What’s So Innovative About Editing?
Let’s start this one out with definitions for the words “innovative” and “editing.”
According to the all-knowing Dictionary.com, innovative means: “Tending to innovate, or introduce something new or different; characterized by innovation,” while the verb it’s based on “introduce[s] something new” or makes “changes in anything established.”
It should also be added that innovative has very positive connotations, with synonyms like:
Dictionary.com’s sister site, Thesaurus.com, even lists “cool” as a potential replacement. And I wholeheartedly agree.
Then we have editing, which isn’t nearly so exciting. A somewhat stodgy academic term, it means:
To supervise or direct the preparation of (a newspaper, magazine, book, etc.; serve as editor of; direct the editorial policies of
To collect, prepare, and arrange (materials) for publication
To revise or correct, as a manuscript
While editing doesn’t necessarily have horrible connotations, and it is a very necessary act, it isn’t the kind of word that automatically inspires bright and shiny feelings. The thought, much less the act, has been known to induce deep-seated angst and, in extreme cases, full-out sob-fests.
To a large degree, those negative associations are the fault of editors everywhere, who too often are overbearingly opinionated about their grammatical rules and sentence structures. Instead of letting the original author be the final judge, a stereotypical editor will try to impose his idea of good writing on anyone who makes the mistake of asking for his opinions.
And his opinions can be harsh. Brutal even. Many famous or well-to-do editors are known for being downright unfeeling or sadistic at worst, hence the possibility of a full-out sob-fest.
That’s why I named my business Innovative Editing: because it’s a new approach to the improvement process.
Oh, I have my opinions on what good writing looks like. After editing for various purposes and publications for more than 10 years now, it’s rather hard not to have a stance on what works and what doesn’t.
Plus, people who hire an editor are looking for exactly that… someone who can strengthen their written product.
So I know the important grammatical rules, and when to break them for emphasis or effect. I understand the creative writing ideas of plot, character, setting and dialogue; and the non-fiction necessities of theme, structure and flow. Plus, I can catalog when a sentence is repetitive, a word choice isn’t clear enough, and an ending needs some additional “oomph” to really drive a message home.
But I’m also a writer, so I understand what a personal process writing can be. Regardless of whether you’re working on a book, a company report or descriptive copy for your website, the words you choose are an offshoot of who you are.
Your vocabulary choices, sentence structure and main message are all a product of your experiences, beliefs and worldviews, which makes it difficult to then hear an editor tear it all apart.
Innovative Editing doesn’t stand for tearing your hard work apart though. It instead takes what you’ve already written and works at strengthening it through suggestions, insights, questions and affirmations.
Or, put another way, Innovative Editing points out both the good and problematic in your fiction or non-fiction manuscript or copy to not only tell you what but also why, turning you into a stronger writer and making your finished project do exactly what you want it to do... whether that’s attract, sell, educate or engage.
Bottom line: When you get great guidance to put your best words forward, you have no idea how innovative editing can be.