Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Two Benefits of Editing

There are many reasons to edit a book and many benefits result from the editing process. But, speaking from an author's perspective, here are two benefits that stand out to me.

First, an editor's critical eye helps the author clarify and simplify his train of thought. This is where (again, from my perspective) Kevin has helped me the most. He has discovered places where I dropped a train of thought, raised expectations for the reader that I failed to fulfill, made a leap in logic, or was too subtle or fuzzy or foggy to be understood. And he's helped me cut out cumbersome passages that do not advance the argument of the book. As a result, the manuscript is now both shorter (!), but also leaner, more streamlined.

Second, the editing process has helped me refine my writing style. This is the benefit of multiple rewrites (some of the chapters have been through three or four revisions!). Of course, the primary goal in the revision has been to clarify and simplify, but the net effect has also been an improvement in style. At this point in writing I know almost all of what I want to say. The content is there. Revising the text has thus provided an opportunity to not only work on clarity, but also look closely at how I'm saying what I want to say.

Editing a book is like simultaneously doing structural remodels in a house and changing the color scheme and decor. Removing a wall here and there and adding some windows for better light cause the house feel more spacious. Putting on a fresh coat of paint and ridding the place of dated art make the house feel more classy.

In both ways - and I'm sure in others, as well - the manuscript is taking on a much better shape.


Geri Greene January 12, 2010 at 9:48 PM  

As a ghost writer and editor, I am interested in following your progress and processes to the final publication. Intriguing!

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