What is the editing process like? You will probably get a different answer from each author or editor you ask. For myself, it’s frustrating, exciting and fun. I actually like editing. Actually, let me rephrase that, I like edits after my initial freak out over seeing my manuscript looking like it’s bleeding all over the place from all the red marks.
Different editors have different preferences so the process varies from editor to editor, publishing house to publishing house and author to author. But all edits cover the same things: plot holes, grammar, mechanics, spelling and finally line edits.
I have to admit being partial to a particular order. My preference is to have all major plot issues fixed in round one. Grammar, mechanics, repetitive word use, etc. in subsequent rounds. So let’s use that order for the sake of this post.
Round One. Depending on the author sometimes this takes several rounds. I will admit I usually don’t need more than one round for plot issues. Not because I don’t have plot issues from time to time, but because I love this part of editing. This is where I get to use my imagination. This is where I get to play. This is where I get to add words, or in some cases axe words. This is the creative part of editing. I like fixing problems.
Round Two. Grammar and word choice. Pretty self explanatory. I’ve gotten much better in my grammar, but I wouldn’t say it’s my strong point. There are several helpful recourses out there to help authors improve so this part of editing doesn’t seem so daunting. I’ve read several good books on the subject and there are also grammar checkers. Personally speaking, I’ve never used a grammar checker, but some authors do. As for editing grammar, I’ll admit this part is not as fun, but I do learn a lot.
Round Three. Um, let’s go with mechanics and flow. By this I mean showing as opposed to telling, passive writing, making sure your sentences flow nicely and axing the purple prose. And what I mean by purple prose is flowery description that takes away from the readability. Ex: His magical love wand of flesh. Really? :) No, I’ve never used that. If I ever do I hope my editor punches me in the throat.
Round Four. Repetitive words and actions. This is the hard part of editing in my opinion. There are only so many ways to say things. A good thesaurus really comes in handy in this. I admit, I’m bad at this. I never seem to pick the same word or action for each manuscript. I pick new ones every manuscript. I’ve never used them, but I have it on good authority that there are programs out there that help with this issues too.
Line Edits. Line edits are done by someone other than your editor. Line edits consist of just about anything that you and your editor may have missed. Because let’s face it after looking at something so many times, you miss stuff and start thinking you see things where there isn’t anything. You do silly things like read the word “tal” and think it says “tail” because subconsciously you know the word is supposed to be “tail” and your mind fills that in for you.
I’m sure I’ve missed something, and again I can’t attest to how everyone does their edits, but I hope that explains a little about the editing process. Contrary to what some authors will tell you, editing isn’t evil nor are editors. :) It’s all part of the process and can be almost as fun as the actual writing.
Written by JL Langley
JL is a full-time writer, with over ten novels to her credit. Among her hobbies she includes reading, practicing her marksmanship (she happens to be a great shot), gardening, working out (although she despises cardio), searching for the perfect chocolate dessert (so far as she can tell ALL chocolate is perfect, but it requires more research)
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