Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.

Patricia Fuller

There are three stages to editing and it is important that they’re undertaken in the correct order or much time and money can be wasted.

Structural Editing/ Manuscript Assessment: this is sometimes also called Substantive Editing and involves looking at how the work holds together and how each part contributes to the whole. A structural editor will look at length, structure, flow, plot, characterisation, exposition, dialogue, point of view, themes, voice and setting.

Whether you intend to seek a publisher or go straight into self-publishing, it’s important to commission a structural edit/ manuscript assessment as, in my experience, it is impossible to gain enough distance from your own work to identify what problems may still need addressing.

Copy Editing: this is sometimes also called Content Editing and is a line-by-line edit that eliminates errors relating to grammar, spelling, facts, timelines, continuity of plot etc. It may also involve some restructuring, cutting and/or writing of additional material.

Proof Reading: this is the final stage of editing that occurs just before going to print. It consists of a final check for spelling and punctuation as well as consistency of presentation.

If you have a publishing contract then you’ll be taken through the copy editing and proof reading stages by your editor in the publishing company. If you intend to self- publish and want to ensure that your work is of a high standard then it’s a good idea to commission a copy edit and a final proof read before making your work public.

I have over twenty years experience as an editor and manuscript assessor, working on a range of genres in both fiction and non-fiction. If you feel that you’re at a stage where your work needs a fresh eye and some constructive criticism, do get in touch so that we can discuss your needs.