These last few months I’ve had the honour of editing a fellow student’s writing while she took on the task of editing mine. I’ve learnt a few things along the way. Editing someone else’s voice is both challenging and easy. The easy part is correcting spelling and turning commas into full-stops.
The challenge comes when trying to preserve the unique voice of the author. Rewriting sentences for clarity is a noble aim but censoring someone’s style is another thing altogether. This is a line I walk unsteadily along at times.
My editing partner and I were the only two in our class that were not writing fiction pieces. This means we were well partnered and found it easier to address each other’s work. Non-fiction writing still needs to address many of the same structures as fiction writing: the small story within the big story, stasis, inciting incident, turning points and resolution, active voice, no cliches or jargon.
I was pleasantly surprised how much I didn’t hate rewriting. I have to be in the right frame of mind to rewrite but it’s almost easier because you have clear direction. And yes, it is easier to cull and rearrange words once you have something down.
My partner is also well-organised and follows through on her commitments which I heartily appreciate. She graduates at the end of the year and yet I’ve still got at least another year to go. I hope she’s interested in a little freelance editing in the near future.