The literary scene (and the whole writing world, for that matter) is now into some exciting new times. Where writers had always been on their own, editors moved out from stuffy publishing houses and schools, and re-invented themselves and their work by offering free-lance editorial services.
These editorial service companies are already recognized as innovative alternatives in the literary world. For one, they are doing a great service to free-lance writers who want to polish their work before being presented to actual publishers.
Reviews on the work of these editorial services groups had been very positive at best. Their works were cited as excellent from top companies. Now, editors from book and magazine publishing companies are assured of better quality of publishable materials in terms of polish, absence of errors and professional qualities.
All these are results from good, old-fashioned excellent editing.
What is editing? Is it an art in itself, just like writing? What makes a good editor?
Writing schools have branded editing as spelling, capitalization, punctuation, sentence structure, grammar, subject/verb agreement, consistent verb tense, and word usage among others.
In addition, the methods of editing are self-editing, reading your own work backwards, reading the last sentence, then the second last sentence and so on, and asking questions like 'does this sentence makes sense?' and 'are there errors here that can be seen or heard?'
There are various tips from experienced editors regarding editing, most of which are the good old language lessons at school.
The most important of them is making sure every sentence has its two parts – subject (who or what) and predicate (what's happening). Some tips are reminders on the use of combining words – and, but, or, yet, so, who, whom, which, that, whose, because, although, when, if, where, and others like using periods and not overusing commas and exclamation points.
It also advised to use the dictionary to check spellings and not the computer's spell checker.
Cut, don't add. Almost all of us are always too wordy. While there might be need to add some words in editing, removing words is better. Concise writing has more power.
Kill adverbs when you see them. Some are fine but most often they only pad a sentence that doesn't need them.
The sentence 'He ran quickly' makes one wonder if running is not quick enough. The reader would know. 'He ran slowly' could pass muster. There is now a qualifier different from the usual nature of running.
Writing teachers have always emphasized that there is no good writing, only good re-writing.
The problem is that good editing is not taught at all in schools. Or, if it is, they are tucked away into some other writing subjects and are simply skimmed over. This makes for an uneasy feeling when one remembers that editing is where the real work of writing is really at.
Good editing, like writing, is in itself an art. It takes years of practice to develop the editing talent. Today, there is a proliferation of these new artists in free lance editorial services companies. Finally, they are rediscovered.