Gil R.: I have a request that would help tremendously with expediting the project. Right now, when I edit bios about 80% of the time it takes involves adding basic explanatory material, much of which I have to take the time to look up. A typical bio of, say, 3500 words will have a few minor typos and a few sentences that can be rewritten to make them flow better, and could be completely edited in about 10-15 minutes, if not for one recurring problem: I usually have to spend another hour or so on the stuff that needs to be added for the benefit of most readers, who don't know every last fact about the Civil War. Some examples of what I mean:
* Every time mention is made of the Peninsula Campaign, I need to add that it began in March 1862, that it was an attempt to take Richmond by landing amphibiously on the Virginia Peninsula, and/or some other basic piece of information -- all of which takes time. Same goes for First Bull Run, which I usually need to identify as the first major battle of the war, a decisive Confederate victory, etc. Same goes for Vicksburg, the strategic importance of which is often omitted. And so on.
* When less famous battles, campaigns and expeditions are mentioned, I need to spend time reading up on them to refresh my memory, so that I don't write something incorrect. The other day, for example, I had to read up on the Camden Expedition so that I could describe it. If a general's most important moment in the war came at some obscure battle, it's important to say something about that battle -- and 95% of the time this requires me to spend time getting up to speed on it.
* Too often, the significance of significant battles -- or else some other important piece of information about that battle (such as who won) that is relevant to the narrative -- is omitted. This is also true for such key parts of famous battles as Pickett's Charge, Horseshoe Ridge, the Hornet's Nest, etc. If a bio says that a general attacked the Hornet's Nest, I usually end up having to explain what that was.
* While I do not believe that dates should be provided for every single battle, the reader needs to have a sense of the chronology involved, so I often end up having to insert dates, many of which I need to look up. (My preference, instead of just spitting out dates, is to give the reader a sense of time like this: "Though he performed heroically at Second Bull Run on August 29, 1862, just nineteen days later Gen. X made a tactical blunder at Antietam that led him and half of his men to be shot and wounded. He didn't return to action until the Battle of Fredericksburg that December." The date of Fredericksburg isn't that important, so long as the reader knows that the general was recuperating from mid-September until December.)
Just copied this so that newbies find it and get more clues about what should be in a bio.
< Message edited by jkBluesman -- 10/16/2007 11:50:14 AM >
"War is the field of chance."
Carl von Clausewitz