Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Editors edit. Writers write.

I’m surprised I need to blog on this, but apparently some people still don’t understand what an editor does.

A writer writes a book. It is her vision, her story, her words. The editor then edits the book.

There are two main types of editing, content editing and line editing. The content edit comes first. This is where the editor checks there are no plot holes or silly things happening. Maybe one scene waffles along for far too long slowing down the story, or two scenes follow each other leaving out an important link that is clear in the author’s head but missed by the reader.

This is often also where POV changes are noted to be fixed and a scene rewritten without too many POV changes or even in a different character’s POV.

Once the big changes are done there’s a line edit where grammar and minor inconsistencies are fixed. The heroine whose eyes miraculously change from blue to brown. The town that is named Steele, Steale, and Steel, and so on. All the spelling, punctuation and grammar errors are corrected now.

An editor DOES NOT rewrite the fixes. She tells the author what is wrong and the author writes them. The editor might change a comma to a period and reign to rein, but she does not rewrite messy paragraphs or even convoluted sentences. The book is the author’s and the words should all be the author’s.

An author requesting an editor to “rewrite my novel to the suggestions of the publisher” is not looking for an editor. What she needs is a co-author or a ghostwriter. A good ghostwriter will do the fixes in the author’s voice.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Sandra Cox said...

Changing the spelling of the name....gets me every time.

Helen Woodall: Freelance Editing said...

Exactly. A tiny thing, yet it pulls the reader right out of the story, so therefore is bad.