Writers On Writing / Pamela Hewitt on the importance of elegance in editing

‘Accuracy is vital but so are style and elegance.’

Pamela Hewitt is an accredited editor who has been involved in editing and publishing for over 25 years. After an in-house career in educational and academic editing, she established a freelance editorial practice which includes fiction and non-fiction, as well as educational and mentorship activities. A qualified teacher, Pamela has presented editing and writing programs around Australia and internationally.

Pamela Hewitt Professional Editing

What led you to a career in editing?
I love working with words so it’s not surprising that I gravitated towards publishing. I started in academic editing, but it’s a job with the freedom to change direction. I’ve worked for both publishers and writers and I’ve developed interests in different subject areas and genres, from Asian studies to fiction and memoir, and from print to digital.

Is professional editing just about grammar?
You’re kidding, right? It’s so much more than spelling and grammar. Editing is also about structure (order, flow, balance), consistency (spelling, capitalisation, hyphenation), a sense of audience (who are you writing for?) and purpose (is it to inform, persuade, delight?). Accuracy is vital but so are style and elegance.

What’s one key tip for writers keen to level up their editing skills?
Come to your writing with fresh eyes. There are shortcuts, like allowing time between writing and editing phases and identifying weaknesses in your own style – all writers have them – but the habit of cultivating a cool, objective mindset is a valuable skill.

Develop your editing skills with Pamela in Professional Editing over 6 Wednesday evenings: 10, 17, 24, 31 May; 7, 14 June, 6:30pm-9:30pm at the NSW Writers’ Centre.

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