Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Editing, Defined

Often when writers talk about "editing," they really mean, "proofreading" or catching and correcting typos and minor errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

In actuallity, proofreading is the last step, after all the editing is complete. The process of editing has several components. They are:

Manuscript assessment: Okay, so maybe an assessment is not a the same as editing. But an assessment gives  an author a good first glimpse of how much editing - including self-editing - may be required. An assessment also provides a wide critique of the manuscript's strengths and weaknesses, along with overall suggestions for improvement.

Developmental editing: This type of editing targets content and structure: plot, pacing, dialogue, characterization, inconsistences, wordiness, and over-writing.

Line editing: the The editor literally examines the manuscript line by line. Paragraphs may be rearanged, and sentences may be rewritten to ensure smooth transitions and prose.

Copy editing: Corrects word choices, spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

And finally, proofreading.

For authors that choose to self-publish, I cannot stress enough the importance of editing, and that should be where authors spend the most money.

Yes, self-editing is important. Self-editing involves setting the completed manuscript aside for a month or two and then moving through the above steps. That, too, is a process.

Rigorous self-editing will cut down your editing expense. But authors are too close to their works to be the final eyes.

By "too close," I don't mean "emotionally attached."

You see, when one constructs an entire manuscript word by word, it becomes impossible to notice every flaw. The brain simply cannot see them anymore. A pair of fresh expert eyes notices them instantly.

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