Developmental Editors are NOT Copyeditors

When I tell people that I’m an editor, the first response that I typically get is something along the lines of, “You must love spelling.” It’s amazing how many people assume that editing is just looking at the punctuation and grammar, perhaps finding typos. However, this proofreading type of editing is the final stage of the process. Before you get to that point, there are so many other aspects.

I have written about the stages of editing before, posting the below info-graphic about when you need to seek those external eyes and what type of external eyes you need. However, I still encounter many who are confused about what editing really entails.

The stages of editing info-graphic

The stages of editing

In this week’s post, I thought I’d elaborate on the two main categories of professional editors that you’ll likely encounter, and why BOTH are vital to the health (and success) of a story. I’m talking in particular about developmental editors and copyeditors.

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Trick from the Editor’s Hat: A List of Crutch Words

You spend hours, days, even weeks editing. You're struggling to get through it — but don't give up. Writing a story is easy; shaping it into something worth reading is where the true talent of the writer lies.

Here is just one of the many tricks that I employ when editing both my own and clients' writing.

CREATE A SPREADSHEET OF CRUTCH WORDS

While writing, we often have a list of words that we'll fall back on when we can't think of another word to write. Sometimes, we don't even realise that we're doing it. It's not until our critique partners, beta readers, or editors point it out to us that we see the repetitive word glaring at us.

"How could I have missed that? It's as obvious as the nose on my face."

Well, it's quite easy to miss things when you don't know that they're a problem. However, the solution is surprisingly simple.

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Trick from the Editor’s Hat: Apps that Read Aloud

You spend hours/days/weeks editing and you’re struggling to get through it. Here is just one of the many tricks one could when editing.

Use an app to read your story to you

Many will happily agree that hearing a passage will trigger different editing skills than reading a passage. When we read a passage, our brains often fill in the missing words or correct the awkward sentence so it reads as we think it should, but it’s not what it says. As mentioned in a previous post, reading a passage aloud allows you to register unnatural dialogue, awkward phrases and many other things that could have been missed.

Let’s face reality: not everyone is comfortable with reading things aloud to themselves, but there is a solution. There are apps out there that will read a story to you.

If you are on a Mac system, the app for this is already built-in. Programs like Scrivener have incorporated the Mac text-to-speech features into its operations. Some of the voices are extremely unemotional and computerized, but a few of them aren’t. It might take some trial-and-error to find the voice that works for you, but at least the option is there.

Windows now have these systems built-in too, however, they don’t seem to be as developed as the Mac versions. Saying that, there’s nothing stopping you from downloading an app or using an on-line one.

You could convert your manuscript to a format suitable for an eBook reader and use the text-to-speech functions on that. My Kindle provides me with a male and female voice options. (Both of them make me laugh when they attempt to read some of the unconventional character names.)

There are also text-to-speech apps available for Andoid and iOS.

If you can force yourself past the laughing fit that will likely ensue when that computerized Stephen Hawking voice starts reading your erotic sex scene, this could provide another way to pick up those editing blunders that you might have missed otherwise.

(Now I think I’ll go hunt out those hot and steamy scenes to throw through a text-to-speech program. I could use a good laugh.)

See other Tips and Tricks from the Editor.

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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2017

Trick from the Editor’s Hat: Use Paper or an Ebook Reader

You spend hours/days/weeks editing and you’re struggling to get through it. Here is just one of the many tricks that I employ when editing both my own and clients’ writing.

Use Paper or an eBook Reader

I never do all my editing directly on the computer. The back-lit screen is too much on my eyes. The smooth reflective surface will catch the overhead lighting, adding to the eye strain. This is why I don’t use a tablet for editing either. They too are back-lit and reflective. No, when I can, when the size of a document permits me, I will print out the manuscript and pull out my trusty red pen, writing all over that printed document. In those instances where the manuscript is too large, say 100k words, then out comes my Kindle and I’ll read the document on that, adding comments and notes to the file as I go. (Yes, you can do that on a Kindle.)Read More

Trick from the Editor's Hat

Trick from the Editor’s Hat: The “Was” Edit

When editing a manuscript, one should always be looking at ways to tighten the writing and language used. There are many tricks that one can employ. Here is one that I often pull out of my hat when editing.

The “Was” Edit

This editing technique is incredibly simple: search for every instance of is/are/was/were and ask yourself if can you reword that sentence to removed that instance of was-type words.Read More

Trick from the Editor's Hat

Trick from the Editor’s Hat: Read Aloud

You’re staring at a manuscript that you have spent countless hours, days, weeks, preparing for publication or submission. It’s as stellar as you can make it. Or is it?

Here is just one of the tricks that I occasionally pull out of my hat when editing. This technique is the best method of making dialogue sound natural and will pick up the awkward sentences faster than any other method. There are times when I use this technique while writing too. It is one of the best tricks one can have stashed under their hat.

Read Aloud

You can read a line over and over again, but you still don’t see the mistake. It’s something incredibly simple, like a missing “the”, but you still don’t see it. Our eyes filter what our minds see. The eyes make the corrections needed and hence our brains don’t register anything different. However, when we read something out, vocalize the line, our brains work differently. And guess what… That missing “the” becomes obvious.Read More

Trick from the Editor's Hat

Trick from the Editor’s Hat: The Backwards Edit

You’re staring at a manuscript that you have spent countless hours, days, weeks, preparing for publication or submission. It’s as stellar as you can make it. Or is it?

Here is just one of the tricks that I occasionally pull out of my hat when editing. It can be slow going, but it can help you isolate those awkward, sticky sentences and eliminate those beasts.

The Backwards Edit

During a backwards edit, you read a manuscript from the last sentence backwards to the first. When you do this, you’re unable to focus on the story; sentences lose their contextual meaning. As a consequence you focus entirely on the words.Read More

Editing: The Who, What and When

When I tell people that I’m a freelance editor, it’s quite common for people to assume that I spend day in and day out just looking at spelling, grammar and punctuation. I don’t get this reaction from just the general public either. Many writers, especially new writers, also make this assumption. However, editing is so much more.

Editing falls into four main categories: critique, developmental, line and copy-edit. Each stage is necessary to the development of a manuscript. While the initial drafting of a story is a solitary practice, it’s vital for every writer to seek out those extra sets of eyes to provide objective input. The who and the when will depend entirely on what stage your manuscript is at. The stages of editing (depicted in the figure below) are the same for both traditional and self-publication, it’s just the players that may change.Read More

Coin purse

But a publisher will have their editor work on my manuscript… Right?

Many writers eventually ask themselves that big question: do I really need an editor? Freelance editors, especially the good ones, are not cheap. I know this because I’m a freelance editor myself, and even my own fees can be considered to be on the scary side. But the question is not whether or not an editor is needed, but rather is the money worth it?

One-word answer: yes. Now of course I’m going to say that. I’m an editor myself, but let me shift this into my own experience as a writer.Read More