Revision vs Editing

To continue along in the writing process, Squiders, today will talk about revising and editing.

Now, you should always revise before you edit. Why? Well, first, let’s discuss what the difference is.

Revising has to do with content. When you revise something, you cut things, add things, move things around. You look at what you have versus what you wanted, and you change important things–character arcs, plot points, story structure.

Editing has to do with appearance. When you edit, you fix typoes, grammar, and punctuation. You make sure Bob has the same hair color on page 5 as he does on page 134. You make sure, if you decided to capitalize something, that you capitalize it throughout, and that you use the same type of dash throughout the whole thing.

You need to revise before you edit, because if your core is no good, who cares how pretty it is? I know this can be hard to do, though. It’s much easier to read through, fixing grammar and occasionally rewriting small points to clarify things. It feels productive. But if your pacing is off, no amount of editing will fix it, no matter how much effort you put into it.

Revising takes a lot of work. You have to look at your whole story and really understand it. You have to know your character motivations, your theme, your tone and style. You have to be able to look at the big picture, and you have to figure out where things have gone wrong and how to fix it.

And THEN you can edit. After all, why waste time on a line by line level if you’re going to end up cutting the whole scene, or rewriting a major portion of it?

What’s your editing/revising process like, Squiders? Do you have issues with one or the other?


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