Structural editing


Place: Drawing room, University House, Australian National University
Cost: $150 (members); $250 (non-members)

About the course

Structural editing involves developing the logic and flow of a piece of writing, shaping and presenting the text in harmony with its internal progression. This is an important and creative process. Editors almost always do it to some degree and the process is often intuitive.

Whatever the writing technique, there is a relationship between good writing and clear thinking. First, you need to understand the author’s intentions, then to assess how well these aims are achieved. You’re looking for the underlying logic to match the shape of the text. If there are gaps or imbalances, what can be done?

The workshop puts structural work in context and makes practical suggestions for approaching the task.

Why is structural editing important?

  • Blurring of boundaries between fiction and non-fiction
  • Blurring of boundaries between levels of edit
  • Technological change

The characteristics of a structural editor

  • Love of and sensitivity to language
  • Ability to absorb and critically analyse and synthesise text
  • Active and experienced reader

The process—examination, diagnosis and treatment

  • Overview of the structure (contents, components)
  • Analysing the text (logic, balance)
  • Focus on transitional passages
  • More than one way to skin a cat
  • How far should you go?

Broad brush techniques

  • Adjustment of heading hierarchy
  • Using technical tools (views, styling)
  • Adjusting length
  • Choosing new pivotal points

Fine tuning

  • Synopsis
  • Renaming sections
  • Re-ordering within passages
  • Highlighting (case studies, text boxes, quotes)

Factors to bear in mind

  • Captions, tables, graphs and illustrations
  • Multi-author publications
  • Media (book, website, newsletter, article, blog)
  • If it ain’t broke…

Pamela Hewitt is a freelance editor, writer, trainer and proprietor of Emend Editing.

Pamela is a qualified teacher who has developed and presented programs on writing and editing for universities, vocational educational colleges, writers’ centres, literary festivals and editors’ societies around Australia and in New Zealand. She has also developed online editing courses on Professional Editing and Editing for Writers.

Pamela became an accredited editor in 2008, one of the first cohort of Australian accredited editors. She has been an active member of societies of editors and writers’ centres in Canberra and NSW, presenting papers at national editing conferences and writers’ festivals, including the Sydney Writers’ Festival and the ACT Word Festival.

Pamela was a member of IPEd’s National Working Group on Accreditation and co-convenor of the National Working Group on Education, Training and Mentoring.

Other professional initiatives include publishing The Fine Print, an independent online editing journal, and conducting five national surveys of editors. She is currently investigating ways that editors can survive and thrive in the era of the eBook and the app.

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