Substantive editing sample 48:
The royal client

In this sample from a memoir, I needed to check quite a few facts about the Saudi royal family and then correct the author’s assertions about the kinship connections. I also needed to fix some ambiguous syntax.

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This sample is presented here with the author’s permission.

Original
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The agent asked that we come to Saudi Arabia to complete the order. I had no idea if this was “real,” but I indicated that Boyd Vanover, our engineer, and I would be willing to travel to meet the client if the buyer would furnish us with two round-trip first class airline tickets, realizing that if the tickets actually arrived, we had a legitimate prospect. I told the agent that we could make the trip the following week, and he said he would make the arrangements. The tickets, worth about $11,000 each, promptly arrived.

As arrangements for the trip were put into place, the agent told me that the client was HRH Fahd bin Sultan Al Saud. The Saudi royal family is multi-layered, with some of the royal family and their offspring ranking much higher than others. We quickly determined that Prince Fahd was the grandson of the king and the son of Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defense who was also second in line for the throne. Prince Fahd was the governor of the province of Tabuk. Things were looking good.

3 pages later

A couple of years later, we received a call from Prince Fahd’s staff who told us that the prince wanted to order two more Newells. One would be for the prince’s use while skiing in Europe and the other was said to be a gift for his father, Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Minister of Defense for Saudi Arabia. In 2005, he became the crown prince, one step away from the throne but died 2011 before his father the King, passed away. In any case, Boyd and I were asked to fly to Monaco and meet Prince Fahd on his 177-foot yacht moored there. Monaco sounded like tough duty, so off we went in search of our prince. Unfortunately, soon after we arrived, the Prince decided to cruise to the luxury resort island of Sardinia, so off we flew to Sardinia in pursuit. Perseverance paid off, we got the two orders and built the coaches. It is my understanding that Prince Fahad never used the coach we shipped to Europe, and we don’t know if the coach shipped to Saudi Arabia for Prince Sultan was ever actually used.

Markup
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The agent asked that we come to Saudi Arabia to complete the order. I had no idea if this was “real,” but I indicated that Boyd Vanover, our engineer, and I would be willing to travel to meet the client if the buyer would furnish us with two round-trip first class first-class airline tickets, realizing that [ambiguity repair; (clearing up who was “realizing” [“figuring” might be a better verb]: “we,” not “the buyer”)] tickets; we figured that if the tickets actually arrived, we had a legitimate prospect. I told the agent that we could make the trip the following week, and he said he would make the arrangements. The tickets, worth about $11,000 each, promptly arrived.

As arrangements for the trip were put into place, the agent told me that the client was HRH Fahd His Royal Highness Fahd bin Sultan Al Saud. The Saudi royal family is multi-layered, is multilayered, with some of the royal family and the royals and their offspring ranking much higher than others. We quickly determined that Prince Fahd was the grandson of the king of Saudi Arabia’s first king [Wikipedia correction: Prince Fahd, born 1950, is son of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 1928–2011, who was son of Ibn Saud (Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman ibn Faisal ibn Turki ibn Abdulla ibn Muhammad Al Saud), 1875–1953, the first monarch and founder of Saudi Arabia; see Wikipedia for “Fahd bin Sultan Al Saud,” which has him being the second eldest son of “Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud” (another Wikipedia link), who is a son of “Ibn Saud” (a third Wikipedia link)] and the son of Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defense who of the Saudi minister of defense, who was also second in line for the throne. [Should “who was also second in line” be changed to “who would become second in line”? (It isn’t until 2005 that the minister of defense, Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, becomes crown prince.)] Prince Fahd was the governor of the province of Tabuk. Things were looking good.

3 pages later

A couple of years later, we received a call from Prince Fahd’s staff who staff, who told us that the prince wanted to order two more Newells. One would be for the prince’s use while skiing in Europe and Europe, and the other was said to be a gift for his father, Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Minister of Defense minister of defense for Saudi Arabia. In 2005, [since the sale of the two more Newells was in 2002 (a “couple of years later” than the 2000 sale), the following sentence is parenthetical (an “aside” from your discussion of selling the two more Newells), extra information about what later became of Prince Sultan, so I have enclosed the sentence within parentheses.] (In 2005, he became Prince Sultan would become the crown prince, one step away from the throne but died 2011 before his father the King, passed away. throne, but he would die in 2011, before the king passed away.) [Again, from Wikipedia, Prince Sultan (“Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud” is the Wikipedia link) was not the son of the king who was ruling in 2011 and who passed away in 2015; that was “Abdullah of Saudi Arabia” (another Wikipedia link), whose full name was Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and who was no doubt kin to Prince Sultan but not his father.] In any case, Boyd and I were asked to fly to Monaco and meet Prince Fahd on his 177-foot yacht moored yacht that would be moored there. [I broke the paragraph here.]

Monaco sounded like tough duty, so off we went in search of our prince. Unfortunately, soon after we arrived, the Prince decided prince decided to cruise to the luxury resort island of Sardinia, so off we flew to Sardinia in pursuit. Perseverance paid off, we off; we got the two orders and built the coaches. It is my understanding that Prince Fahad Prince Fahd never used the coach we shipped to Europe, and we don’t know if the coach shipped to Saudi Arabia for Prince Sultan was ever actually used.

Result (after the author addressed my comments and inserted his own revised text, which I copyedited and segmented into shorter paragraphs)
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The agent asked that we come to Saudi Arabia to complete the order. I had no idea if this was “real,” but I indicated that Boyd Vanover, our engineer, and I would be willing to travel to meet the client if the buyer would furnish us with two round-trip first-class airline tickets; we figured that if the tickets actually arrived, we had a legitimate prospect. I told the agent that we could make the trip the following week, and he said he would make the arrangements. The tickets, worth about $11,000 each, promptly arrived.

As arrangements for the trip were put into place, the agent told me that the client was His Royal Highness Fahd bin Sultan Al Saud. The Saudi royal family is multilayered, with some of the royals and their offspring ranking much higher than others. We quickly determined that Prince Fahd was the grandson of Saudi Arabia’s first king and the son of the Saudi minister of defense, who would become second in line for the throne. Prince Fahd was the governor of the province of Tabuk. Things were looking good.

3 pages later

A couple of years later, we received a call from Prince Fahd’s staff, who told us that the prince wanted to order two more Newells. One would be for the prince’s use while skiing in Europe, and the other was said to be a gift for his father, Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the minister of defense for Saudi Arabia. (In 2005, Prince Sultan would become the crown prince, one step away from the throne, but he would die in 2011, before the king passed away.) In any case, Boyd and I were asked to fly to Monaco and meet Prince Fahd on his 177-foot yacht that would be moored there.

Monaco sounded like tough duty, so off we went in search of our prince. Unfortunately, soon after we arrived, the prince decided to cruise to the luxury resort island of Sardinia, so off we flew to Sardinia in pursuit. Perseverance paid off; we got the two orders and built the coaches. It is my understanding that Prince Fahd never used the coach we shipped to Europe, and we don’t know if the coach shipped to Saudi Arabia for Prince Sultan was ever actually used.

 

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