While I'm not much of a writer myself, I love to give feedback. I love helping edit a near-complete work. I love giving advice on writing! However, I've had the comment recently made to me that it felt like I had edited a work that a friend asked me to give feedback on.
Now, I don't always thinking about myself as an Editor unless I am working on something that is going to be published by me, or I'm being somehow rewarded (besides with friendship) for my work. And this was not one of those cases.
So it got me thinking: when do you cross the line from critique to edits? How do you know how much to give, and what to suggest, without overstepping bounds that weren't meant to be crossed?
Here's what I came up with, but I'd love to hear your thoughts:
- Critiquers points out things that don't make sense or aren't engaging from a reader's point of view. Also, these pieces are sometimes farther from release. Editors look for (sometimes) marketability, any mistakes in writing, and how to improve the way your voice or style is presented.
- Critique is telling you what to do without doing it for you. Editing is doing it for you, sometimes without necessarily telling you how to do it.
- Critiquing is looking at problems and finding strategies to fix them. The goal is to help the writer grow, not show your own prowess. Editors, if they are making changes, are trying to make them themselves, and must do so in the exact voice of the author.
- I think many of us may use critique and edit synonymously, but there really is a difference. A critique can give the writer an idea of what works and what does not work in a story and help a stalled story take off again. An edit should come when a story is close to ready for publication and help the writer polish up his or her prose.
All in all, I think that we here in the Community focus on critique, and I think that's the right way to go. From now on, when a friend asks me to edit, I'll confirm that they want real changes, and not just an opinion to help them along!