Copy desk aims to help writers put their best words forward

February 11, 2006

After 19 years spent primarily as a full-time scribe, I now find myself on the other side of the desk. The copy desk, to be specific.

After 19 years spent primarily as a full-time scribe, I now find myself on the other side of the desk. The copy desk, to be specific.

As chief copy editor of Diagnostic Imaging and its related print and online publications, I finally understand who holds the real power behind the pen. But contributors and staff writers need not fear. My goal is simple: to help you put your best words forward.

In my career here, I've been fortunate to hold many titles, from assistant to senior and feature editor, as well as both publications editor and editorial director. I've found that all of the writing and editing tools I've honed throughout the years are in use daily in my new post. One thing I do promise: An itchy pencil will not be among them.

While I may not sport an eyeshade, my approach to copy is definitely old school. The elements of style are critical to any publication, but a cogent message must first exist before they can be applied. By adding a content perspective to the day-to-day editing process and using my writing know-how to shape articles that engage readers, I hope to nudge writers toward realizing their full potential.

When my shift from writer to copy editor was first announced-or leaked, if truth be told-colleagues scratched their heads. Why trade the thrill of a byline for a seat behind the scenes? The secret is that there are few challenges more satisfying than helping writers tell their stories. I look forward to the opportunity to help you tell yours.

Ms. Dakins is copy chief of Diagnostic Imaging.