Does an editor need an editor when they write?
To quote Stephen King, does a bear go cockadoodie in the woods?
Most of us use editing tools. That’s to catch your mistakes. What about our own writing? Writing is one of those endeavors where “Physician, heal thyself” doesn’t really work.
Editors use their eyeballs as much as they use whatever tools they have on hand. Yet that’s how most writers revise. When it’s your work, you’re going to miss a lot of erros.
A LOT of them.
I recently stared doing line edits on my Amargosa trilogy and a couple of related novellas. I plan to rerelease them late fall. Consistency is one reason. However, as I started going through The Children of Amargosa…
I credit Stacy Robinson for editing this novel. Stacy, however, did a developmental edit, not a line edit.
“Well, what’s the difference? Editing is editing. Right?”
Proofreading is not line editing or copy editing. It’s a quick grammar check and not much else. If you’re at the proofreading stage, and your editor is spasming over adverbs, you may have chosen poorly. By the time you’ve hit the proofreading stage, you should already have your prose tightened up. You’re just checking for spelling and grammar errors. Adverbs are NOT grammar errors; they’re merely disliked.
A copy edit goes deeper, purges passive voice, cleans up hard-to-read sentences, and suggests shorter ways to say things. Line edits go deeper. A line edit looks for consistency and ensures you sound like you. It also makes sure that Ken on page 30 is not Barbie on page 147. Barring, of course, a plot point to explain it.
Line and copy edits overlap. Many use the terms interchangeably. Some, like your humble narrator, call them line/copy edits. They also overlap proofreads. Developmental editing?
I would posit a developmental edit introduces more prose errors than deletes them. It’s not a stylistic edit. It’s structural. Dev editors will move scenes, question motivation, cut whole chapters. I know several, including Stacy, who are very good at this. Another is Keystroke Medium’s Kalene Williams. They want to know the whys and wherefores of your plot, your characters, even your settings. Because you’re moving, adding, and deleting scenes, you have lots of opportunity to say “your” when “you’re” is called for. Once you finish a dev edit, at the very least, get a proofread.
So, does that mean editors who write need editors?
Boy, howdy. You hire an editor because you’re too close to the work. It’s like being nose blind to your cat’s litterbox. You don’t smell it until it needs changed. Your guests sniff once and say, “Oh, you have a cat!”
We’re human. We miss things, too. When the Bible says take the log out of eye before you pick the speck from your neighbors, Jesus did not mean editors. The log is forever in our eyes. Other people’s specks are easier to spot. Why?
We didn’t write it.