I’ve never met anyone who could self-edit with complete success. Yes, some writers are better than others. And, with time, we can all improve our self-editing skills, but we will never catch every error in our own work.
We need others to edit for us – but not just anyone. Your aunt who’s good at English doesn’t count or your friend who likes to read. These folks might serve well as first-readers but not for a final edit.
Also, there are different types of edits – and we need them all. Depending on who you ask, there are at least three; they go by different names. One type looks at the big picture, addressing the overall concept and construction of the work. Another focuses on the book’s flow, from one chapter to the next, one scene to the next, and one sentence to the next. A third type fine-tunes the piece, considering grammar, word choice, typos, and punctuation. And there may be other types of edits, too.
Although we can trade editing services with other writers or perhaps even find someone who is qualified and willing to do it for free, we usually need to pay for editing at each level. This isn’t cheap, but if we want our work to shine – and not pile up critical reviews – we need quality editing.
What types of errors do you usually catch in your own work? Which ones do you tend to overlook?
Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!