I freely admit that I could wish that I had more education and experience in life. Both would make writing and editing easier. Turns of phrase, vocabulary, and correct literary “style” do not come easily to me. Nonetheless, I write and I edit to the best of my ability. And yes, some of my mistakes go uncorrected as much out of stubborn adherence to my own way of thinking and doing as out of simple lack of education in the literary arts.
The editing process is long and arduous. Longer, most often, than the writing of the first draft of the story.
Consistency of the plot must be checked. (It’s amazing how easy it is to overlook a mistake in the timeline, confusion as to which character is speaking, an action that could not take place in the circumstances as written to that point.)
Flow of the story overall must work, including the requisite escalation of challenges for the main character(s). This part of the editing process may involve adding a scene, or (more often) subtracting scenes that serve no useful purpose.
Adequate description may have to be added to orient the reader to the time and place and ambiance that the writer carries mentally and may forget to actually put to paper (or the digital equivalent). Doing this in a way that does not seem forced and artificial, in a way that does not interrupt the flow, is by no means easy.
Sentence and paragraph structure also need to be examined: variations in sentence length and order, action verbs, mood-enhancing adjectives and adverbs (but not too many), paragraphs also varied in length, chapter breaks.
And, of course, spelling and grammar and punctuation checks―which are not necessarily aided by the computer’s review functions.
Formatting is also important: Ensuring the book actually looks the way we expect books to look: chapter headings and breaks, fonts, pagination, table of contents, etc. all need to be checked not only for accuracy but for style (which may or may not be aided by software).
And then, there is the “beta process”: asking someone else to read your book to find all you missed. Then, going through all of the above again after making some or all suggested changes.
Small wonder it takes so long to get a book published!
Have you ever edited a book? Have you been someone’s beta reader?
[Thanks to OpenClipart-Vectors of Pixabay for the featured image.]