Writing & Substantive Editing

Substantive editing

Substantive editing generally involves restructuring of material, together with some element of rewriting. Substantive editing is defined by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders as :

Level 3 [editing]: Substantive/development editing The publisher client will have agreed with the author (who is primarily an information provider and not necessarily an experienced writer) that reconstruction and rewriting are necessary in order to adapt the material for its defined market, as well as Level 1 copy-editing and mark-up.

Recent substantive editing projects include:

Restructuring article and reducing word-count

This involved editing of an article of c. 9000 words to reduce it to the c. 2000 words required by a particular journal. Initial assessment revealed the most important ideas and arguments, which had been repeated under a number of headings and mixed in with other material. The solution was to entirely restructure the article, and to move text to the relevant section, thus presenting a logical progression of ideas. Repetition and redundant elements were removed, and decisions made in conjunction with the author as to which sections could be omitted, thus preserving the strongest ideas. With such a drastic reduction of word count required, all superfluous clauses/words were removed, leaving clear, grammatically correct text.

Restructuring/rewriting grievance statement for industrial tribunal

Initial assessment of the prepared grievance statement revealed that an objective point of view would improve the clarity and strength of the statement. As was to be expected, the client was too close to his text, and had intermingled emotional and factual issues. The solution was to restructure the text under meaningful headings, while retaining the author's material as far as possible. Factual and personal material was presented separately, giving a cleaner and stronger presentation of the client's story.