Structural editing assesses the manuscript as a whole and checks that the content, structure, language and presentation meet the publication’s purpose and readers’ expectations. At this stage, restructuring and rewording may be carried out to aid accessibility, clarity, style and tone, and to tighten the reader’s focus.
A structural edit might find inconsistencies in characterisation, holes in a plot, errors of logic, structural problems, or the like, so may contain substantial changes. For this reason, please ask your editor to use track changes in Word to you can see what has been edited and whether you agree with those changes or not.
As you can imagine, this may be a lengthy process, particularly if the editor identifies flaws that require you to rewrite sections.
It’s important to understand the boundary between author and editor here: in most instances, it is not the editor’s job to actually do the rewriting. It’s your manuscript, so unless you have agreed that the editor will take a strong writing role, that work comes back to you.
During this process a manuscript may go back and forth several times until all the inconsistencies are ironed out.
More Publishing Tips
THE EDITOR IS NOT THE ENEMY
An editor’s job is to prepare a manuscript for publication and ensure that its style and the level of its language suits the intended readership. A good editor is always careful to retain the author’s voice. They may improve it, but they don’t mutate it.
There are three parts to the editing process. A comprehensive editing service includes all three processes. These are structural editing; copyediting; and proofreading. Over the next few days I will talk about structural editing. Watch this space …
DIALOGUE IS THE DEVIL (Writing tips continued)
Some say the ‘devil is in the detail’. I say, ‘dialogue IS the devil’.
Dialogue needs to flow naturally. When dialogue is working well, you no longer feel that these are unreal characters using words that the author has made up. You feel that these are real people. A great idea to get a true feeling for how people really speak is take a long train ride or sit in a café and do some eavesdropping! Listen to the people around you.
And especially don’t be afraid of using contractions such as ‘I didn’t’ as opposed to ‘I did not’ – or ‘I will be going to the shop to purchase some bread’ instead of ‘I’m going to the shop for some bread’. After all, your characters are real to you and they should also be real people for your readers as well.