What Is The Difference Between Editing And Critiquing?

By on June 24, 2017
What Is The Difference Between Editing And Critiquing? - Writer's Life.org

Understanding the difference between editing and critiquing is really rather important. This is particularly pertinent for authors who have come to the end of their personal editing and redrafting process and are looking to hire and editor to give it that final professional polish before submitting it to agents and publishers.

Deciding whether to choose a manuscript critique or go for a comprehensive edit could make all the difference to the success of your book, and understanding the difference between them is crucial. A professional editor is rarely cheap (and if it is it’s probably not very good) so you need to make sure you have done your research and know exactly what you are getting before you part with any hard earned cash.

With that in mind, let’s first look at what a manuscript critique offers an author.

A manuscript critique will give an author a general assessment of their manuscript. The editor will read the story as a whole and give you feedback on how strong they feel the plot is, how the characters have developed and whether you have got the pacing right. A manuscript critique helps authors who feel uncertain about their story, or perhaps feel it is weak in certain parts. They will critique the theme, the structure, the characterisation and how the story unfolds throughout the book, giving examples of where the story needs to be improved, and advice on how to do so.

What a manuscript critique doesn't do, however, is look for grammar and spelling mistakes, repetition, or points where the language or dialogue feels awkward or misplaced. Essentially it can tell you how good your book is in general but doesn’t get down to the finer details, the nitty gritty - remember a book littered with spelling mistakes will get past no publisher, no matter how fabulous it is.

Now let’s take a look at what’s included in a comprehensive edit

A comprehensive edit tends to be a lot more thorough and detailed than a manuscript critique. Here authors are offered advice on how to restructure their novel, how to tighten the plot, which parts of your novel could be cut, where you need to build more tension, where characters are inconsistent or need to act or react in a different way - a comprehensive edit really gets down to fine tuning your novel and making it the very best it can be.

However, it is hard to do one without the other. A manuscript critique is often the first step writers take in order to get an overview of where their story could be improved. Once they have taken this advice on board and amended their manuscript according, it’s then a good time to invest in a comprehensive edit as well.

Of course, many editors also offer a basic copyediting service, this is where only spelling, grammar and punctuation errors are brought to your attention - with the occasional comment on the structure or where there may be inconsistencies or repetition. This option is preferred by authors who don’t want their story to be messed with and prefer to simply ensure it is error free.

Of course, each of these come with different price tags and often it does come down to costs when an author decides which type of edit to choose. None will ever guarantee to make your book a bestseller so there will always be that risk - however, a professional reputable editor will be able to give your book the best chance of success.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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