, and language in general, toward an already agreed-upon
Bryant warns, though, that there is a tendency in the doing it better phase
(his middle, editorial-reading phase) for editors to feel too comfortable, if not
complacent, about mistakenly thinking of themselves as the voice of a culture.
Here, he says, a transcendent editorial collective seeks to do the text better by
representing the invisible hand of culture (107). This brings to mind the
phenomenon of the Wikipedia, the publicly written online encyclopedia, in which
the idea is to engage many editorspossibly hundreds of thousandsto create
newer versions ad infinitum of an encyclopedic entry, the result of which ideally
represents the collective knowledge and truth of a culture.
This is definitely a trendthe editor thinking he speaks for a culturethat
online editing (thanks to open source softwareopen editing) has hugely
contributed to. It could also be considered editing run amok. Or is it? Everyone can,
indeed, become an editor and read editoriallythis doesnt have to be a bad thing,
and it helps bring editing down to a level of everyday practice, rather than
something reserved for only the literarily privileged. Perhaps this sort of editorial
clout can be beneficial when it comes to instilling confidence in a student
reader/editor. But perhaps Bryant is right, that the responsibility of speaking for an
entire culture can also be too great a burden for some students, and too much

editorial energy can be put into speaking for a culture, rather than just trying to
make a text better.
To avoid the idea of editors speaking for an entire culture in the classroom,
its important for teachers and student writers to consider each editors suggestions
individually. That is, treat each editor as one person who has had one, unique or
peculiar (to use Rosenblatts term) transaction with a text. Editors in the classroom
dont necessarily sit in groups and work together to create a set of suggestions that
they all agree upon. Teachers, too, can perhaps make a blanket statement at the
beginning of a semester that edits are individual ideas that are not meant as dictums
as to what is right or wrong, or what is socially acceptable or not; edits are singular
ideas that come from individuals who have experienced the text in a particular way,
and who have thoughtfully considered if their unique reading will hold up with a
larger audience.
The point of all this, of course, is to say that once a reader can embrace
Rosenblatts continuum of, first, settling into the text and then reading for more
personal and private purposes, to have a transactional experience with the text, then
the reader can turn outward again, to read for the benefit of future readers. Only
then does a reader begin to read like an editor.

How, then, do teachers actually teach students to read like editors? When I
began writing this paper, I intended to convince the reader that editing begins as
soon as a second party other than the writer reads a text. Of course, it really begins
when the writer rereads his own text, but I did not wish to focus on that part of the
editorial process. Mostly, I wanted to focus on the peer response part of
composition classes in order to point out that reading comprehension skills will
benefit the writing process, namely because they benefit the editorial process. The
better editors students become, the more thorough the revision process. Currently,
we teach students that editing is correction, which I have shown is really not
correction but conformity. Style is subjective, and publishing houses and academia
set their own guidelines for editorial conformity. We teach that editing is the final
part of the process to make a text seem more like us. And we teach that the
revision process is not really editing at all, but more a back-and-forth between
writer and textwhat Bryant calls the getting it phase.
Clearly, a new model for teaching the editorial process is necessary, that is,
if we teachers are in agreement that the writing process involves not just writing

and rewriting but lots and lots of reading and rereading, repeatedly. How do we
teach this process that involves reading, first, to settle in to the texts language and
ideas, which is then followed by moving toward a more transactional,
metacognitive interaction with the textreading like a reader and like a
writerand then, finally, reading more and more socially and editorially, gradually
becoming aware of future audiences?
The Response Sandwich
To answer these questions and devise a model for teaching editing, I am
reminded of Iser, who pointed out that reading is the essential precondition of
literary interpretation. And I will add that reading is also the essential postcondition
of literary interpretation. Reading is the first as well as the final part of a very basic
three-part editorial process, which I call the Response Sandwich: reading,
responding, and then reading again. There most likely will be additional responding
and reading and responding and reading, but the simple model is response
sandwiched between at least two slices of reading. The editor will read a text and
suggest changes or ask questions or offer comments about how she comprehended
the text, and the writer may agree to make some, none, or all of those changes. But
an editor needs to read the text again, finally, after changes are made, not so much
to enforce that the agreed-upon changes were made, but to check for smoothness,

