Many people think of editing as correcting spelling and grammar, but these tasks barely scrape the surface of what editing encompasses.
Over my next three posts, I will outline the main types of editing. Today, let me tell you about content editing.
Content editing—also referred to as structural editing—is the first stage of editing your work should undergo. This is when an editor works closest with an author to improve the overall content and structure of a piece of writing. An easy way to work out what happens at this stage is to consider the name; this level of editing focuses on the content and the structure of the writing.
Put simply, the aim is to strengthen arguments, develop the style and voice, and make sure the work flows logically. For creative pieces, this includes improving characterisation, writing dialogue, and checking for plotholes. For technical writing, it includes keeping the tone professional.
An editor provides constructive feedback to help guide the author in making changes. This process often includes rewriting and rearranging, adding to the manuscript, and removing unnecessary sections.
An editor will also be on the lookout for potential ethical and legal issues at this early stage. If any red flags pop up, an editor will help the author navigate the problem.
The focus on major changes during this stage is crucial. Correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation is secondary until content/structural editing is over; they will be covered in the next stage.