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Friday, April 1, 2016

What's The Difference Between Revising and Editing?

I love turning the page on the calendar to a new month. It feels like a fresh start and each month has its own special feeling. April is springtime in the northern hemisphere. Quite often, Easter is celebrated in April. We consider April showers that bring May flowers, April Fool's Day (today!) and Tax Day on the 15th. For the past 20 years, April is National Poetry month. 

Today's post is about none of those things mentioned. I speak regularly here about revising and editing your writing. Why two words? Why not one that covers all? There is a difference. And there is also some difference in what you do for fiction and nonfiction to revise or edit. I'll address nonfiction today and fiction at a later time. 

Nonfiction (credit to Diana Parsell who discussed the following at a writer's conference I attended and am sharing with you)

  • Meaning and clarity--what is it about and what deeper message do you want to convey?
  • Form--does it need another form to make it more clear or is minor editing OK?
  • Structure--the organization and presentation of the information, including transitional devices and balance of multiple elements
  • Balance--do you give equal amount of attention to each aspect, or are some heavier than others? 
  • Variety--this covers both sentence construction and sections of your piece.
  • Economy--have you used efficient presentation and use of language?
  • Exactness--have you said exactly what you meant?
  • Vividness--have you used techniques to make your writing come alive for readers? 
Another day, I will go into more detail on some of what we do in revision and editing in nonfiction. Much of this will apply to fiction but that form of writing also has its own specifics to be considered when revising and editing. 

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