clarity, any problems that may have been overlooked in previous readings or that
may have been introduced with the new text.
The Response Sandwich is the new model I am proposing for teaching
editing in the classroom. Basically, a student is taught to read the text through once,
in a way that facilitates reading transactionally, experiencing the text fully and
intimately, yet also in a way in which broad, general queries can be posed to the
writer, which I will explain shortly. Next, the student is taught to transform those
queries into specific responses to the writer. And, finally, the student is taught to
read the text a final time, making sure the writer addressed all of their responses, in
some way. Lets look, now, at the Response Sandwich in more detail.
The First ReadingThe Fallible Writer
In a typical composition class or writers workshop, on peer response day
a writer distributes copies of their text to members of a small group and sometimes
to the whole class. Next, the writer reads their text aloud while students follow
along, making notes as they go. Finally, after the writer has finished reading,
students offer responses to the text while the writer tries to remain silent. One
problem with this existing model is that peer responders rarely have the opportunity
to develop a transactional relationship with the text. In order to fully experience
texts, readers need to be able to pause during reading to monitor the reading

experience, check in with their comprehension processes, and ask questions.
Ideally, the peer response process would allow peer responders the liberty to pause
several times, if necessary, during the reading of the text.
In 1996, Beck et al. performed a yearlong study specifically addressing how
students can more effectively comprehend texts the first time they encounter them.
While addressing the reading rather than the editorial process, their study, called
Questioning the Author (QtA), sheds light on how students can read more
transactionally during an initial reading of a text by teaching them to address
questions to or about the writer, rather than to or about the text. This, of course, is
not how Rosenblatt would have students approach texts. However, its an
interesting method because it teaches students that texts are the products of fallible
human beings, as though writers are still highly involved, sensitive, and vulnerable
(Beck et al. 1996, 385). The goal of Becks study was to point out that if
discussion takes place in the course of reading the text for the first time, instead of
asking questions after the whole text has been read, then there will be an ongoing
process of constructing meaning that takes place .. during reading (386). This is
important for the editorial process because editors are often limited with their time
in the course of a semester and may not have time to reread the text more than three
or four times; comprehension needs to happen as the text is being read the first
timeor, at least, comprehension needs to begin with the first reading and continue
with subsequent readings.

In addition to the QtA study, Beck et al. had previously performed a study
on how texts intended for young readers could be revised so that these readers could
understand the texts contents better the first time they were read (Beck, McKeown,
& Gromoll, 1989; Beck, McKeown, Sinatra, & Loxterman, 1991; Britton, Van
Dusen, Gulgoz, & Glynn, 1989). This sort of workrevisingled the researchers
to believe that students also needed to learn to read a text the first time through with
a revisers eye:
Beck et al.s work in revising texts for young readers made them
aware that the process of revising a text requires active engagement
with its contents and grappling with ideas in order to understand what
the author was trying to say. This insight made us consider that we
might encourage students to grapple with text ideas by helping them to
acquire a revisers eye. Key to a revisers eye is the difference
between trying to understand and trying to make something
understandable. (Beck et al. 1996, 386)
Here, Beck pinpoints the kernel of editing: trying to make something
understandable. The difference between her research and my proposed Response
Sandwich is that in hers the author is not present and may not even be alive. In
mine, the writer is most likely sitting in the same room as the reader, which adds
more poignancy to the delicateness of questioning this fallible human being. Beck
writes: The intent of interrogating the ideas in a text through dialogue with the

author is to depose the authority of the text by actualizing the presence of an
author as a fallible human being (387). In other words, in order to understand a
text, the reader has to make it understandable (1) by knowing that the writer is
capable of making mistakes and (2) by formally and systemically questioning the
writer. In this way, texts are made accessible to students, and the idea that good
literature is reserved for the elite is done away with. The moment when the shift
happens from reading personally to reading more socially, more editorially, is when
the reader moves from understanding the text to trying to make the text more
According to Beck, the best way to make a text more understandable is to
query the author, to challenge the authority of the text, to know that the text is
imperfect and that the author is imperfect, and to ask questions with these things in
mind. By asking questions as the text is first encountered, Beck claims, students
may be more likely and more willing to really figure out whats going on with a
text. The notion was, Beck writes, that in changing the way students (and
teachers) address a text, that is, by challenging the authority of the textbook, blame
for comprehension difficulties could be shifted from students inadequacies to
authors fallibilities (387).
The publishing industry has traditionally called this questioning process
Querying the Author (QA), and Beck points out that the questions shes
proposing, here, are actually more like queries. Queries, she says, are designed to

explore ideas, in contrast to using questions that check on students recall of text
information (394). Indeed, editors should be querying the writers ideas, not
feeding back to the writer textual information. The following are some queries Beck
proposes addressing authors of expository texts during the initial reading of a text:
What is the author trying to say?
What is the authors message?
Thats what the author says, but what does he (she) mean?
How does that fit in with what the author already told us?
Does that make sense? (This is asked when there seems to be
difficulties with the way the author has presented information
or ideas)
Did the author explain that clearly? Why or why not? Whats
missing? What do we need to figure out or find out to make it
These are similar questions to the ones I highlighted on Table 3.1 that
evoked reading comprehension skills. However, the value of Becks questions is
that they help students self-monitor their comprehension of texts as they read. After
all, Beck says, comprehension doesnt falter after reading but during reading
(Beck and McKeown, 36, italics mine). To avoid confusion between Becks

