This common refrain is heard often in the editing and publishing world. What authors may not know, is that the process of editing is much more than grammar, punctuation, and a spelling check; though those are necessary tasks for any copyeditor or proofreader.
Editing is the single most important component of the writing process.Careful and thoughtful editing can elevate your manuscript from “really good” to “extraordinary.” Often authors make the mistake of thinking that their book is finished once they’ve written a few drafts, and then they’ve checked it through for simple errors of English language usage.
The real crafting of a manuscript is done in the revision phase.A good developmental editor can help you take your raw material and fine-tune your voice and structure, making sure that your story is clear and coherent. Continuity of thought and the consistency and depth of characters are worked with, so that your readers can follow along easily without having to go back and forth in your manuscript in order to figure out what is happening. In a non-fiction manuscript, an eye to the overall development of the intended message is key to keeping your readers informed and interested.
Though the process is different for fiction and non-fiction books, all manuscripts need to be looked at by an objective expert.“Why?” you may ask. It’s because writers (all of us, including myself) get very attached to our writing and we are sometimes unable to see our errors clearly. We also tend to suffer from what Steve, my writer friend, calls “the hungadunga,” (the term is in actuality an obscure, non-related reference to the Marx Brothers’ movie “Animal Crackers”) the tendency to skip over key descriptive pieces in our writing because we, the author, already know what we are trying to say, or where we are going, with our work, but a reader may not be able to follow us as easily. The continuity exists in our brain, but not on the page. That’s a key place where a developmental editor can help.
No matter what stage of writing you are at, from brainstorming, to organizing and outlining your manuscript, to writing your first draft, to revisions, and onward, it is important to keep in mind the following questions:
1) Why am I, personally, writing this book?
2) Who will read this book?
3) Is this book a standalone or part of a series?
4) Would I benefit from writing with someone else, or enlisting someone else after I finish my draft?
5) What do I hope to accomplish with this book?The answers to those questions will help greatly in focusing your intentions on a successful book. A book that is written well and is written with clear intention, has unlimited marketability.Good luck on your writing journey!
See you Beyond the Story…