I’ve been editing manuscripts for a while now and I’ve noticed that it has changed the way I write a great deal.
In the beginning of my career, I edited scientific literature. I learnt to read without reading at all. So I may have read a scientific treatise on ophthalmology but if you asked me about it, I wouldn’t have much of an idea. The reason is language editing involves looking for grammatical errors and inconsistencies and this can be done without understanding the concepts that you are speed reading.
But you can’t do this when you edit fiction.When you edit fiction, you may need to read the manuscript twice or more, the first time, maybe in a hurry and the second time looking out for inconsistencies in the plot. I still work on the language of the book and haven’t moved to developmental editing, but I do this kind of editing when it comes to my own writing. So if I’ve written a few passages, I stitch it together and here editing helps. Editing cleans the paragraph and removes all clutter. The cleaner the paragraph is the more the story shines through.
I was advised by a writer that everything lies in the text itself. There is no need to look anywhere else, so reworking the text is what writers do and editing helps do this better.
The problem with editing this way, however, is that it takes much longer to finish the book or story at all. You are so intent on making that first chapter perfect that you do not finish the first draft at all. This method might not work with all writers. I thought it was wrong as far as I was concerned but now I think perhaps it is the only way I can write.