Birkhead Editorial

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Andrew Birkhead
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Lentil Soup

Posted on October 11, 2009 in: Editing by Andrew Birkhead

If you know me, you know of my profound love of creating soups. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why I love soup making until I read a horoscope written by Rob Brezney. He suggests that soups are magical because “their value and beauty as a totality are more than the sum of their parts.” It dawned on me today that soup-making and editing are very similar in that regard. My job as an editor and soup-maker are to create something that’s better than the sum of it’s parts.

Making a great soup and editing a great story work the same for me. With a soup I start with the recipe. Then I change things around until they make sense. For example, last night’s lentil soup recipe looked good until I saw that it called for 8 cups of water. Water seemed boring so I substituted homemade chicken stock. Storytelling works the same way for me. I take the client’s ideas and make them better by ruthlessly discarding what isn’t working and adding elements that work better. Like a good soup, the result is a creation that’s greater than the sum of it’s parts.

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