In Emma’s estimation, there are three kinds of editing or revising, and she does all three: copyediting (for grammar and style), content editing (for story arc, cohesiveness, thematic consistency), and conceptual editing (includes copy and content editing, and also interrogates the text for logic).

Emma follows four steps when she edits:

  1. question the text
  2. communicate clearly
  3. remove distractions
  4. read, reread, reread again

1. Question the text.  Emma reads through it once.  She gets the feel for the general idea behind the piece of writing.  Does every word, in some way, come back to that main question?  Or is it just a general musing?  What about the train of thought?  Why is it there?  How does it answer the publication’s question?  If it does not address the question the publication is attempting to answer, it should be cut.

Emma also questions the text for clarity.  Is it clear, interesting, concise?  Does it transition?  Do you lead the reader to your point—does every sentence make clear what you’re trying to say?  Why should we care?

2. Communicate clearly.  After all, this is the point.  Words are the mechanism.  What’s the best way to illustrate what you’re trying to say?  What devices can you use?  Formatting?  Rhythm?  Metaphors?  Emma will weld your writing, using words and figures of speech as my tools.  She’ll make sure you say what you’re saying, in as few words as possible, and make those the best possible words.  We’ll try to use varied sentence structure, powerful verbs, and clear subjects.  Emma will sit with it, think about it, close my eyes, let words pop in my mind, and ideas.  She’ll make sure your writing is helping you, not hurting you.  And you aren’t asking too much of the devices you use. Emma will cut the ones that can’t be replaced or edited.  Let the writing do the work.

3. Remove distractions.  Grammatical errors are distractions.  They get in the way of communication.  They turn the reader’s attention to either trying to figure out what you’re trying to say or how disturbed they are with your mistake.  Emma can find your traps and look for them. She fixes them.  Some common errors that Emma often finds in the work of her clients: pronoun confusion, dangling modifiers, overusing prepositional phrases, incorrect semicolon use.

4.  Read, reread, reread again.  Every time Emma makes a change, she rereads it.  Every time she makes more changes, she rereads again.  When Emma gets through the entire work without making additional changes, she reads the piece all the way through, then whispers it to herself.  Something happens in speaking out loud that doesn’t happen with silent reading.  Emma listens to how it sounds, how it feels, how it works. She stops when something doesn’t sound right.