Friday, October 13, 2017

Writing: Edits

A reader recently asked me to comment on the types of editing my novels go through. Happy to oblige.

SUBSTANTIVE EDIT (SOMETIMES CALLED MACRO EDIT): This is the “20,000 foot view” that looks at plot, hook, story arc…call it what you will. This is a second pair of eyes looking at your idea and making suggestions. In my novels, the macro edit has sometimes (not often) involved some simple changes. Other times it has suggested that I change some scenes or characters. I have had to change the sex, racial background, or other characteristics of the people involved—but the suggestions were good. A few times, I have written ten thousand words, only to be told that I really should go in another direction. I did…and it helped. Be choosy about seeking advice, but when it comes,  listen to it. 

COPY EDITING: This one corrects grammar, word selection, punctuation, and the hundred-and-one things that have slipped by the author. It’s sometimes called LINE EDITING, although technically there’s a difference—but don’t ask me to explain it here.  A good copy editor will also look for frequent use of some words, employment of “weak” words, and other things that the thought of correcting will cause a writer to tear his/her hair out and say things they didn’t learn in Sunday School. A good copy editor is worth his/her weight in gold. But caution—a bad copy editor may try to rewrite your story in their voice. That’s when an agent can speak to your editor about the assignment of that editor. Of course, if you're indie, you're on your own. Again, choose wisely and well.

PROOFREADING: This is typically done after galley proofs have been set. When I have had my work published by a conventional publisher, typically I get the galleys while at the same time a proofreader is reading through their set. A good proofreader may also pick up errors the copy editor didn’t find. And--getting tired of this?--if you're an indie author, this is up to you as well.

There are other types of edits, depending on how you classify them, but these three are essential. Do you have other questions about publishing? Let me know, and I’ll try to address them.

Tweet with a single click: “A brief view of the types of editing every novel should go through.”

Note: On October 19, I will join 23 other authors in a Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt. This will be one of the sites. Go to each site, read the brief post by an author that site hosts, then gather the “secret word.” There are prizes at the end of the hunt for fortunate entrants. You’ll get full directions when the hunt starts. It runs through October 22.

In the meantime, watch for a post from me about a time limited reduction in the price of one of my novellas from October 16-20. Just a heads-up.


Paula said...

Thanks for the interesting post, Richard. Since I’m not a writer( except for reviews of the books I read) I like to learn about the process.
I tend to be a Grammar Watchdog. I even rewrite my reviews as I’m posting them. Thanks for the information.

Richard Mabry said...

Paula, you'll have achieved the ultimate when you begin to edit your emails and comments (as I now do). It's not a bad habit, though. Thanks for your comment.

greg fuller said...

Good Post. I enjoyed learning why it takes a long time for a novel to be published. I do enjoy your novels.

Patricia Bradley said...

I have been blessed to have really good editors and have never (so far) balked at any of their suggestions. I figure they know what readers want and are looking for. :-) And they catch my favorite words. I wish I'd kept up with how many times I used seems in my last manuscript. :-)

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Patricia. I agree--editors are (generally) good at their craft. I have, on one occasion, had to complain via my agent about the line editor who wanted to rewrite my novel. That's when I learned that I don't have to blindly accept every suggestion.