Revising and editing. Editing and revising. One in the same, right? No, not really. Writers need both but simply doing one without the other means you’ve only done half the work. In order for a work to be truly finished, you need to both edit and revise.
So what’s the difference between the two? It personally took me a few months to wrap my head around the difference.
Editing refers to correcting grammar and spelling. A writer doesn’t necessarily come with inherit skills of good grammar and spelling, however, if one is deficient in these areas, brushing up on those skills is a good idea. There are online classes as well as numerous books and websites. It’s also not a bad idea to ask someone whose grammar and spelling are solid to take a look over your piece.
To me editing is the easiest part of the process. My grammar and spelling skills have always been strong plus I have the added bonus of my spouse is also strong in those areas as well so whatever I miss, he catches.
Revision is the biggest challenge of any piece. It’s more about looking at the overall structure of a piece. Does the plot make sense? Are there holes in the story which need to be shored up? Do the subplots support the main story? Are the main character(s) well-rounded? Does the dialogue or action add or subtract to the story? Is this the correct POV? Most importantly, does this story even work?
There is a lot of cutting involved in the revision process. Entire scenes chucked out an imaginary window. Plots changes with things either being dropped or added. Characters removed or new ones created. It’s a much more time intensive and stressful process than simply correcting grammar and spelling in a sentence.
But like editing, having someone else read your work in progress is beneficial. Usually the first reader or readers outside the author are referred to as Beta Reader(s). Anyone can be a Beta Reader although it is usually best if that person isn’t someone like a parent, sibling, or significant other. Writers groups are great places for Beta Readers although having too many people look over your work can lead to lots of confusing suggestions. Ultimately you as the author have the final say in what stays or goes.
For me, I either my spouse (I use him because he can usually be objective), or a writers group when I’m lucky enough to be part of one. Getting in-depth feedback no matter from who gives it is crucial to development as a writer. That being said, it is a good idea for a writer to develop his or her own revising skills.
Editing and revision are the part of the creative process many writers either love or hate. Some say that the rough draft stage is the best part because there’s this rush of excitement and flurry of creativity. Anything after that is long and painful. I tend to side with enjoying the revision process more than the initial rough draft. I guess because in subsequent drafts I can fix things and play around a bit more. The first draft is the bones of the stories; revision is where I can flesh out the story.