I was at a wedding, and it was a beautiful evening. You know the kind, the temperature was warm enough to go without a coat, but there was no danger of embarrassing sweat stains. I wore a Calvin Klein cobalt dress with a silver, floral necklace that I found in a boutique in one of my favorite DC neighborhoods. I was feeling like Beyonce in, well, all of her videos.
Then it happened.
The man walked up to me and asked what I do. I responded that I was an editor, and he gave me the dreaded response: “So you check typos and stuff?”
I always imagine the DJ stopping the music with a loud scratch on the record and everyone staring at the person in horror when I get this response.
Of course, this didn’t happen. I don’t live in a movie. (If anyone knows how to make this happen, give me a holler.)
Instead, I smiled politely and said, “Something like that.” Then I rushed toward the buffet faster than, well, Rory Gilmore would.
Maybe you think editors do the same thing. That’s okay! I won’t run toward the buffet because we are friends (and I just had breakfast). For your benefit (and that random guy’s if he is reading this blog), here are ten ways an editor can help your writing (and, yes, checking for typos make the list).
The Developmental Editing Ways:
1. Reorganize Your Writing
Maybe your third chapter should be your fifth. Or you are not sure if your introduction correctly outlines your book. Or you think maybe your two leads need to fall in love earlier. An editor can help you untangle everything and make sure it is in the right order.
2. Expand Your Book
Your novel is 33,000 words, and you know a full manuscript is at least 50,000 words. An editor can help you figure out which scenes need to be expanded or other ways to develop your character or plot.
3. Remove Unnecessary Information
Have you ever read a scene in a book that felt like it lasted forever (or, if you are a TV fan, this is also known as the seventh season of Buffy)? An editor makes sure that doesn’t happen to your readers. Editors help you cut out unnecessary sentences, paragraphs, and even whole chapters.
Hint: If your book is more than 100,000 words, there are probably some areas that you could cut.
4. Identify Areas that Are Not Clear
Have you read a book and had to reread a paragraph or chapter a few times to finally understand the meaning? A good editor will make sure that doesn’t happen with your book. An editor will point out areas that are not clear and help you brainstorm ways to convey the information in a way that makes sense.
The Copyediting Ways:
5. Identify Unfamiliar Slang/Jargon
Are you trying to make fetch happen? Well, an editor will tell you that it isn’t going to happen. (Hey, it is better than Regina George telling you!) In all seriousness, an editor will help you identify slang or jargon that you reader might not be familiar with. This will prevent you reader from Googling the word and forgetting about your book as she falls down the meme/gif rabbit hole.
6. Help You Find the Best Word
You might think “decimate” is the best word to describe what your hero does to your villain. Your editor will tell you that “destroy” is better because your hero did not kill 10% of your villain (unless if that is what actually happened, then go ahead). Basically, your editor will make sure you are using the best word possible, which, Charlie Brown, is what good writing is all about.
7. Restructure Your Paragraphs/Sentences
Sometimes the first sentence in your paragraph should be the last paragraph. Or maybe your words are a bit jumbled in your sentence. An editor will help you solve the Rubik’s Cube that is your writing.
8. Check for Consistency
Have you ever seen a TV show where the character suddenly goes from a blue dress to a pink one (and I am not talking about Sleeping Beauty). An editor makes sure that doesn’t happen in your writing.
9. Check for Spelling/Grammar
This one is pretty self-explanatory. We make sure the commas are in the right places, and we make sure you don’t misspell words like “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Because we know Mary Poppins is scary when she gets mad.
The Proofreading Ways:
10. Check for typos
Yes, we do that, too.
Are you looking for an editor? I am happy to be yours!