Approaching an unedited manuscript is a bit like looking under the bonnet of a beaut vintage car. We know all the parts needed to keep the car moving, so we pull apart the engine, work out what’s worth keeping, what can be repaired or fine-tuned, and what kind of parts we need to order in to get the motor roaring…
It’s a familiar adage, when a writer gingerly hands a manuscript to an Editor that ‘the baby’ the Writer has lavished so much love and attention to, is invariably returned by the Editor, unrecognisable. Resist the urge to call the police and insist that you’re a victim of a baby swap. If you gave your manuscript to a great Editor, chances are, they just souped up your Jalopy into a Jaguar.
If you’re thinking about engaging an Editor to give your proposal to borrow half a billion pesos a professional polish, or you have a manuscript that’s due for a 100,000 word service, here’s a few things to look out for when hiring your new best mate –
Lazy Editors will only edit grammar / punctuation / syntax / spelling and format the document to convention. Period.
Great Editors take the time to understand who you are. They will ask lots of questions about what you want to achieve, what you want your audience to do, or feel, or say or think when they finish reading your masterpiece before they even look at the manuscript. Context is so important to orientate the reader – and this is no different for an Editor. Understanding what the Writer is hoping to achieve will help guide the editing process to ensure the integrity of the writer’s voice, and purpose, is not left on the cutting room floor.
After an Editor has assessed a manuscript, Great Editors will sit down with the Writer, and go through a formal Manuscript Review and Recommendations. This will involve qualifying all recommended changes, inclusions and exclusions. Keeping the Writer involved in the process, by giving them the courtesy of ‘permitting’ major structural changes first, will help Writers feel more ownership of the editing process, which leads to greater acceptance of change.
Great Editors will also critically engage with your work to ensure continuity, unnecessary repetition, logical sequencing / grouping of content, and will know when content requires further development or substantiation.
Editing is a collaboration, because ultimately, the Writer is usually the subject matter expert. This means giving the Writer opportunity to review and comment on changes. Great Editors never sit in isolation but work with the Writer to produce the best outcome.
Ultimately, a Great Editor knows that their job is to make the Writer look awesome. Period.
Till next time!