1. S S
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    S S Active Member

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    Difference Between Giving Critique and Editing

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by S S, Oct 16, 2014.

    I've just finished my first novel and I can't wait to get it out there, but I'm waiting for feedback from a few friends to see if I can better the story at all.

    I don't really want to share the cover with another name if I can avoid it, so I was wondering, what is the exact difference between critique and editing. Some of my friends have already given me some great advice and some new ways to do things in the story, which I then implemented. When does their help start to enter the area of 'Editor'?
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    When you start to pay them for their efforts, I'd say. Until then, they're helpful friends.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Someone who gives critique is going to point out things that don't make sense or make suggestions about how to make your piece more engaging. In short, he/she is going to look at your work from a reader's point of view. Also, critiquers are more likely to read a piece that isn't completely ready to be submitted. On the other hand, what you give to an editor is something that's as polished as you can make it. An editor's job is then to find ways to bring out your voice and style to further improve the piece. Depending on what type of editor you submit to, he/she may also look at your piece from the point of view of marketability.

    (There are, of course, editors who only work on SPaG issues, but I'm not including those in this discussion because I don't think they're necessary to begin with.)
     
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  4. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Critique is more or less just telling you what to do without doing it for you. Editing is doing it for you without necessarily telling you how to do it.
     
  5. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    Imho asking friends for their opinion is just inviting some general feedback. Choosing to make changes resulting from that is you doing your own editing.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's it, in a nutshell really. Editing is actually making changes to the manuscript—whoever does it. Critiquing just suggests them.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agree with the various above comments, but I'm puzzled by this:

    Another person's name doesn't go on the cover unless you're co-writing the book with them. An editor is not a co-writer.
     
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  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I disagree about editors making changes - they certainly shouldn't be, not without the author's involvement.

    I've worked with quite a few different publishers and never had an editor change more than a punctuation mark or clear typo, and even then they do it with 'Track Changes' on so I can see what they've done and approve or disapprove of it. For anything larger than that they leave comments, saying things like "antecedent unclear" or "autonomous body parts" or "would he really say that" or "can we add a scene to SHOW this happening" or whatever.

    I agree that they don't tell me how to fix things, but they don't just make their own changes, either.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Editors look at sentence structure, grammar, punctuation and so on.

    Critique looks at story telling.

    When you hire an editor to review a piece, their name does not go on the book. When you see editors names on books that's an editor that controls the content of a non-fiction book like a textbook or a reference book.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's still editing if you tell the writer what to rewrite a passage to. Critiquing involves identifying perceived problems and suggesting strategies to resolve them. An example here and there is okay, but the goal is to help the writer grow, not show your own prowess.

    An editor who can make changes that retain the writer's style is a rare and expensive professional service, and requires careful co-training (and a probationary period) to find the right editor. And it only becomes possible when the writer's style is sufficiently matured and stable.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some editors look at the sentences, grammar, etc. Others look at story. http://work.chron.com/types-book-editors-12179.html

    The basic difference between a critique and an editor is one is free and may or may not have any actual training in writing (betas can be readers only, for example). An actual editor, regardless of what type, is a professional with the training and background to back up what they tell you.
     
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  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I agree that an editor works for a professional fee. But he or she does not necessarily have training and background. In an ideal world, yes. In the real world, caveat emptor.
     
  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, then you get into the question of whether just calling yourself an editor is enough to actually make you an editor.

    If I hung out a shingle and called myself a doctor, even though I have no medical training, that would mean that I am a fraud. It wouldn't change the definition of 'doctor'.
     
  14. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    A critique is vague and an edit is detailed.
     
  15. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which is why I said an "actual editor" will have the training and background. Otherwise it's just someone calling themselves that.
     
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  16. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would disagree with that. In my online critique groups, the comments could run to pages, even for one chapter. The whole idea of having the group was to have detailed critiques, rather than the "I liked that" comments that most of us received elsewhere.
     
  17. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Fair enough. To be honest, my real opinion is that a critique is an opinion and an edit is a correction. But I think that would get shot down even more!
     
  18. jonahmann
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    jonahmann Active Member

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    Criticism is an evaluation; an edit is a resynthesis.
     
  19. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I get your point but I can't resist being a smartass... what if you have a doctorate in economics? You'd still be a fraud but you WOULD be a doctor. One definition of a doctor is someone that has earned the highest level of formal tertiary education.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, but that's a tautology. An actual editor has formal training and background because that's your definition of an actual editor.

    Anyone who makes editing their career is an actual editor. Check the definitions of actual.

    I'm a software engineer by profession. I even have a degree in it, but I was one long before I went back to school for the paper. Unlike a physician, neither a software engineer nor an editor requires a certification to be part of that profession. And to be clear, the certification has not been devised that can guarantee that the subject is more qualified than someone who does not possess that certification.
     
  21. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    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.
     
  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, then we'd have to look at the definition of 'career', too. I'd say that if someone has made editing their career, by my definition of the word, they've made it the focus of their work for a significant portion of their life, gotten training in the field, made significant income in the field, etc. So, yeah, I'd call that person an editor.

    But not everyone who's calling themselves an editor has done any of that.

    ETA: And just to clarify... that's not really MY definition of 'career' - that's everyone's definition. I looked it up in three different dictionaries. Dictionary.com has a lovely first definition: "an occupation or profession, especially one requiring special training, followed as one's lifework" which includes shadowwalker's criteria quite nicely. So... where's the tautology, exactly?
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that "editor" can have a pretty broad spectrum of definitions. My impresson is that one's editor at a newspaper, for example, does whatever he darn well pleases with a story. My impression is that a book editor at a publisher expresses concerns and points out problems, maybe at a very detailed level, but leaves it to the writer to fix those issues. I think(? I could be wrong) that a copy editor focuses on the very fine SPAG detail without opinionating about the overall piece.

    So I think that I would distinguish between a critiquer and an editor in terms of their responsibility for the piece. Someone who critiques can provide that critique and speed off into the sunset. An editor, I feel, sticks around until their part of the job is done.

    However, largely contrary to the above, when I'm reviewing in the Review Room, my definitions are:

    Critique: Telling the person what's wrong.
    Edit: Telling them how they should fix it.
     
  24. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If one hasn't the training and background, they are not going to make a career of editing. A career as a scam artist, perhaps, but not as an editor.
     
  25. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there's an element of authority to editing. Whether it's b/c the editor is employed by your publisher or is an expert in the field, I think a wise author pays very close attention to an editor's comments and should think long and hard before dismissing them.

    A critique, on the other hand, doesn't have that same kind of authority, to me. I mean, as a courtesy, if one offers something for critique one should pay attention to the comments, since somebody did you a favour by spending time looking at your work. But I don't think critiques have any real authority, and an author should feel free to take or leave any ideas offered.
     

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