The website of the historical fiction writer.

The Festival of Writing 2013 Part Six: Editing for Writers

This workshop was led by Andrew Wille who is a Book Doctor and a teacher of Creative Writing (

Now, editing is not my favourite part of writing by any means. I know the story and I’ve got it out of my head and onto the page. I’ve done it now and I want to do something else. I’m sure I’m not the first writer to say that but the fact is editing is one of the most important parts when writing a piece of work. Andrew quite rightly said that the first draft is ‘when the author tells him/herself the story’. Not the reader. There will be various mistakes, poor use of grammar, punctuation, etc and this will be noticed by readers who have parted with their hard-earned to be entertained by your work.

There are various stages in the editing process. Most publishing houses have people that do each of the tasks. The first is structural editing which looks at the structure and consistency of the story, characters and chapters.

Next comes copy editing that looks through each and every line to see that everything works. This includes style, spelling, grammar, etc. As this is a very fine job it is very easy to miss things and these can sometimes be found in printed books that have gone all the way through the publishing process and ended up on the shelves of your local bookshop.

Then there is typesetting that deals with formatting. All the pages are arranged, the lines are spaced out and the fonts chosen. After this the proof copy is printed.

Then it’s time for proofreading. The proof copy is checked and this is the last stage of quality control. The book is all done and goes off to the next stage in the publishing machine!

Andrew also gave other tips that included printing out work, two pages on one piece of paper, landscape. Not only is it good for the environment but it also makes your work look like a book! He also distributed a handout which will be very handy when I next edit some work!

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