The 5 Skills You Need to Be a Successful Video Editor
How to Be a Good Editor
Editing is an essential function to produce quality writing. Whether working with a newspaper article, feature magazine article, novel, or other type of writing, a good editor will spend time with a manuscript, helping the author craft the best possible work. As the editor accumulates more years of experience working with a variety of clients, she will learn how to work with authors with a professional approach. The editor corrects errors large and small, and provides feedback in a tactful and constructive way.
Working With Your Author
Work independently.Editing can be a lonely job. You spend a lot of time with a manuscript, especially if it’s a lengthy book, and being able to work independently is a valuable skill. Your author shouldn’t give you direction on how to complete the editing. In fact, the author is expecting the opposite: he is expecting you to give him direction on how to improve the writing.
Be clear on the type of editing you should do.A good editor will have a conversation with the author to make sure she is completing the editing that the author is looking for. For example, your author may be looking for quick copyediting, but if you are rewriting large sections of the work and suggesting entirely new directions for the writing, you’re not on the same page. Some different types of editing include:
- Developmental editing: This type of editor works with the author to develop ideas or to shape a manuscript into a publishable work.
- Line editing: This form of editing looks at language, creative content and style of writing. The line editor will not look for errors. Instead, the editor examines how the writer communicates with the reader.
- Copyediting: Copyediting involves correcting errors, looks for inconsistencies, and prepares a style sheet. Copyediting can be light, medium, or heavy, depending on how much work needs to be done on the manuscript. Most of the editing is cleanup work, although heavier copyediting may involve more substantial rewrites.
Put the work first.The manuscript is the most important part of the author-editor relationship. Being a good editor means that you will suppress your ego in favor of the manuscript. You don’t need to assert your authority over details and finely crafted sentences.
Communicate with your author.Once you’ve edited a manuscript, return the manuscript to the author and then talk in person or over the phone with her. Give her your overall thoughts and impressions, and then spend time going through the full manuscript to explain your edits.
- Give your author a chance to respond to your edits. Listen carefully to how she explains herself. This will give you a better sense of what she’s trying to accomplish in the manuscript.
Check spelling.Make sure every word is spelled correctly. Don’t simply rely on spell-check to catch mistakes. Once you’re a good editor, most misspellings will jump out at you and you’ll be able to catch them more easily. Work at improving your spelling.
- If you are editing a manuscript for British English, you’ll use different spellings than in American English. Differentiate between “colour” and “color,” for example, or “centre” versus “center.” Use consistent spelling throughout the manuscript.
- If someone is mentioned in the text, verify the spelling of this person’s name.
Check grammar.If you are copyediting a manuscript, be sure to pay special attention to the grammar. Balance your corrections with a respectful sense of collaboration. Suppress any inclination to act like the grammar police. You are helping the author improve his manuscript. You are not there to give him a grammar lesson or to teach him never to make a certain mistake again.
Look for inconsistencies.As you read the writing, look for passages or instances where the information doesn’t match up. For example, you might read that a character’s hair is blond, but two chapters later, the character’s hair is black. Your job as editor is to catch these inconsistencies before the reader does.
Question facts and other information.If the manuscript has facts that seem off, raise the question to the author. If there’s an obvious error that you know how to correct, you might be able to do that on your own. But if there are other errors that are specific to the subject at hand and you’re not sure, flag them for the author and allow him to verify.
- If the manuscript is particularly sensitive, such as an investigative reporting piece on a controversial topic, you should definitely verify that the facts are correct. Work with the reporter to ensure accuracy.
Be brutally honest.In order to make the best possible manuscript, you need to be very honest with the author. Don’t coddle the author. Tell him what you really think about the manuscript. The point is to help the author make the best work possible. If you are not honest with critiquing the work, then you are shortchanging the author and the readers.
Give positive feedback.Even when you need to be brutally honest, a good editor will still give positive feedback. Tell the author what you love about his work. This will also work to soften the blow when you give feedback about things that need to be changed.
Be professional.Authors tend to be very connected personally with their works. It’s your job as an editor to maintain professionalism so that the author knows you’re not attacking him when you give feedback.
- For example, if you think the author runs on and on, you can tactfully comment on this. Don’t respond with a comment like, “Just shut up already!” Instead, write, “It’s time to move on to a new subject.”
Be supportive.Your author is trusting you with helping to shape her work into something that represents her creative voice. Be supportive of what your author is trying to accomplish. And then it’s your job to bring that work to a publishable state.
- If you get a work that is particularly rough, encourage the author by saying, “This is a good start. Let’s work with what you’ve given to expand it.”
Make sure the author’s voice shines through.Your job as editor is not to leave your imprint on the work. You are a behind-the-scenes contributor. The author makes particular choices about how she writes, the words she uses, and the rhythm of the sentences. Your job is to make sure the author communicates effectively with the reader. Don’t apply your own preferences to the work.
- For example, you may detest certain words and try to avoid using them. But if your author is using one of these words, it should stay in the text. Your author chose it for a reason.
Be able to explain and defend your changes.A good editor will know exactly why a change or edit needs to be made. She will be able to explain in detail why the edit improves the text.
- Don’t hem and haw over your reasons for making certain edits. Be assertive with your author.
Send proofs to the author.When the manuscript is completed and the editing is finalized, send the manuscript back to the author. Then the author can review your changes to make sure her writing still says what she wants it to say.
- Some authors and editors do not see eye to eye. The working relationship just isn’t compatible. A good editor will recognize when you have too many conflicting approaches. In this case, you should suggest that the author work with a different editor.
Video: How To Edit Videos Like a PRO!
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