The Difference Between Editing and Revising: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

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Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

Editing and revising your novel are often thought to be the same thing but they are not! Revising is looking at your storytelling and seeing how you can strengthen it. Editing is all about strengthening your story’s prose. I have put together some articles and podcasts that discuss the differences between revising and editing and share some useful tips to tackle both.

  1. What Is The Difference Between Editing & Revising? (and how can you accomplish both? ) — Well-Storied.

The revision process should happen first, as there’s not much use in worrying over sentence structure or grammar when you may end up deleting an entire scene. Well-Storied share some elements that you should consider when revising your novel. These are plot holes, story structure, purpose, character arcs, exposition, pacing, foreshadowing, and accuracy and continuity. When it comes to editing, there are two common types: line-edits and copy-edits. Well Storied define line edits as tweaking the prose for clarity and style, and copy edits focus on improving the accuracy and readability of the prose. The elements to consider when editing are the sentence structure, point-of-view and voice, description, clarity, and proofreading.

  1. The Difference Between Editing and Revising — Good Story Company

This article from Good Story Company says that revision is the zoomed-out view of your story, while editing tackles the finer details. The first thing you should do before revising your novel is take a step back. Put it aside for a few weeks, a month even. This allows you to view it with fresh eyes. One important difference between editing and revising is that while editing polishes what’s there, revising questions everything on the page. This article shares questions to ask yourself when tackling both the revising stage and the editing. When it comes to revising, ask yourself, Does the plot have a beginning, a middle, and an end? Does it hit other plot beats? Do the characters have emotional arcs? Does the ending match the promises made in the first chapters? Are there places where the pacing drags? These are only a selection of the questions provided in this article. Many novels need several levels of revision before they are ready to move into the editing phase.

Once those big-picture problems have been addressed then you can move on to editing. Questions to think about include, does each character have a distinct voice? are the paragraphs and sentences varied in length and style? Does the style match the moment in the story? Are there too many dialogue tags?

  1. Revising vs. Editing: What’s the Difference? (dabblewriter.com)

Dabble writer discusses the differences between revising and editing, how to revise effectively, and what good editing looks like. Revising is making changes to the story, while editing is improving or fixing the story. It’s not about fixing your story or looking for typos. Breaking it down into three sections to look at, questions to ask yourself are provided. The three sections are the big picture changes, characters, setting and plot, and improving the words. When it comes to editing focus on word choice, important details, style, and the technical stuff. Again, questions to consider are suggested for each stage.

  1. What is the Difference Between Revising and Editing? – ThinkWritten

When editing your work, you will be looking at spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Your overall story remains the same. This article recommends using a professional editor. The revision process is changing the meaning or way in which the reader perceives, experiences, and interprets it. You are revising it to make your story stronger and improve clarity for your readers. You can do this by adding new thoughts, clarifying existing thoughts, choosing more descriptive words, enhancing character development, and eliminating unnecessary elements. Think of revising as adding special effects to photos- it is something that provides clarity and enhances your writing.

  1. Fiction University: The Difference Between Editing and Revising a Novel (janicehardy.com)

This article takes a look at the difference between editing and revising. Editing is the line-by-line tweaking that polishes your text, and revision is more macro level – changing parts of the story. You must revise your story before you edit. Take a step back at look at your overall story – consider story and structure, plot and stakes, characters and point of view, before moving onto pacing, scenes, conflicts and goals, transitions, character growth, and story arcs. After this, you are ready to start the detail work and edit. You can break editing down into dialogue, descriptions, word choice and usage, and rhythm and flow. For both. the revision and editing, questions to consider are shared.

Podcasts
  1. The Well-Storied Podcast — Well-Storied.

What’s the difference between editing and revising is discussed in this podcast episode from Well Storied.

  1. Fiction Writing Made Easy: The 4 Phases of Editing: How to Revise Your Novel on Apple Podcasts

In this episode from Fiction Made Easy, they talk about how to edit your messy first draft without getting overwhelmed.

  1. 04: Revision, with Patrick Rothfuss – Writing Excuses (podcast) | Listen Notes

This episode begins their discussion of revision by addressing a question we hear a lot: How do you know what needs to be changed? They talk about our various techniques for getting distance from our work, incorporating feedback, and breaking the process down into manageable chunks.

  1. Writing Tips: How To Self-Edit Your Novel With Kris Spisak | The Creative Penn

Kris Spisak talks about the different kinds of editing, as well as tips for your self-editing process.

The difference between editing and revising is sometimes blurred but they are both equally important. Don’t try to do both together in one step. Break down the stages of revising and editing using the great advice in these articles and podcasts. Don’t let these stages overwhelm you. Make a list and a plan for moving forward with your novel. I hope you have found this week’s column useful. As always, if you have any topics you would like me to cover, please get in touch.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel, The Lies Beneath – to be published by Poolbeg in 2023.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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