I’ll look a little deeper now into the context of my business and into the first aspect of editing recognised by the Australian Standards of Editing Practice, structural editing.
Before examining the details of writing, it can be necessary to first assess its structure. A failure to respect the bigger picture aspects of the writing will result in a failure to communicate its intention. Structural editing refers to the purpose of the writing, its logic and flow of ideas. Can some elements be removed without affecting the meaning of the text? Would it be advantageous to change the sequence in which the material is presented for clearer understanding?
If a character in a novel seems to play no essential part in the development of the narrative, why is he or she in there? What is the purpose of the events that take place in that scene? Do they help develop the character arcs of those involved? Or do they create confusion, or merely repeat a development that has already come or will come in a later scene? Is the material compelling to read in this or that chapter, or does it strike the reader as mundane or unnecessary? These are some of the questions to do with structure that an editor who specializes in that aspect of editing considers. It is equally important whether the writing is fiction or non-fiction.
A staircase contains a number of small steps leading anyone using it in an easy, systematic manner towards the top. Without these steps, an average pedestrian will not be able to reach the top. Without exceptional gymnastic ability or rock climbing equipment, all that will be encountered will be a block of wood or stone and a precarious climb. In a similar manner, a work of writing needs to follow easy steps, leading the reader in sequence to easily understand its content.
For more on structure in writing, please read my blog on The Writer’s Journey. Bringing a brilliant analysis of what makes a great story is Christopher Vogler in his book The Writer’s Journey. Inspired by Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Vogler breaks down all the elements which stories, whether they be age-old or modern day, comprise to captivate their audience.