Many Styles of Editing

Updated on September 16, 2016
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Many writers do not realize that every editor has their own unique style of editing. Each one starts off differently and focuses on something that other editors do not. You need to keep this in mind as you look for and work with an editor. They are not all the same, and you have to find the right one for your needs.

Understanding Editing

Let's start off understanding exactly what editing is. It is not fixing a few commas or spelling mistakes. It's amazing how many authors think that is all the process is. Editing is much more complex.

Editing is taking a manuscript and polishing it up. An author has looked at their work for weeks, months, or even years. They know what they wanted to say, but usually the author is blind to many of the errors or issues. That is true for every author. It takes an editor to see what the author cannot see. That can include missing information or scenes as well as inconsistencies. Editing reveals plot problems and even character development issues. It could rearrange a story, expand it, or even eliminate sections.

Editing is a laborious process and vital to producing quality work.

The Editor

The editing process over all is pretty much the same with variances given to the genre and the author. The biggest factor that can change how editing happens is the editor himself (or herself).

Every editor is a unique person which means their editing can be unique. While two different editors can get the same job done, their methods can be different. That is why an author might not get along with one editor but flourish with another one.

When you get an editor, what is your reason? Are you looking for in depth editing or something more like sentence structure and word usage? You need the right editor for you and your needs.

So, let's explore the different kinds of editors out there and how they will impact your work.

The Tweaker

Oh, the tweaker. This editor is one who just goes over a manuscript and points out areas to tweak it. They never suggest major changes and tend to be more of a proofreader than an editor. Their edits come fast and are minimal in number. Issues have to be glaring and minor.

If you are needing your manuscript edited, this might not be the kind of editor you need. If you are just needing someone to look over your book after extensive editing has been done just to see of any minor issues are caught, then they will work.

The Suggestor

This editor is one that will go through the manuscript and make detailed suggestions. They’ll suggest different ways to reword sentences or other words to use in place of one that is used over and over. They will make numerous suggestions for the author to consider. Usually it will take time for them to go through the manuscript and note all the suggestions they have.

This is a great editor to have as you might be lost with comments that say more detailed is needed in a scene. If you are at a loss of ideas, this editor can help you overcome that hurdle and continue writing.

The Noter

This editor will be one to point out where a sentence needs to be reworded but will rarely if ever make a suggestion. They are pointing out where issues lie from grammar to content and let the author work on fixing it. If asked for direction, they give it, but they tend to want the author to explore the options and come up with their own solutions. This is one that will take a while in editing but not near as long as a Suggestor editor will.

This can be a great editor to have as well. The suggestor at times tends to spoon-feed the author. The noter pushes the author to come up with her own solutions and open up creative channels that were closed off before.


The Grammar Nazi

This editor is one that looks more for grammar issues then content, flow, or even sentence structure. They will obsess over grammar rules and will even argue the ones that are officially debatable. They will not care what your style is or what you are trying to convey. Rules are what must be followed.

This style of editing is more beneficial after the content and storyline have been edited. With this type of editor, be prepared with any arguments you might have. If you are passionate about the Oxford comma topic, you better have a good argument is you go against the standard rule.

The Content Specialist

This editor is one that prefers to focus on the storyline and scenes. This is probably one of the meatiest of editors as they look at the big picture first and then move in on more detail such as grammar and sentence structure. Some editors start off with content and then become more detailed in their edit.

This should be the first type of editor that gets into your manuscript. The big picture needs to be fixed before the details are fine-tuned.

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The Rounder

This editor will go over a scene/chapter multiple times before they deem it ready for proofreading and formatting. They will usually start off at a high level and move in to the details, or they just like to go over scenes finding things they missed. They won't let it go until they are completely satisfied.

This type of editing is great to learn what needs to be done. An author can learn how to fix one scene and then continue on in the book to fix the rest on their own. It's a great learning experience.

The Mix It Upper

This editor does a mixture of all the other styles in their own way. They might start off just looking at overall content and storyline before proceeding to individual scenes and chapters. They might do multiple rounds or just a couple. They might go nuts with grammar throughout the editing process or just wait until they get the content edited.

This is a very common type of editing you'll find. It gets the best of all worlds.

Pick Your Editor

Editing is as unique as the editors themselves. The key is to find what style suits you. Pick the editor that works best for you.

If you are an editor, find your style and let the authors know which category you fit in. That will help them decide if you are the right editor for them or not.

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