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“Edit” is not synonymous with “fix”

I just saw the umpteenth iteration of “If only this had been edited!” which I’m not linking to because why and also because it’s always and everywhere. You can’t swing a dead pixel without hitting some forum comment lamenting that There Are Errors Where There Shouldn’t Be.


The verb “edit,” when it’s applied to text, does not mean “fix.” I don’t care what the dictionary says, it doesn’t. It means “change.”

Obviously, yes, we hope the changes we make will be improvements. We’re trying to fix things when they’re broken, correct inconsistencies, smooth out sentence structures, fix verb tenses, switch out that off-key word with a clearer one, whatever. Edits are an attempt at improving things.

However, sometimes an edit creates a conflict with something else in the text. Sometimes it’s just a flat out error. What’s more, as a reader we can’t tell if an error was added in the first draft and missed in revisions or if it was added on the very last pass through.

Hey, mistakes happen, even when you edit.

Mirrored from Twenty Palaces. You can comment here but not there.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 21st, 2014 06:17 am (UTC)
Also, "edit" in a comment often means "revise to my [hitherto unstated] specifications"; there is a frequent confusion between "mistakes" and "bits I disagree with".
May. 21st, 2014 09:42 am (UTC)

This was just what I was about to come and add. "I think this part of the book is boring/goes on too long/isn't relevant/doesn't conform to my specific interests, therefore this book needs to be edited."

For example, I feel strongly that Harry Potter & the Summer Vacation needed to be excised entirely from ... whatever book dedicates its first quarter or third to the summer holiday ... but it boggles my mind that people actually believe that the later Potter books were not edited. That ain't how it works, chillun.
May. 21st, 2014 02:14 pm (UTC)
Very much so.
May. 21st, 2014 06:48 am (UTC)
May. 21st, 2014 02:13 pm (UTC)

::looks at feet::
May. 21st, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
Well, it’s also true that many people do not understand what editors do - so they assume “editing” means “copy-editing” - which they frequently assume actually means “proof-reading”.

In general, if people complain about editing on twitter what they means is the book is rife with misspellings and bag punctuation. Among other things. In which case “edited” means “fixed”.

You can sort of tell when someone is a writer and they say “book needed editing”, because they mean an entirely different thing (see Catie’s post above).
May. 21st, 2014 09:35 pm (UTC)
I don't know. I get those writer-reviews from readers, too. Either I have too many characters or there were dull parts or whatever.

But a misspelling or misused homophone are the easiest things for readers to catch.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )