February 20th, 2021

Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Thoughts on Writing 21

#AmWriting #IndieAuthor #WritingCommunity

Nothing to do with the post, but I believe this is the first picture I took of Coco after he came to live with us in the fall of 2017.

When I was last here talking about writing and in specific, editing, I mentioned that we would look at the levels or degrees of editing.

I think the most extreme form of editing may be something we don't think of as editing.  That would be ghost writing,which we often see in books or other works by celebrities.  Often these folks have a story to tell, a "tell all" perhaps, but they don't have the time or perhaps the ability to actually write it.  They provide the information, the data, the facts to a largely anonymous individual who actually writes the story.  When the book is published, the celebrity is listed as the author and no doubt collects a royalty from sails.  But the actual author is also paid, even though he or she is never named as the writer.   And I'd wager, that when we see books by a celebrity or famous individual, as told to... or so and so's story with.....  The second named person is likely to be the one who actually wrote the book.  That writer has in fact edited the book suggested by the notes, conversations, exchanges of information with the celebrity author.  And of course the actual writer has been paid for their efforts, and I understand that a number of writers make a fairly decent living as ghost writers.  They just don't get their names splashed all over the cover or in the media.

There are those that object to this sort of ghost writing, but I see nothing wrong with it.  I would, however, object to the supposed practice of fairly well-known and established authors having someone else do the work on their books and then taking full credit for them, if such practice does in fact exist.  If an established writer has a helper or collaborator, that individual should receive credit as co-author.

Anyway, the ghost writer in the first instance bascially does an extreme version of developmental or substance editing.  In a more normal situation, that would mean looking at the overall work to make sure the story makes sense, that it flows and is easy for the reader to understand and follow.  It's also a look to see if there are any plot holes or inconsistencies in the story.  Suggested fixes might include shifting scenes or chapters, adding scenes or chapters, or taking out parts that don't work.  Not every author will need to have editing at this level, depending upon ability and how much help early readers were.

Assuming the basic story is solid, we then come to content editing.  This looks at the actual prose. Does it flow?  Does it have a rhythm that allows it to read easily?  Does the writer vary sentence structure to keep it interesting?  Content editing might also include an overall look at grammar, punctuation, and formatting.  Formatting in this sense referring to things such as whether or not to spell out or use numerals, etc.  How much content editing a work needs will of course depend on the writer.  Some efforts might require a great deal of it and others very little.

That brings us to line editing, which in my opinion is what most of us think of as editing.  It's a look for typos, misspelled words, incorrect or missing, punctuation, the wrong word, or repeated words.

Please note, there is no definite dividing lines between the different levels of editing.  Someone doing a line edit on a manuscript may find now and then that they end up doing a bit of content editing, and vice versa. Also note, these are the levels, types, or degrees of editing as I understand them.  They may not fit with the descriptions or definitions provided by others.

There are a couple other types of editing and we'll talk about them next time.