I am a writer, but I am more importantly an editor.
When it comes to writing, I overwrite to the max. Cutting paragraphs and pages from my fiction benefits me more than any other type of editing or writing I can do.
Those pages still exist in the piece, however, but they are invisible. The work would not have reached its potential had I not filtered through those pages of thoughts and ideas that are no longer necessary to the piece as a whole.
Whether you are a writer who overwrites and must cut, a writer who underwrites and must add, or a combination of the two like most of us, understanding how the writing and editing process works is important to maximize your abilities.
More than Grammar
Editing is not merely correcting grammatical errors. It is finding the most effective way to present the story. It could mean cutting the first 200 pages of a manuscript to begin the story when the real action begins. It could mean completely rewriting the entire point-of-view.
The most important thing to remember in the earliest stages of editing is to ask yourself why a piece isn’t the best it can be and other ways to bring the piece to its fullest potential. Think like a reader, not a writer. The reader wants to hit the heart of the material soon. He or she doesn’t want to dance around pretty sentences or idle while the writer indulges.
Editing Somebody Else’s Work
If you are editing another writer’s work it can be difficult to remain objective and not make changes based on personal preference, but remember to preserve the other writer’s voice and style and make only necessary changes.
That being said, don’t be afraid to make radical suggestions, like restructuring the entire piece or cutting large chunks from the piece, just be sure to do so only if it will help the piece as a whole.
Most writers are open to these changes, which is why they wanted an editor in the first place.
Feeling a bit uninspired while editing your own work or stuck in the middle of an editing project with no motivation to finish? These great writers and editors might have a saying to snap you out of it!
Whether you are editing a 100-page manuscript or a 1,000-page manuscript, it is important to edit to help the work to be its best and not make changes just based on ease, personal taste or writing style.