7 August 2020 | Uncategorised

Editing and cleaning

Sometimes editing is like cleaning your house – when the floor is vacuumed and mopped, the washing folded and the bathrooms cleaned, the effort involved is almost invisible. But when the bins overflow or the washing piles up, it’s noticeable. With editing, no one ever reads a book and exclaims, ‘My goodness, every word was spelt correctly and look at that perfectly punctuated dialogue!’ But if there’s one typo, there’s a complaint!

Of course, there’s a lot more to editing than spelling, grammar and punctuation. And most authors will thank their editor profusely in the acknowledgements because the editor usually understands exactly what they’re trying to express and helps them to realise their vision for their book.

I proofread a manuscript on social media this week. The book was well-written and needed little correction, except for inconsistent bullet lists. Perhaps no one would notice whether one page had bullet lists with fullstops and capital letters because each bullet point was a complete sentence and another page had lists with lower case letters and no fullstops because each bullet point completed the leading phrase. But consistency is important and visual elements like lists do help the reader to focus on the text.

Just like housework, there are many invisible jobs to do with editing but there’s a sense of satisfaction in having a clean bathroom and a neat set of bullet points! And as I’ve spent more time editing than cleaning in the last month, there’ll be a little cleaning catching up to do (for the whole family) this weekend!

What editing mistake or cleaning job frustrates you the most?

Ovarian cancer day


Colleen Warfield

Hi Karen, I think having too much time to do my chores at the moment is frustrating because I just leave them undone 🎈♥️

August 7, 2020 at 8:35 am


Dirty laundry with the sleeves not pulled out the right way, grrrr! But I do love an empty laundry hamper, which doesn’t happen very often. A consistent bullet list is also appreciated 🙂

August 7, 2020 at 10:14 am


At least when you edit a book Karen, it stays edited. Cleaning just needs to be done again and again and again.

Just about to start cleaning oven……..yuk!


August 7, 2020 at 11:03 am


An interesting comparison Karen. My least favoured editorial trend is the reliance on Spell Check and the trend towards the use of web citations which are not peer reviewed and can be altered at any time. A little like trusting your children when they tell you their rooms have been spotlessly cleaned and they will tidy up when they are finished whatever they are doing in your recently cleaned space!

August 7, 2020 at 11:37 am

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