Editing - an important phase of the writing process

In her opening address at Breaking the Code: from published to best-selling author, Linda Langton stressed the importance of editing. Linda is Founder and President of the successful international literary and film consultancy, Langtons International Agency, based in New York. She was not alone. The importance of meticulous editing was a recurring theme throughout the symposium.

Writers cannot self-edit their work. We are too close to it and ideas are filling our minds with distracting thoughts so when we read as we type we are seeing words that are not on the page but rather in our minds. The same goes for information that the reader needs in order to follow the story. We may think we have explained how something happens or described the scene, the person or an interaction adequately but in fact there is a huge gap that leaves the reader puzzled and trying to put the disparate pieces together.

This is not to say this always happens but it is something an independent editor will pick up on if it has.

An editor will also pick up on other details: different descriptions for the same person – blue eyes for half the book then suddenly brown, or inconsistencies in behaviour – mild mannered then suddenly an outburst that does not fit the characterisation or the person is somewhere but it is not explained how he or she got there. The list goes on.

For this reason there are editors who specialise in specific editing. Some can do it all but it is good to get someone who can do specific editing as you go through the process of revising.

Developmental editing is often called an assessment and it gives writers feedback on the strength of the story idea, plot line, voice, point-of-view and genre choice.

Structural editing focuses on the story structure. Does the story flow, is it logical and is it consistent? Is it trying to be too clever or talking to the reader as if he or she is a child or are there big chunks of padding or purple patches.

Copy editing is the one we are most familiar with. This is the line by line check for grammar and spelling mistakes.

The final edit is that one last proof read to make sure nothing has been missed and while I hear you say ‘that’s unnecessary’, you will be surprised by the number of errors this last edit picks up.

We at The Story Mint have learnt this the hard way. In the early days we wrote stories that made all of the above mistakes. They were discovered when we produced the first Anthology. The transference from online to paperback seemed to emphasise the glaring mistakes our eyes skimmed over when we read the story online. Our latest anthology was a great improvement on the first for this reason.

When people say writing is a journey, they are right. We are always improving, always learning.


I wonder if you have an editing story. If so, please share it. We also welcome editing tips and any other thoughts you might have.

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