Editing: An Overview

Editing is a big hairy monster that writers wrestle with when it’s time to step back from a work and begin thinking about it in a little more critical and analytical way.  While many people think of editing as one thing, there’s several layers to it.


This may be what you think of when you think about editing.  Someone going over punctuation and spelling and fixing issues like a tense out of place here and there.  In general, this kind of editing isn’t going to go into the sentence and restructure it to make it sound better.  This is the last check on the writing to make sure that everything is okay with it.  This is done once the document is close to being done.

Copy-Editing (Heavy, Medium, and Light)

Copy Editing is the kind of editing that happens while the document is still being worked on.  It can range from verifying the validity of facts included, to restructuring sentences to be more technically correct or clear.

This kind of editing is wider than proofreading because at this stage, the writer and editor will need to have many conversations about the kind of work that the writing is doing for potential readers.  Copy editing is where an editor can be more a writer than an editor in the eyes of the people around them.

Developmental Editing

Developmental editing is something that can be done very early on in the document’s conception.  Whether it’s a book or a business plan, this kind of editing is helping set the foundation for the document before the writer sits down to write it.  It may be about imagining the tones and helping influence the organization of the document, but this kind of help can be vital for all sorts of different writing.

In general, you will have to find someone such as a freelancer to do this kind of editing with you.  It isn’t often that developmental editing will be included when a manuscript makes it to a publisher because at this point, the story will already be mostly done.

So what’s the point in knowing about these differences in editing?

Well, if you’re a writer, then you’ll need to know what kind of work you need done on a particular piece.  This will change the amount that an editor may charge.  If you need heavy copy-editing, then they’re going to charge more than someone that will just do proofreading on your document.

If you’re interested in looking into editing as a career, then it’s good to be able to label the range of editing that you can do.  Some people will be much more proficient in helping in the developmental editing process rather than proofreading, or vice versa.



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