Pamela Hewitt is an accredited editor who has been involved in editing and publishing for 25 years. After an in-house career in educational and academic editing, she established a freelance editorial practice. A qualified teacher, Pamela has presented editing and writing programs for universities, vocational educational colleges, writers’ centres, among others.
So, editing is just checking spelling and grammar, right?
You’re kidding, right? It’s so much more than spelling and grammar, important as these are. Editing is also about structure (order, flow and balance), consistency (spelling, capitalisation and hyphenation), a sense of audience (pitching the text to the reader) and purpose (is the intention to delight, inform, persuade or disarm?). Accuracy is vital but so are style and elegance.
You’ve been involved in editing and publishing for 25 years. How have you seen the practice of editing change?
The most obvious changes have been technological. Hard copy editing has moved onscreen and printed books have been joined by digital texts. The context has changed, too. Writing and publishing are far more accessible and this has led to an avalanche of self-publishing. Some things haven’t changed. Quality and originality are as important – and rare – now as ever.
What’s your best tip for those wanting to improve their editorial skills, whether they’re editing their own work or the work of other people?
Cultivate informed judgement. Dozens of techniques can improve the standard from manuscript to published text but the skill of identifying which to apply is the secret. It can be anything from analysing sentence structure to being sensitive to fresh ways of engaging with language. It’s picking up passages and words that are repetitive or obvious. Being a good editor means knowing when to dive in and make bold changes, and when to adopt a lighter touch.
Learn the art of editing with Pamela in her Professional Editing course, held over six Tuesday evenings from 10 May to 14 June, 6:30pm-9:30pm at the NSW Writers’ Centre.