Ah, at last. A writing-based topic I haven’t at least mentioned a good bit.
Editing. AKA, what I hope to be doing once I officially graduate from college, along with freelance writing, in the hopes I myself get published.
Editing takes writing on in a bigger way. Before I started college, before I took certain, specific classes, I thought all editors were the same: They work at big-name publishing companies, editing and proofreading hopeful authors’ works, or behind a desk at the New York Times, scanning line after line, picking out and correcting typos and grammatical errors the way one would pick out and toss tinsel from a Christmas tree, after the season’s over.
Yes, that is ONE kind of editor. However, that is not the ONLY kind, and that is NOT all they do.
In fact, that is only the description of what the professional industry refers to as a “line editor” or “copy editor”– proofreading, correcting, catching boo-boos before a disgruntled reader does. Design editors work on arranging the material on the page of a newspaper or book cover in a way that is presentable. A certain kind of editor is used to read the material, rather than actually edit it, and write down any suggestions or ideas they have for the author’s CONTENT (the actual story, that it makes sense, etc.), rather than spelling and grammatical corrections. Chief editors oversee the whole shebang; while editing and touching up the final project, they also handle complaints from readers, hold the team together, etc.
(Me? I wouldn’t mind being either a line editor OR a content editor. I think that would be fabulous. Heck, I might even like being a chief editor, or even just an editor-in-chief. We’ll see where God takes me!)
But the more I read up on the art of editing for my one class, Publishing, and the more I learning from my Tutoring Writing class, I realized that that isn’t even the average editor’s job. They look it over, yes, but they don’t just edit-edit. Their goal is to help authors, and to help develop BETTER writers, not just better manuscripts and better books. You see, the whole idea behind that mindset is, if you help an author become better THEMSELVES, then in turn their writing, their books will naturally become better. Brilliant, eh? Help them help themselves. I love that notion.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Some of you, actually probably a LOT of you, are probably looking at me like I just grew a second head and deer horns to boot. “WHAT editor?” you may say. “You act like I just have a professional editor to look over my stuff at my fingertips! I just write!” Fair enough. But in that case, you need to be your own editor, or start letting other people (preferably people you’re close to and who have a good sense of story, grammar, and spelling) read your stuff, and ask for their ideas, edits, suggestions, and overall feedback. The former can give you great practice if you’re like me, in training to be an editor/author. (Reading your works out loud, just to yourself, can also really help you. I’ve been in numerous instances in tutoring people where all I have to do is basically tell them to read it aloud to me, and they catch a LOT of snags they wouldn’t have otherwise!) The latter can give you a great sense of where you are story-wise, plot-wise, etc. So in short, both can be beneficial. If you want to learn how to write great, you must also learn to edit well– unless, of course, you are authoring something like messy poetry. 😉