Ken Stone: No Mere Muggle

About nine years ago I was writing a book on 1972 Olympic high hurdle champion Rodney Milburn when Ken Stone, copy editor for The San Diego Union-Tribune and webmaster of www.masterstrack.com, emailed me and offered to proofread and edit the beginning chapters in hopes of helping me find a suitable publisher. He loved the first chapter and raved about my writing style. But the second chapter came back to me filled with comments, suggestions, and crossed-out lines. After editing the chapter per his feedback, it dwindled down from its original length of over 11,000 words to being slightly above 8,000. After reading my revised version, he sent it back to me again with a note at the top reading, “Now the real editing begins.”

I was starting to feel incompetent. I had chopped off 3,000 words yet he was still pointing out places where I could pare things down. No word was safe. He had me taking out the’s and a’s if the sentence made sense without them. Despite my wounded pride, I followed all of his suggestions, leaving the word count for the third draft somewhere in the 6,000 range. Finally he emailed me back saying, “Good job.”

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