Editing is as much a skill as writing. It’s one authors have to master – and it’s also a specialty of its own. Done properly, editing can require at least as much time as it takes to draft the original piece. There are three main types:
1. Revision editing
This is, I think, what authors usually mean by ‘editing’. It involves re-thinking the draft text – pondering it, adjusting words, and deciding how to re-cast if necessary.
2. Proof editing
Somebody other than the author reads the finished MS for sense, meaning, consistencies, grammatical accuracy, and offers corrections. It’s demanding; the proof-editor has to be skilled enough at writing to offer fixes in sympathy with the author’s own style. Some publishers also put the book out for fact-checking, a separate process again, at this stage.
3. Line editing
This is the final step before publication. The work is carefully read, ideally by somebody who has never seen it before, for ‘literals’ – literal typographical mistakes, missed full stops, bad spaces and so forth. Usually this is done twice. The ideal process involves two people; one reads aloud, the other cross-checks what they hear against the proof.
How much time do you usually allocate for editing? Do you break it down into a system? How do you tackle this one?
Copyright © 2013 Matthew Wright