Editing: The Art of Asking the Right Questions (Part 2)

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Maureen Shelley continues with Part 2 of “10 Simple Steps to becoming a successful published author” series, putting the spotlight on masterful editing.

An editor will proof read and undertake more substantive edits to a work. Proof reading involves checking for semantics, typographical errors and grammar.

In searching for grammatical errors, an editor will consider a range of issues; and here are just some.

  1. Has the writer made the correct use of definitive articles?
  2. Has the writer avoided confusing modifiers?
  3. Are the subject and verb in agreement, in grammatical terms?
  4. Has the writer used appropriate punctuation within sentences?
  5. Does the sentence structure follow established principles? If not, is it appropriate for the work?
  6. Are there any spelling errors?
  7. What is the style for capitalisation and is it used consistently?
  8. Are thepro-noun (s) /noun (s) in agreement?
  9. Has the writer split their infinitives?
  10. Are there squinting or limiting modifiers used?
  11. Are there incomplete comparisons in the work?
  12. Has the writer solved the great gerund mystery?
  13. Are there redundant pairs?
  14. Has the writermisused or confused ‘like’ and ‘as’?
  15. Has the writer taken the long way round to say something? That is, are there circumlocutions?
  16. Has the correct punctuation been used, particularly in regard to question marks?
  17. Has the writer confused self and personal pronoun use?
  18. Is there pronoun and antecedent agreement?
  19. Has the writer used double negatives?
  20. Has the writer begun or ended sentences with a conjunctive?
  21. Is therecomparison of absolute adjectives?
  22. Has the writer used unbalanced quantifiers or dangling modifiers?
  23. In regard to semicolons; are they used correctly?
  24. Is the verb form use appropriate?
  25. Has the writer used prepositions at the beginning or end of sentences? If so, is that appropriate for the text?
  26. Has the writer indulged in noun strings?
  27. Do the verb tenses agree?
  28. Has there beenmisuse of subordinate or subjunctive clauses?
  29. Is there incorrect pronoun case agreement?

Apart from resolving these issues, an editor will also (if paid and directed to do so) check facts, gain permissions where appropriate, insert appropriate references (biblical, geographical and literary are just a few), index, mark citations, insert footnotes and endnotes and create a glossary.
In addition to all of this, a good editor will ensure that a work is readable and makes sense. That it has a consistent structure and sensible flow or a cohesive narrative.
A good editor is worth their weight in gold. (And they will check for clichés too!) Oh, and they will eliminate exclamation marks or ‘screamers’ as they are known. 

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About

Maureen Shelley is CEO and owner of TCC. She is an experienced digital and content strategist and was a nationally-syndicated journalist. Our all-round guru. Maureen manages corporate, digital and government projects for TCC. She loves helping clients and, with three masters degrees, knows lots.

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