EDITING: There is an art to editing a manuscript. It requires a solid read, a solid understanding of what the author intended to convey, a solidly ‘red’ mark-up of where it is weak, or fails, lots of sidebar scribbling, and then an in-depth discussion with the author.
These days, most of my editing comes under Story Therapy. This is where, like a psychological evaluation, I work with the author to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the story, and how to strengthen or repair it.
This becomes a dynamic relationship where we continue through completion, to develop the best possible manuscript. Too often, as writers, we lack a solid critique, lack people able to bluntly tell us where we went wrong. Unfortunately, it is easy to find people to praise even the worst of your work; however this hardly helps. You already know you can write, and you have enough confidence to do the work.
Having someone show you where it doesn’t work, whether that is a story weakness, or just the way in which the material was presented, can be immeasurable helpful.
PROOFING: Proofing is not “spell-check” on your computer. It is not one of the fancy, grammatical checkers now available. While both of these are useful, they are not able to differentiate inaccuracies, especially in context. For example: “It was when I went to meat the man that things went wronged.” Spell-check considers all those words to be correct. Some grammar checkers will catch the ‘wronged’ use of ‘meat’, while others will miss it.
Proofing is a collaborative effort. Hiring a proofer is like buying wine; you get what you pay for. I’ve seen proofers who miss the most absurd errors, and some who catch things that I will miss, unless they just had an argument with their spouse, didn’t sleep the night before due to a sick child, or just can’t stand reading the story.
While I am in favor of paying for proofing, I also suggest that the author collaborates with that person, a back and forth of items caught, and, at the same time, some edits, as well. When I work with authors, usually in Story Therapy or as a Full Service Publisher, I like the editing process to be mutual.