This week, we looked at manuscript appraisal and structured editing. These are to be done prior to any real proofing or editing.
Manuscript appraisal is the assessment of suitability to its intended audience. This happens immediately after submission by the author. The most important question to be asking yourself while appraising is: What steps do I need to take to get this ready for publishing? An editor will need to work with the author to achieve this.
Here is a Manuscript appraisal checklist.
Structured editing occurs after the manuscript has been appraised. It is about refining the work to be easy to follow by readers and includes layout, clarity and attention span.
Readers follow conventional patterns and it’s important the text does also. The manuscript needs to have plenty of context to aid the audience. Readers are most interested early on; they lag toward the middle and regain interest toward the end. This conventional pattern needs to be applied throughout the text; from chapters to paragraphs and sentences. If looking for specific information, a reader’s attention span is low and a table of contents and logical layout aid in maintaining your audience. Illustrations, quote boxes, sidebar glossaries etc, all help to present the information in a way to keep readers interested.
There are two types of structure: linear and non-linear. Linear structured text are a logical layout with a beginning and end. A book normally has a linear structure and the table of contents allows a reader to come and go on specific points they find interesting.
Non-linear writing is allows readers to jump in and out of the text as they wish, and is best suited to electronic writing like blogs and online articles. The use of hyperlinks allows readers to find the information they want more easily.
There are two types of patterns of manuscripts: inductive and deductive.
Inductive patterns introduce, explain, summarise and recommend in a logical order. A story or textbook uses this pattern.
Deductive patterns sum up a view at the start, and then presents an argument to support it. A scholarly journal uses this pattern.
Visual structure is also important, including headings and text boxes. Captions and quotes along with bullet points all make information easier to read.
Finally copyright and rights management. Of course, this is such a sticky situation these days, particularly with copyright laws being archaic compared to the technological world we live in. Here they are summarised.