Inside The Edit Process of a Restaurant Review: The Meddlesome Moth in Dallas

All writers need editors. They help us stay focused. They put up with our propensity to procrastinate. They pull us out of rabbit holes.

They also cut the fakafaka out of our copy.

This month I reviewed the Meddlesome Moth for D Magazine. Each month before I type the first word,  I know I’m usually “allowed” around 1,600 words for a lead dining review. How much space I actually get is determined by many factors but the major word-killer is ad sales—too much or too little. I turned in my original review of MM at 1,894 words. There were so many interesting story angles and I tried to get them all in.

A few days later, my esteemed editor Tim “Slasher” Rogers says, “Dude, I’m cutting Moth to 1,100.” Tempers flared. “Why don’t you just cut my heart out while your at it, Rogers!” I screamed. I argued for every word and suggested cuts in other sections of the magazine which led to flaring tempers at other sections of the magazine. It’s not always fun and games around here.

Anywhoo, Tim pissed me off because he cut a whole section on a beer flight I sampled with the assistance of Matt Quenette, one of only four level-two Certified Cicerones in the state. And he snipped out the nugget on why Moth owner Shannon Wynne ended the names of his first restaurants and clubs with an “O.” (8-0, Tango, Rio, etc.)

If you are interested in the dirty side of the magazine writing business, take a look at the pdf of the original text with edits  I recovered from the bowels of Tim’s computer. (Note: what look like typos and space problems are  mostly quirky MAC to PC random symbols and letters.) Hurry, I don’t know how long this post will be live. I’m sure Timmy will be along soon to chop it down.


  • marcia marcia

    Do you know what’s cool about copy decimated by your editor? You can use it as filler in your blog. IJS.

  • Yes, that is true! That is why I pegged it SLOW NEWS DAY.

  • Jackson

    In reading the original copy, a quibble emerges over something that didn’t get trimmed but should have.

    We’re told that 8.0 bar opened in 1980 “in a then-obscure location called the Quadrangle.”

    I don’t think the Quadrangle was obscure. Scratch that. I know for a fact the Quadrangle wasn’t obscure, anymore than the intersection of Maple and Routh can be said to be obscure. Which can’t be said. Not since, oh, about 1910.

    All developments have cycles, and the Quadrangle, one of Big D’s first urban retail developments, has had periods of decline and renaissance since the first buildings went up in 1967-68. And it certainly needed a jolt by 1980, as its retail was flagging. Shannon’s 8.0 was just the ticket. But the development wasn’t obscure. After all, Theater Three has been there since 1969.

    Indeed, in the mid to late ’70s, the best Italian restaurant in the city, arguably, was Sergio’s at the Quadrangle. Luciano Cola’s career came out of that shop.

    As Twain noted, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

  • air

    That beer flight bit would have been great! Although I like St. Arnold’s Summer Pils, I feel the same way as NN regarding that style in general but there’s a few good ones out there. I also like Live Oak Pils, Oskar Blues Mama’s Lil Yella Pils and Victory Prima Pils. Currently hunting down Real Ale Han’s Pils…

  • air, the flight program is my new favorite activity. In the course of reviewing, I tasted 30 beers. Only $10 a flight and equal to 2 beers. I’m on a summer ale with fruit components kick. blueberry, cherry, any berry. Especially obscure berries.
    Sorry Jackson, despite what happened before the late 70s, nobody was going to the Quad and it was mainly offices and empty shops. After 8-0 and looking back, I think “then-obscure” is fair. 15-15

  • Jackson

    Well, I did call it just a quibble. Still, I think “struggling” and “in trouble” would more accurately describe the Quad’s condition by 1980. To me, no place in the middle of town, on well known and well traveled streets, can be said to be obscure.

    Let’s call the whole thing off and do the Green Room!

  • We went to the Moth for probably the eighth time on saturday and were somewhat underwhelmed by some of our choices. Hummus with cold pita, not room temperature, cold. You have to heat pita for hummus – isn’t it like a law?

    Grilled or something tofu. Bland, bland, bland.

    The fish & chips, which I’ve had before, had a strange taste to the batter – five-spice? Whatever it was it didn’t work for me this time around. Also if you are going to make girder sized french fries make sure they are cooked thru.

    The thrill is gone…

  • Julia

    Intersting post Nancy. Showing your warts and all. So do have no say when things get taken out? Is it the same for newspapers?

  • Wm. B. Travis

    Outrageous that advertizing revenue space should give space to newsreporting! Who runs this place, the management of the Shotgun News?

  • aaron

    Ahh the joys of InCopy.

  • john

    Too bad Rogers doesn’t go back to being an anonymous funny man.