Friday, April 28, 2017

X-Ray Vision for Editing

Once we finish polishing the final draft of the novel, the next process is submitting it to an editor for in-depth editing.  This is the final and most important step in the creation of the novel.
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The editor we employ needs to understand what we want to convey through our book.
I have read books where the editing was pathetic.

Recently, I beta-read a book after its final draft and found it wonderful. When the book got published, it had lost all its magic. During the editing process, in order to conform to their word count limits, the editor had cut out many scenes which were crucial to the story and gave depth to the characters. I felt so bad for the writer.

Another book I beta-read and gave feedback as having many excesses came out like a shining gem after being edited by a brilliant editor.

This kind of X-ray vision is what we seek in an editor. The ability to step into the shoes of the writer and reader simultaneously to understand both the perspectives. The editor needs to use his/her X-ray vision to study the following details.
  1. What does the writer want to convey in the various scenes? 
  2. Will the reader understand what the writer wants to convey?
  3.  Is the scene necessary?
  4.  Is the writing concise and apt?
  5. Is the prose grammatically correct?
  6. Are there plot holes?
  7. Are all the threads closed at the end of the book?
  8. Are the characters three dimensional?
  9. Is the showing and telling balanced?
  10. Is the word count appropriate for the genre?

Editing is categorized into developmental editing, line editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Usually, in a publishing firm, different editors are in charge of each of these tasks.

Developmental editing looks at the big picture and analyses the entire story for inconsistencies in the story arc, character arc, plot holes etc.

Line editing is the editing at a paragraph level where each paragraph is given attention to and scrutinized.

Copyediting looks after the grammar, usage and consistency issues.

Proofreading addresses how things look on the page. Typos, repeated words etc are weeded out.

Kill your darlings is the favorite phrase of the editors. But the writer should have faith in his/her story and the final word should always be theirs. The darlings need not always die.

We should not allow any editor to mutilate our creations. If they enhance our writing with good editing, well and good. But if they strip down the essentials, it is time to put your foot down.

As the writer of the story, we often have the characters fully developed in our mind. We often know what drives them, their likes and dislikes.

 In order to show them in their true magnificence, we often add scenes which flesh them out on the pages. An editor might think they are not necessary.

 If it so happens, explain why you did it and why the scene is important. If the editor can convince you why it is not needed, then go with it.

Otherwise, stick to your opinion and convince them why it is necessary with valid arguments.

After all, it is your story and you should tell it your way.  

During this A-Z April Challenge, I am exploring the A-Z journey of writing a Novel with examples from Literature.

The Letter of the day is X

Linking this post  to Blogging from A-Z

Have you read the Letters A, B, C, D, EFGH  I  J K  L M N  O P Q R  S T U V and W?


  1. 'The darlings need not die always.'
    Totally agree with you. A writer must speak for her darlings. Grasp what your editor is saying, but you can't allow the editor to kill the essence of your story.

    1. Exactly. The right editors are a blessing to the author.

  2. Good post. There is always tension between the editor (or at least my editor) and the writer.

  3. There are so many complexities to getting the final work out. So much tougher than the actual writing. This post is quite resourceful for aspiring writers.

    1. Yes, indeed. Writing it down doesn't even mean half the work is done. A book requires so much effort and dedication.