I’ve done a lot of non-fiction editing over the years and I’ve found the way to approach it is objectively.
This is because content is usually not in question, just quality. The client doesn’t give a fig what you change as long as the finished product gets their message across in the most concise, simple and easy-to-read way possible and the language suits the organisation.
So, unless I find major problems that necessitate discussion with the client, I edit, rewrite and rearrange to my heart’s content and hand them back the finished document. But as I’ve said before, I track all of my changes so the client can check the changes.
I do it all on screen, going through the document twice. The first time I familiarise myself with the topic and form a view of what needs doing. The second time I get down to business.
Fiction I approach both objectively and subjectively.
Objectively for such things as spelling, punctuation and grammar when doing a proofread. Subjectively in relation to quality of writing and story development etc., because you need to be careful that anything you do doesn’t change the author’s voice. Mind you, some of the manuscripts I’ve read have needed a lot of work to bring out an author’s potential as a writer.
Whether I do a screen edit or a combination of screen and paper edit depends on the amount of work to be done. At the least I’ll go through the document on-screen twice, as I do with non-fiction. If more work is needed I’ll also go through it on paper. I can spread the pages out and it’s only my eye that needs to jump around to see what’s where and where I think things need moving to. I find that process so much easier to do on paper than on screen.
Once everything I’ve done on paper has been transferred to the electronic copy I’ll switch to Final view and go through the edited clean copy to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
Next week I’ll talk about how editors approach the pricing of jobs.