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  • Writer's pictureGayle Eng

Why Editing? What is Structural Editing Anyway?

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

For me, going into editing was a natural transition.

I always loved writing, but I never really wanted to be a writer per se. I always loved helping people succeed and be the best they could be, but I never really wanted to be in the spotlight myself.

And then I realized when something crosses your path, you have to see why it is there and where it is leading.

That is what happened when a young woman, referred by someone else I knew, came to me and asked me to take a look at the book she was writing. She was stuck and needed some direction. While she had enlisted the help of professional editors prior to coming to me, she was getting frustrated and was on the verge of quitting. Even though I was not even thinking of working again — as I was in the midst of taking care of my 4 year old son and my parents who were struggling with serious health issues — I told her I would take a look at it and see what I could do to help. I needed the distraction anyway!

After looking at what she had, I offered her a structure that would help organize her thoughts and her writing. This initial interaction led to a beautiful working relationship and a beautiful friendship. I realized I could encourage my friend, coach her along the way and help move this book forward. And, selfishly, I loved every minute of helping her make this book a reality!

After my friend’s book was published and consistently ranked in Amazon’s top sellers, she encouraged me that this is the kind of work I should be doing. She told me I helped her way more than the other editors she had tried. I pondered if this was something I could really do for my next career. After things calmed down with my parents, and our son started kindergarten, I began to seriously consider this as a possibility.

Realizing how I am wired and how I helped my friend, I knew I needed to focus more on being a structural editor than a copy editor. I knew I wasn’t detailed enough to be a copy editor, but I always loved the process of bringing a great work of writing or research together.

So what is the difference between a structural editor and a copy editor?

While a copy editor will help you fine tune grammar — ensuring that every “t” is crossed and the proper punctuation is in place — a structural editor helps you pull together your thoughts, ideas, musings and put them into one cohesive whole that makes sense, makes a point or makes an impact. Structural editors are big-picture wholistic thinkers who can help you ‘see’ the final product and also help carve a path to get there. Its like helping someone with a 1000 piece puzzle with no pictures on the pieces create the image and pull it all together.

Some ways I have been able to set people up for success (or will be doing so soon!) as a structural editor:

  • Help people who want to do a website or create marketing materials for their business, but they realize that they don’t know what to say about themselves or the business. I help get those thoughts and ideas out of their heads and then put the words together in different ways to populate the website or marketing material.

  • Help a client translate a lifetime of deep and profound experiences into 5 minute script for a video clip.

  • Take people’s ideas for a book and help them create a structure so they can begin to organize their thoughts and write in a more strategic and efficient way.

  • Take pages and pages of rough notes and carve out a structure that enables people to read though the material in terms of logical flow and impact.

As I began thinking about editing as a new career, I also knew that I needed at ‘team.” I wanted to be able to provide clients with both structural editing and copy editing services. I also wanted clients to have the opportunity to see how graphic design can work together with structural editing to enhance a piece of writing graphically. In essence, I wanted to provide clients with ‘end-to-end’ seamless services. And, with God’s divine intervention, He provided that team for me. I now can ensure that a piece of work is not only structurally edited, but also copy edited as well. I can now also offer graphic design services to make sure the writing work is enhanced by strategic graphic design that further emphasizes the written word.

So, as I embark on this journey, there is a lot to be thankful for - I am thankful that my career and life experiences have led me to this point. I am thankful for those who have trusted me with their projects thus far. And, I am thankful for where this work will lead me in the future.

I am looking forward to you being a part of my future!

"God will meet you where you are in order to take you where He wants you to go." - Tony Evans

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