Let’s be real! No one wants to hear that his or her self-determined work of art is subpar. That is understandable, but tough skin is essential if you are serious about producing an above-average product. Many authors are hesitant to invest in all three stages of editing. However, it’s vital that authors recognize the importance of each step in the process. The road to becoming a successful author is dependent upon one’s adherence to this mandate. Be sure to seek professional editing services, not close friends or family members who love to read your projects. Your “baby” deserves to be cared for by an objective experienced eye. The purpose of professional editing is to strengthen the content and minimize the flaws that exist within your manuscript after the cycle of self-editing, rewriting, receiving feedback from a critique group and more rewriting has been completed.
The following brief summary illustrates a few main purposes of each editing method.
The first priority is to acquire a developmental editor who will work side-by-side with you to:
- Explain what works in the manuscript and what doesn’t
- Point out areas in which the story does not make sense and inconsistency issues
- Ensure that the plot is well-defined
- Determine if the characters’ motivations line up with the characters’ personalities, feelings, thoughts and actions
- Evaluate the Point of View’s validity throughout the document
- Check that the showing of the characters’ actions is not overshadowed by an exhausting amount of telling
- Assist in the proper set-up of dialogue and paragraph formation
- Flag inconsistencies in setting and descriptions
- Establish proper pacing and conflict resolution
- Eliminate aspects of the manuscript that are not true to its established genre
- Reorganize, add or remove scenes as needed
- Provide guidance on all trouble areas
Once that detailed assessment has been completed and all of the necessary changes have been entered, seek out a copy editor skilled in the fine art of:
- Sentence structure
- Word reduction
- Reducing redundancy
- Improving the flow of the text
Naturally, one would assume that the aforementioned steps are enough to guarantee a fine-tuned manuscript, but that is not the case. The editing process does not stop there. A proofreader is the essential missing link in this equation. What can a proofreader offer that the developmental editor and copy editor cannot? The proofreader serves as the final official set of eyes on your manuscript. He/she is the polisher, so to speak. The one who is there to add in that missing punctuation, forgotten word or two or three. And seal any loose ends—misspellings, misconstrued character names or minor formatting issues.
In essence, no stage should be skipped. The developmental editor, copy editor and proofreader are key participants in the transition from a mediocre effort to a job well-done.
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