questions, here, and the questions I asked in Table 3.1,1 will call Becks questions
queries because, as she says, queries explore ideas, yet at a broader level than the
specific questions I asked. Once a student determines if an author explained
something clearly or not, then reading comprehension strategies can be activated,
such as making an inference, asking more questions, or using schema (text to text,
text to self, and text to world connections) in order to further comprehend a text.
Reading comprehension strategies are used to help students enhance their abilities
to construct meaning; Questioning the Author shifts the focus from dealing with
the strategies to grappling directly with the ideas in the text (Beck and McKeown,
125). In other words, with QtA students work with ideas instead of wrestling with
the strategies that will help them understand the ideas. QtA is a more direct
approach for getting into the text as quickly as possible.
To begin teaching the querying process, a teacher lets students know that
whats in a text is simply someones ideas written down (Beck and McKeown 31;
Harvey and Goodvis). Because the writer will also be in the classroom, its
important not to dwell on how the writer may not have written things in the clearest
way, but to just suggest that as humans we are imperfect and even the greatest
writers write imperfect texts. Then, teachers begin modeling queries by reading
through a sample text, aloud (most texts are read orally in QtA discussions,
especially when a text is first introduced), and pausing mid-sentence to ask,
Whats going on here? or What does this word mean? And what does it have to

do with what I just read? This teaches students to habitually monitor their
understanding of a text while they read, and it teaches them to identify the parts of a
text that may seem confusing and that should be addressed during the response part
of the Response Sandwich. Ultimately, these queries will help students fully realize
a text and begin to develop an awareness of a future, larger audience. Also, the
implementation of queries helps unify the publishing industry with whats being
taught about the editorial process in schools: response to writers (the second part of
the Response Sandwich) must begin with queries from the first reading of the
textthe broad, general probes, like whats the author trying to say? That is,
before an editor can approach a writer and offer a response to what she just read, the
editor has to fully experience and develop their own understanding of the text.
Queries make this happen.
The ResponseGaining the Writers Trust
I once worked with an author who rejected all of my suggested changes to
his four-hundred-page manuscript (which followed a project in which a different
author accepted all of my changes), and though I tried defending my suggestions by
noting the page numbers for The Chicago Manual of Style's rules, the real problem
was that I had not developed a rapport with the author from the beginning.
Somehowand I have not yet figured out the perfect formula for thisthe writer

needs to buy in to the idea that the editor has a common goal of making the text
better, that together the writer and editor will produce a first-rate manuscript. It is
not enough for an editor to be a transactional reader, thorough, and accurate; being
a friend and a well-wisher are just as important.
The response process concerns working with a human being who is
revealing an important part of himself or herself to the public (Myers Stainton 26).
Great sacrifices may have been made by the writer to turn out a particular piece of
prose that might be, in the editors eyes, mediocre at best. The most useful approach
for an editor is to be kind, to point out the good in the text. Traditionally, editors
initially respond to writers by composing a letter that begins with generalities, such
as This was a particularly interesting manuscript for me to read because . . or I
especially enjoyed the part about. .. However the letter begins, it needs to
include persuasion on the editors part that convinces the writer its okay, even
necessary, to buy in to the edits, to gain the editors trust, for not much will happen
editorially if the writer does not grant some sort of clout to the editor. The best way
for this to happen is for the editor to begin by offering praise, even empathy (I
know you must have gone through a lot to write this). Finally, the letter must end
with well wishes for the success of the manuscript (Im hoping this wins the
schools annual Halloween essay contest).
But while the letter is a general introduction to the editor, it is not the place
where specific issues from the text are dealt with. The broad queries, which I spoke

