Perfection in writing is a work in progress.
Editing is the process of revising your first draft and making it crisp, concise and easy to read. Whether you’re writing a book or an article for an academic journal, it is always best to revise and make it as error-free as possible before sending it off to the publisher.
When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.~ Stephen King Click To Tweet
Professional editors offer different kinds of editing services where each service tackles a different aspect of improving the work. The editing services or stages are mainly categorized as developmental or structural edit, line edit, copy edit and proofreading; practised in that order. Most commonly availed are line editing and copyediting. The terms are confusing for many authors as the terms are used interchangeably by some editors.
What is Line Editing?
Line editing involves checking each sentence and paragraph to ensure lucidity and fluency. The aim is to make your manuscript an enjoyable read by keeping your writing clear, fluid and in sync with your writing style. Through line editing, the editor makes sure that the right atmosphere is created in a reader’s mind, and correct word choice conveys the right meaning.
An editor may help you note and revise:
- Redundancies: Overused words or unnecessary sentences presenting the same information in different ways
- Run-on sentences
- Overuse of the passive voice
- Dialogue or paragraphs that need to be tightened up and made crisp
- Passages where the action or meaning is confusing because of irregular transitions or use of weak words and phrases that cause poor passage structure
- Confusing narrative digressions
The first draft is black and white. Editing gives the story color.~ Emma Hill Click To Tweet
What is Copyediting?
While line edit focuses on the essence of the emotion evoked with each sentence and paragraph, copyediting is technical. Copyediting involves checking your manuscript for errors in grammar, punctuation, syntax, and spelling. To avoid spending time and money on correcting text that might be revised altogether, copyedit is always done after line edit.
A general editor involved with line editing may or may not offer copyediting services. Copyediting is the penultimate step before publishing, just before proofreading. In a way, copyediting can be considered to be the last step at the author’s end since proofreading happens at the publisher’s end.
A copyeditor may help you with the following:
- Consistency in spelling, hyphenation, numerals, fonts, and capitalization: For example is it Sita on page 28 and Seeta on page 140? Or do you use both British and American English spelling variations interchangeably, such as colour vs. color?
- Mark vague or factually incorrect statements in non-fiction manuscripts like historical pieces and memoirs.
- Take care of internal consistency: Your plot, setting, and character traits need to be consistent. For example, if you have introduced a character as a brunette with hazel brown eyes in the first chapter, later on, you cannot describe her as a blonde or a brunette with black eyes.
Only the blank page needs no editing.~ Marty Rubin Click To Tweet
Example of line and copy editing:
It’s been exactly 3 yrs today he left me. Or should I say love left us.what have I not tried in these 3 years to forget him and yet those 12 mths sent wth him stand out as strong as ever and dont leave me to live peacefully ? Over and over I remember him and then I cry a lot.so much things I want to tell him, but won’t. Not because he won’t listen, but because it does not make any sense to talking someone who does not even care. I remember what all he said before going.‘Just leave me alone now. I dont want to keep in touch.in 1 yr I have lost myself.i don want you.”
After Line Editing:
It’s been 3 yrs today since he left me. Or should I say love left us. In this duration, I have tried everything to make myself forget him. The memories of the 12 mnths I spent wth him haunt me. My tears haven’t stopped and my heart is still bereft of peace. There were things I wanted to tell him, but I won’t. There is no point saying anything to someone who no longer cares. I remember what he said before going. ‘Just leave me alone now. I dont want to keep in touch.in 1 yr I have lost myself.i no longer want you in my life.”
After Copy Editing:
It has been three years today since he left me. Or should I say love left us? In this duration, I have tried everything to make myself forget him. The memories of the year I spent with him, haunt me. My tears haven’t stopped and my heart is still bereft of peace. There were things I wanted to tell him, but I won’t. There is no point saying anything to someone who no longer cares!
I remember what he said before going, “Just leave me alone now. I don’t want to keep in touch with you. In the past year, I seem to have lost myself. I no longer want you in my life!”
Why Do You Need an Editor?
You could try self-editing or ask a friend to take a look at your work. Many authors prefer peer feedback especially if they are self-publishing. But the value of a professional editor should never be underestimated. Spotting your own errors is very difficult. Once you have gone through your work two or three times, your mind begins to play tricks on you and automatically corrects errors. You also miss instances where the thought in your mind fails to reflect in your writing.
A good editor doesn't rewrite words, she rewires synapses.~ S. Kelley Harrell Click To Tweet
A good editor is fluent in the rules of writing and gives you the best objective view your manuscript needs that makes it shine. However, self-editing should not be completely abandoned. After all, for every mistake you correct, you save the editor’s time and ultimately save money.
Find an editor who is competent, understands your genre, will keep your writing style sacred and your voice unsullied.
To be continued…