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What is the difference between revising and editing? This article will help hopefully help you understand the different changes you will make to your novel before you are ready to submit it to be published.

Revising and Editing Difference


While the words revise and edit are often used interchangeably, the two are actually not the same thing.  In this article we will go over the key differences to help you understand more about the writing process to prepare for publishing.

Here are the main differences between revising and editing:

What the Editing Process Includes

When editing a manuscript, only the structure of writing is corrected. These are minor changes that include:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Sentence structure

When editing, your overall story remains exactly the same – you are simply fixing mistakes you have made while writing it, such as typos, grammar errors, and spelling mistakes.

Editing is usually something you will want to have someone else do. Even if you are a great writer, mistakes happen. You do not want to let a simple mistake stop your manuscript from being published!

editing in writing

Ideally, your editor should have a fine eye for detail and be a stickler for grammar and punctuation.

Imagine the strictest, scariest English teacher you ever had as a kid. This exactly who you should want to have as your editor! {Although, don’t let the grammar police ruin a good book! As Pablo Picasso once said: learn the rules so you can break them effectively!}

What the Revising Process Includes:

When revising your manuscript, you are changing the meaning or way in which the reader perceives, experiences and interprets it. This can be accomplished by:

  • adding new thoughts
  • clarifying existing thoughts
  • choosing more descriptive words
  • improving overall understanding of ideas presented
  • enhancing character development
  • adding more detail
  • eliminating unnecessary elements

When revising your manuscript you are literally conducting a re-VISION of your previous work to make your story stronger and improve clarity to your readers.

Think of revising like adding special effects to photos – it is something provides clarity and enhances your writing.

Revising your novel is a lot more involved than editing, and usually happens before the final edit. This is a process you as the writer will actually do most of yourself. However, it can be very beneficial to have a writers group or other trusted person help you identify any weak points in your manuscript.

During the revision process, it is usually a good idea to make sure your writing style matches the goal and purpose of your written piece. Depending on what you may be writing, you will want to make sure your writing contains all the necessary elements to effectively convey your message.

Most books all have their weak points, and by revising, you can help make those weaker points into stronger elements that will help your book become a more cohesive work.

Yes, Your Book Will Need Both Editing AND Revising!

Revising and editing are both equally important when it comes to preparing a manuscript for submission to an editor. Trying to lump them both together in one step can cause a lot of confusion, and quite possibly even more errors.

Nothing will make an editor drop a manuscript into the rejection pile faster than weak characters, irrelevant details and incomplete thoughts.

At the same time, there is nothing that makes an editor cringe more than a manuscript full of punctuation errors and spelling mistakes.

Bottom Line: Yes, You NEED BOTH!

You must both revise and edit your work to make it the best it can be prior to sending it off to a publishing house. Even if you are self publishing, you still need revising and editing, as it helps your final book be far more polished and helps you establish authority as an author.

We hope this article on the differences between revising and editing are helpful for you. While they both seem quite similar, you can see how they are actually different, and both very important to the final process of getting your book published.

Do you have any questions about the differences between writing and editing? Questions are always welcome below!

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  1. Thanks for the clarification. I suppose then that revision can come in at any time or must it come after the entire manuscript has been edited?

    1. Generally at first it’s best to just write it all out – revising can happen at either point or sometimes happens together with editing – when creativity flows, it’s best to just go with it!

  2. Hi,
    I have a book written.
    Still in the manuscript. Is a story about myself am only looking out for a reliable publisher and marketer to handle it,
    Florence Numa.

  3. This is not a question. It is a statement: I have a book in process, years ago , a friend of the family Set herself a n Editor so I gave her my manuscript to edit. I have a certain writing style,
    which her editing ruined. The woman didn’t get it. I never gave her the manuscript back.
    I never have tried another editor since.. What do think I should have done differently?

    1. Hi Meg!

      I think the red light for me is the moment you wrote “friend of the family”. Sometimes friends and business don’t always mix! I would recommend taking some time to interview with different editors and learn about their services. Be sure you have clear expectations on what they will and will not do for you. An editor should only be sharing suggestions to improve spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Depending on your writing style, you may not want proper grammar. These are things that a good editor will understand.

      You may also want to join a writing group near you. Sometimes it is good to get honest feedback from others. This can help you determine if maybe it was just that one particular person or if your book would benefit from some major revisions. They also can be very supportive for finding someone you trust to edit or revise your work.

      I hope that helps and hope to see your book soon!

    1. Hi Saheb, for me brainstorming usually falls somewhere in the planning process.
      You can find some resources for this on our website in these posts:

      How to Mind Map Your Novel
      How to Avoid Over Planning Your Novel

      Hope that helps and thank you for a great question!

  4. Solidly done —- nice ! I will use this article for my grade 5 L.A class today, in fact ; they can read it with me without undue effort.
    Thanks much !


  5. An excellent clarification, which should be referred to revise and edit our writings.

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