of in the previous section, will be addressed on the pages of the text itself.
However, the queries will be transformed into the specific reading comprehension
strategies of reading like a writer and reading like a reader, before being presented
to the writer. For example, the query Thats what the author says, but what do they
really mean? will be focused more into something like this: Im not sure what you
mean by largest. The Nile is longer than the Amazon. Do you mean largest in the
sense of having the most water flow? (See Table 3.1)
The reading comprehension strategies will help the editor pinpoint and
communicate to the writer, the specific problems theyve encountered in the text.
An example Beck uses is having a hypothetical student respond to a text this way:
Gee, I dont understand. First the author tells us they have enough food, clothing,
housing. And then he says they dont have the money to get this food, clothing, and
housing. Whats going on here? (Beck et al. 400). The query is: Whats going on
here? Instead of leaving it at that and asking the writer to explain this, the editor
needs to do a little more detective work and try to figure out, exactly, whats going
on here. Is there information missing? Can the writer make better connections in the
text for the reader to follow? If the editor can explain the source of her confusion by
using the tools of reading like a reader and reading like a writer (charting the plot,
making predictions and inferences, summarizing, etc.), then the writer will benefit
from the editors query, Whats going on here? Peter Elbow, in Writing Without
Teachers, says it this is giving writers a movie of your mindthat is, telling

writers I thought this because of this (Elbow). However, if the editor cannot
explain her source of confusion, then, Beck says, the reading was unsuccessful, and
lack of comprehension on the editors part cannot be blamed on the writer.
Therefore, the reader, and an editor especially, must return to the text until the
source of confusion can be located, and then they must let the writer know, gently,
gracefully, convincingly.
The Final ReadingAgreement
The final reading of The Response Sandwich is not only a matter of looking
over the incorporated changes and making sure that they make sense, but it is also a
brand new reading of a brand new text. Because the writer has worked on editorial
comments that came up during the Questioning the Author phase, the original text
has morphed into something new and different. Consequently, the editor needs to
read the text again much like she did the first time around: asking questions that
help monitor reading comprehension and constructing queries for the writer to
address during the next round of revision. Questioning the Authorposing the big
queries and challenging the authority of the textis never-ending, as
comprehension and construction of meaning is an ongoing process, especially as
chunks of texts are introduced or rewritten. But as editors learn to read with a
revisers eyeactively seeking ways to make text more understandableand as

they develop relationships with writers, Questioning the Author becomes smoother
and certainly more pleasant.
Editors need to approach subsequent readings with the idea that what they
are reading is a new textits not the same text with changes. In fact, each new
version of a text is the writers subsequent attempt at getting it, and each reading
is an editors subsequent attempt at making it better.
The goal with the Response Sandwich is to whittle down the number of
questions and queries an editor directs toward the writer with each new version of
the text and for both, writer and editor, to reach an agreement that all queries were
adequately addressed in the course of helping the writer get it. As such, the final
reading may happen early in the semester, or it may not happen at all because the
semester may end before both parties feel satisfied with the writers efforts to get it.
There is no timeline to the editorial process. It doesnt necessarily fit neatly
into a college semester, nor does it fit that well into my rush schedules dictated
from book publishers. The tasks we are asked to perform as editors, whether they
are making sense of a difficult text or cutting five hundred pages from a book
manuscript, may span weeks, perhaps years. But as long as there are chunks of
timefifteen or six weeks, a semester or a rushwriters and editors can

approach editing the way that we have learned to approach writing: as a process.
Once we know the steps of the process well, we can pace ourselves through it and,
hopefully, help create texts that are clear and understandable
Clearly, there are many questions that research about the editorial process
needs to address. How can reading comprehension strategies be integrated
successfully into composition classes? Can The Response Sandwich be taught in
these classes throughout the semester, and not segmented to a few peer response
days? And how? Should students work in pairs or small groups and stick with each
other throughout the semester in order to develop the quality relationships necessary
for writer buy-in? Or should they switch partners or groups? How successful can
Questioning the Author be when the writer is present in the classroom? How can
reading comprehension skills be taught in writing classes without sacrificing the
teaching of writing? And finally, if, as Rosenblatt suggests, the two processes are in
opposition (one moving from private to public, and the other moving from public to
private to public again), how can our teaching more clearly reflect the necessity to
teach them both simultaneously?
What is clear is that more attention needs to be given to teaching the editorial
process, and a new model for teaching this process may be useful. Thoughtful and
consistent editing is important to providing good direction to writers. Focusing more
of our teaching skills and resources on the editorial process is important because
writers need to have an opportunity to test their writing on an audience, and a

smaller audience (i.e., an editor) can be ideal. This new model needs to include
teaching metacognitive skills that help students think about what they are thinking
about during reading. The model also needs to include teaching reading
comprehension skills, as well as helping students form the big questions (Why did the
writer write this?), and combining the two techniques in order to effectively
communicate with the writer. Finally, this model needs to address issues that are
unique to editors, such as learning to feel more confident about the quality of their
reading and understanding that the way editors read is somewhat different that the
way writers and other readers read, both in the skills they use as well as with their
changing relationship with the text (i.e., private into social). We can only hope that,
by beginning to read like editors, writing students will begin to achieve the creative
and communicative power that written language offers (Smith 84).

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