There are many phases of editing; each unique to a particular writing process. However, editing is important for a number of reasons. When people think editing, they primarily think of correcting grammar and spelling mistakes. A good editor can catch other problems, such as how a phrase sounds, how complex a phrase is, and whether a simpler phrase might work better.
Another fantastic thing about an editor is that they can help you view your story from a different perspective. Perhaps it sounds completely logical to you, but when another person reads a scene, it makes no sense. I know that even Brandon Sanderson has this problem when starting with fighting scenes. There is a problem with this perspective gathering; people want to change your story to fit their perspective. The trick is to get 80% there. You want to try to be understood and appreciated by 80% of the people that are going to read your work. (While also enjoying reading/writing it yourself)
My current editing process is:
- Overall Edit
- This draft you have a rough draft and are gathering ideas. (Often this is sent to another person to gain perspective) This is mostly to generate “why would” questions and try and spot major problems. For example, why would the main character do this instead of that? Or why did you spend a big scene doing this, even though it’s not needed?
- Structure Edit
- In this section you fix the elements of the story to fit a traditional arc. You might also back fill-in fore-shadowing if you forgot to address that properly. New scenes might be created and other scenes deleted.
- Prose Edit
- Here is where you increase concrete verbiage and descriptions, while removing introspection. This is also where pacing is addressed. (Removing or adding sentences to make it read at the correct pace)
- Robot Edit
- Here is where I have a text to speech editor read the story to me. This helps prevent odd sentences and missed words.
- Grammar Edit
- Here is where I run the story through grammar and style filters. I want the grammar to be correct, not to overuse words/phrases, and to be understood quickly.
- Polish Edit
- This final edit is sent to another person so that they can catch any last little bugs you might have missed.
While this may seem excessive, it does lead to a better, well-rounded story. That ultimately leads to connecting to others better as an author (which is the point of writing).