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Distilling Words to Their Essence: Editing Poetry for Impact

Written by Emily Salja; copy edited by Meagan Kus

When we think about editing poetry, we first have to think about what poetry is. This is something that poets and critics have debated for decades—what is poetry?

All writing, to an extent, comes from the heart—creative writing in particular—and poetry is one of those strange, elusive creatures that is stitched together mostly by heartstrings. Poetry is the least efficient way of conveying a message. It is the language of trauma and inarticulable feelings. In poetry, we write around things instead of at them. How do we edit something so personal?

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A black bottle with the illustrated label "Bat Wing Potion" sits to the right of a candle and a fake skull that are both on top of a book called "The Works of Poe."
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Gleaming Things

Written by David Antrobus; copy edited by Lydia du Bois

When I was kindly asked to write a blog post about editing horror, I was happy to accept an invitation to discuss two of my favourite things: editing and horror fiction. But then, I stepped back and thought some more, and a question occurred to me: How is editing horror any different from editing fiction in general? At first blush, the answer to that is a simple one: it isn’t.

Except—and don’t you love the exceptions?—when the editor is involved early in the editing process. Both developmental editing and manuscript evaluations offer the greatest opportunity to help authors shape their manuscripts. Many of my clients across all genres are independent self-publishers and therefore don’t generally have the budget to saunter their leisurely way through the various levels of editing, but those who do ask for those early stages will likely benefit the most.

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April 17, 2019: Editing in Another World

What: Editors BC monthly meeting
When: Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 7:00–9:00 pm
Where: Alma VanDusen Room, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver | map
Cost: Free for Editors BC members, non-members, and students.

Our next meeting will feature a special presentation by fellow Editors BC executive member Ellen Michelle, a soon-to-be graduate of the Master of Publishing Program at SFU. Ellen is specialized in editing and publishing speculative fiction genres, and aims to promote and support Canadian authors in everything she does. Ellen launched her own publishing company, Constellate Publishing, in 2018. 

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April 27, 2019: Editing Cake and Proofreading Compote: A Recipe for Successful Cookbook Editing

What: Editors BC professional development seminar
When: Saturday, April 27, 2019, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Where: Room 381, 3rd floor, BCIT Downtown Campus, 555 Seymour Street, Vancouver | map
Cost: $165 for Editors Canada members ($135 early bird), $230 for non-members ($200 early bird), and $100 for student affiliates. Advance registration required. Registration closes April 23; early-bird rates are in effect through April 9.

Serves: A room full of editors

Time: 6 hours

Cookbook editing can be a satisfying niche with a feast of opportunities. Calling for equal amounts of editing skill and culinary knowledge, the recipe for successful cookbook editing can be mastered by those willing to put in a little time in the editing kitchen. 

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Meet the Instructor: Frances Peck

Written by Carl Rosenberg; copy edited by Kristin Lathrop

This image displays a head shot of Frances Peck smiling.

On Saturday, February 23, Editors BC presents Frances Peck’s seminar, “Getting the Message Across: Clear Writing Tips.” So if you want to improve your ability to quickly convey a clear message to your audience, you’re in luck.


The ability to be concise when dealing with reports, briefings, emails, or any other documents is crucial for an audience to get your message. But too often that message gets buried by weak organization, unnecessary detail, abstract language, and other barriers to readability.

Whether you’re a writer or an editor, this seminar will show you how to create documents that meet readers’ needs and get the message across. Topics include writing faster and better (a four-step process); understanding what your readers want (and don’t want); highlighting your key messages; making ideas flow; and eliminating wordiness, abstractions, and jargon. (See the registration page for more details.)

Frances Peck, a partner with West Coast Editorial Associates, is a writer and Certified Professional Editor (Hon.) who specializes in editing and rewriting for clarity. She has taught for the University of Ottawa, Douglas College, SFU, UBC, Editors Canada, and many public and private sector organizations. Frances wrote Peck’s English Pointers, a free collection of articles and quizzes available on the Language Portal of Canada, and is a co-author of the HyperGrammar website.

Carl Rosenberg, a volunteer on Editors BC’s communications and social media committee, spoke to Frances about her work on writing.

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February 20, 2019: Discovering New Inspirations!

What: Editors BC monthly meeting
*When: Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 7:00–9:00 pm
Where: Alma VanDusen Room, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver | map
Cost: Free for Editors BC members, non-members, and students.

*Please note that there will be a 20-minute tour starting promptly at 7:15–7:35 pm.

Join us at our February meeting to learn more about the free technology, spaces, and events the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) has to offer you as an editor, writer, and/or content creator.

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January 16, 2019: How to Turn Secret Talents into Editing Super Powers!

What: Editors BC monthly meeting
When: Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 7:00–9:00 pm
Where: Alma VanDusen Room, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver | map
Cost: Free for Editors BC members, non-members, and students.

Join us at our next meeting to learn how education, past careers, personal hobbies and passions—basically, transferable skills acquired through experience unrelated to editing—have expanded the expertise of your editorial colleagues and contributed to making them better, more knowledgeable editors.

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