‘Parsing’ (v.) The act of analysing a sentence into its constituent parts.
‘Judgement’ (n.) An opinion held or conclusion reached.
I came very close to dumping the title of this blog series, but I’ve come back around to it. Forgive me getting a little meta, but I’m going to use my internal debate on the subject to help illustrate the concept and the value of Purpose for your own writing.
I came up with three reasons to bin my title, straight off the bat:
1. Parsing Judgement is a terrible pun—any ‘joke’ that needs explaining is an insta-fail.
2. Casual readers may think I can’t even spell the word ‘passing’—not a great look for any editor.
3. Even if they do get it, the term ‘passing judgment’ holds negative connotations—who does this guy think he is?
Writers can intuit, but we can never know what a reader will think about any given character, theme, or situation. And it’s futile to try. We have to focus on our own Purpose – what we want them to think and feel – and then just do our best to carry them along with us. (Any editor worth their salt will be looking for such threads and helping you to bring them to the fore.)
Skipping back to my internal debate for a moment, let’s think about some reasons why Parsing Judgement might still work as a title.
1. It’s short, accurate, memorable, and multi-layered—all of which are good for marketing.
2. The use of less-familiar words tends to promote further inquiry—I actively want to engage writers and help them to develop.
3. The title encapsulates the purpose of this resource—parsing the subtleties of writing and giving my professional judgement.
Okay. So, what of it?
We have all been in a position where an editor has highlighted a sentence or a paragraph – perhaps even a character or plot-thread – and called its value into question in some shape or form. They may deem it to be distracting, counter-productive, or perhaps it simply fails to contribute anything of significance to the piece. This kind of feedback can feel pretty challenging and (if handled poorly) can lead to antagonism between two people who should be united in their efforts.
It’s very important you understand this one point: you are not being marked.
Words are a tool. The more Purposeful you are – the more precisely you wield them – the better you will be at writing. It’s a dirty little secret but there are very few actual rules in literature. Most of what you’ll hear are guidelines and conventions. They have grown and developed over the years, and they will continue to do so as time goes on.
Writers are not simply transcribers, they are creators, so break as many rules as you like. Just make sure you do so in the service of your project and your Purpose.
Like I say, I came back around to my title. I thought about the problem, I weighed up the pros and cons, and I made an informed decision. ‘Parsing Judgement’ isn’t perfect, but I really like it. More importantly, it does what I need it to do.
Now. Let’s talk about you. Are you looking to sharpen your style? Have you got niggling questions about grammar? If you’ve sought guidance elsewhere, did you find the answers confusing or contradictory? Perhaps I can help.
I don’t claim to know everything, but research is part of my professional development as an editor.
For me, the process is as important as the result, so I’m happy to put in the leg-work. If you have any relevant questions to pose, any nomenclature you’d like explaining, any hypotheticals you’d like me to explore, then please feel free to reach out in the Comments section below.
If you’re shy about doing such things in public, why not send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Parsing Judgement’ as the subject heading.
I’ll share and answer the best ones in future blog posts (keeping you anonymous).
That’s about it for now.
What’s the value of an Editor? And what should you look for when you’re seeking one out? Check out The Heart Of It All.
If you think you need an editor, but are worried about the expense, why not take a peek at my Affordable Payment Plan?