Welcome to iota–a group for word nerds, book lovers, and text mavens who help us get our writing work done. A note or two to facilitate the process….
We often write on a short deadline, and some of our writing–mine especially–has to fit particular audiences and moments. As a result, the level of polish and style will vary widely.
The most common help I ask for is to revise and edit Sunday sermons and occasional homilies (weddings, funerals). To say this writing lacks polish is an understatement. But more importantly, this writing aims at a level of orality that will be unfamiliar to many. Sentences tend to be longer, with little subordination. Coordinating conjunctions are frequently used, and structural repetition often aids communication of meaning. In this kind of writing, I am looking for help with grammatical editing–parallelism, punctuation, typos–and with sentence level revision.
I will return to this page to add more notes on how best to help with writing for other contexts–Newsletter, website, and so on.
We will use two tools.
- email@example.com: This is a group e-mail distribution list. I will send a request for help to this e-mail address, and the e-mail will then be distributed to all those subscribed to the list. If you will kindly respond to the group e-mail address to let us know that you can help, you can then proceed to offer your advice; other’s will know that they don’t need to offer help because you are already working on a document.
- Google Docs: You are asked to use the Google Docs commenting functions. These function allow you to comment, suggest, and revise a document. You will see an icon at the top right, which lets you choose one of three “modes”: editing, suggesting, or viewing. When you move your cursor to the right margin, a comment icon emerges. You can comment or suggest by clicking on this comment icon. If you choose the suggest mode, then you can simply type in the document and I can then choose to accept or reject your suggested changes. It is pretty slick, I think; if you need help, please give us a call in the office.
There are three perspectives I ask you to adopt when you offer us your help:
- Sniff: We often write first draft and need a quick read. We are not asking for revision, editing, or proofreading advice because we known the draft will change considerably. We are only asking for a “sniff.” If the draft stinks, we may start over. If the draft seems workable, we will keep working on it.
- After-the-Fact: To publish sermon and homily manuscripts is tricky business; the drafts we take into the pulpit are often quite rough, and the written word is only part of what transpires between the preacher and the congregation. We do not plan to revise these manuscripts; we are looking only for sentence-level editing and proofreading.
3. Drafting: Newsletter articles, letters to the congregation, formal reports tend to go through multiple drafts, even when they are written on short deadlines. We will let you know where we are in the drafting process and describe what kind of help we hope you will offer.
I hope this is enough to get us started. I would like to make written sermons and homilies available but I can’t manage without your help. We know people will visit our website before they visit our building, so we want to make the best of every opportunity.