The BCG Education Fund sponsored a full-day pre-conference workshop at the NGS conference today. There were two parts, Dr. Thomas W. Jones on “Editing Your Own and Others’ Genealogical Writing” and Melinde Lutz Byrne on “Editor’s Ink: Writing for Genealogical Journals.”
For the pre-lunch session, I attended Dr. Jones’ lecture. “Polishing is the greatest part of writing” according to Dr. Jones, it is also the hardest part. When you begin writing you can start with anything: key terms, a description of what you want to say or full sentences. If you cannot come up with anything to write, you probably should not be writing. It is where you go from here, all the polishing, that is the difficult part.
I was amazed that as an NGS Quarterly editor, Dr. Jones routinely cuts 25-50% of the words sent to him. The main rules for publication, after having interesting and well-done research, is to be concise, choose simple words and have a logical sequence.
After lunch, I attended Melinde Lutz Byrnes’ lecture, where she told us that “writing is thought.” I learned that most journals have guidelines online that can help you decide if your publication should be submitted.
Prior to the conference Ms. Byrnes sent us a pdf of a rough draft journal article. At nearly 30 pages long, this article was eventually cut down to 7 pages. Our directions were to read the footnotes first, then the article, then turn each of the 90 paragraphs into 1 sentence and write 1 sentence that gives the overall theme of the article.
This will be the way I read every article in the future. The footnotes give so much more information on the author and what you are about to read than I ever imagined. This is apparently a tip from a well-known, long-term (and un-named) editor. When an article is dense or confusing, turning each paragraph into a concise sentence makes it easier to understand.
These workshops made me more interested expanding my writing. I am looking forward to combing my research for interesting and unique case studies that can be submitted to genealogical journals.