Editing Your Work
Editing Your Work
Russell Celyn Jones (Published writer. Professor of Creative Writing and Director of the MA Programme at Birkbeck College (University of London).) gives expert video advice on: How can I tell if my novel is any good?; Why does my work need to be edited?; Can I edit my own novel? and more...
Why does my work need to be edited?
Writing is re-writing, in that it is a constant editorial process. By the time your book is sent to a publisher, and if they accept it for publication the editor will invariably want to make editorial comments and that tends to be on a structural basis; which has involved sometimes months of re-writes. And you're wise to do it, I think. It should make sense. If it doesn't make sense you can argue your case, but by-and-large you will not get this book exactly as you would like it. And it does help to have a good, sensitive editor make comments on the novel.
Can I edit my own novel?
It is very hard to edit your own work. If you are a member of a writing group you will pick up certain skills .That will help you perhaps use objective judgements on your work but it is practically impossible to make the final editing decisions. Someone else has to do it for you.
What will an editor look for?
Editors and publishing houses tend to pick up on character, voice, description, structure. That's basically the whole lot. But they might make comments about how time is managed in a novel. A novel could be set over twenty four hours or twenty four years, but how that's organized in a novel is crucial. How the information is slowly trickled through. How the exposition is handled. Is it done organically or is it done artificially through dialog. Editors tend to make big decisions when they give you editorial advice.
Should I get a friend or relative to proofread or edit my novel?
I would never get a relative to proofread or edit my work because I think they're likely to be too kind. You need someone quite ruthless. You must expect to be criticized and to take it in the spirit of the thing. Friends are good to read your books if they have some experience in reading and, well principally reading. If they are good readers they are likely to be able to help you. Sometimes their comments can be basic, "I don't like this character" or "I do like this character", but that's sometimes good.
What's the difference between editing and proofreading?
Editing tends to cover all bases, it's structural, and proofreading is line by line editing only.
Should I pay a professional to proofread or edit my novel?
You could pay a professional to proofread your work. There are various companies who provide that service. And it's not a bad idea if you feel that you need someone to look at your work before it goes into a publisher or an agent.