Editing: Turning your Transcript into Profile
You've now got a typed transcript of your conversation. You want to turn it into a finished profile. This editing process is a craft. That means that there are rarely hard-and-fast rules to be followed about how much to edit, how to punctuate, and so on. But we can offer some advance and a few guidelines.
Editing requires you to make many choices. In making these choices, you will probably have to balance at least four objectives: (1) creating a readable story that engages readers' interest and is easy to follow (2) presenting a text that preserves the style, rhythm and "sound" of the speaker while honoring your interviewee's words and meaning, (3) producing a written text that the speaker will be comfortable with, and (4) crafting a story that satisfies your own preferences as an editor/ collaborator.
Follow the links below for guidelines and examples in response to the questions that students frequently ask.
Most editors find that they edit in several stages (working through a manuscript multiple times) as they craft a satisfactory profile. Here's one way to approach the various editing tasks:
- Deal first with formatting issues: add a working title and by-lines, create paragraphs, add punctuation, eliminate or bracket your interview questions.
- Next, tackle basic editing issues: edit for repetition, complete or delete sentence fragments; eliminate "verbal tics" (phrases like "you know, or "sort of" that occur repeatedly), work on improving the transitions between different parts of the story.
- Third, consider some of the more
complex editing issues: whether (and where) to move text around to
create a more coherent story; how to deal with the differences between what's
grammatical acceptable in spoken, but not written English; what to do with
colloquial dialects or non-native English speakers.
Tip: Save each of these stages as a separate file so that you can refer back to earlier, less edited versions if necessary.
- Finally, no discussion of editing would be complete without considering issues of confidentiality & approvals: changing names or not; dealing with sensitive information; deciding with whom you may share the transcript, profile, or stories you have heard; and obtaining your interviewee's review and approval for the finished profile.