It’s funny that only after finishing the eighth draft (depending on how you count drafts) of my novel, I’ve really start to think about the differences between revision and editing. I knew writing a good story was more than just having a good idea, but still the two processes seemed jumbled in my mind. I think if I’d remembered the writing process flow charts from my middle school days, the drafting process of the last three years would have gone a bit smoother for me.
In many of those flow charts revision is defined as making your writing sound better and editing is defined as making it look better. But I think the concepts go beyond that.
For me, revision is about content. It is about the organization of chapters, changes in plot, character development, foreshadowing, pacing, enhancing the setting, and correcting and POV issues. It’s about looking at a draft and saying what works, what doesn’t work, and what could work better, then actively rewriting scenes.
Editing is about more than just making the writing sound good and look good. It’s about making it believable. For me editing means, better explaining anything confusing, cutting any unnecessary words, sentences, scenes, etc., amping up the voice, word choice, looking for repetition, and making sentences as active as possible. The next part of editing, is proofreading. But checking for spelling errors, grammar issues, and typos is not the whole process.
In my drafts, I think I was doing too much of both processes at the same time. For example, I did a lot of editing and proofreading on my very first draft only to go on to decide that there were huge substantive problems that needed changing. I guess it isn’t only a writing process, but a learning process.
This post probably needs both revision and editing, but I’m starving for breakfast so it’s going to have to suffice. Writers and bloggers, how do you think of editing and revision? Are they the same for you or different? Do you have any tips for me?