Prereading, proofreading, and editing. Perhaps you've done some of these or had it done to one of your stories. These terms have been tossed around before, often interchangibly, but one doesn't exactly mean the same thing as another. True, there are similarities between the three, but there are vast differences as well. It'd probably be best for me right now to give a breif description of each, which will then be expanded on later.Prereading
is when someone is just a prereader,
meaning they read a story before anyone else, before it gets published to the masses. A prereader often gives the author tidbits of information, like what parts of a story they found interesting or just didn't like. But this information isn't necessarily helpful, and it doesn't have to nor should it be expected to.Proofreading
is when someone acts like a prereader, but they do more; instead of just reading they proofread
the story for errors within the text. Whether they be grammatical, technical, or just things for the author to consider, the comments a proofreader leaves are to help the fluidy of the text, making the story clean of errors and thus easier to read before being published.Editing
is when someone goes beyond proofreading, getting themselves inside the author's head to make sure there are no faults in the story itself, not just in the text. An Editor
is, in a sense, like a second author or more accurately a sub-author. Whatever an editor does often has profound influence on the story, anything from changing an ordering of events to even introducing and removing scenes or motifs. Of course everything is up to the author on whether or not any of that happens, and an editor does not do any writing themselves, nonetheless they make sure the author takes the story down its intended path and offers input for the greater good of the story being told.
I would like to go the record to say that I do not work for Equestria Daily, the Training Grounds, or whatever similar public service there is because I know I'll be bringing them up. All my proofreading and editing takes place privately within a close inner circle of friends. Nonetheless, it just about always
helps for an author to get another set of eyes on whatever they're writing, if not for the writer's sake but the story being written. Any help at all is something to be thankful for, and the fact that someone would take the time to go over your horse words about Twilight doing horse things is something awesome. This sort of heirarchy of eyes—prereading being the most basic, editing the most complex, and proofreading arguably the most common—lies entirely on the author of the story being looked at, and how comfortable the author is with having someone take a look at their work. It's entirely understandable for an author to be apprehensive when it comes to having someone take a look at their stuff, and there's countless reasons as to why an author would think that. Hell, I used to think like that. I'm pretty sure most everyone thought having another set of eyes was unnecessary at some point, and I'd be willing to bet a good number still do. Not to say there's anything wrong with an author working alone, nor am I saying every author is incapable of doing so, but the story's sake is always in jeopardy and the more people who provide input, the more marginalized that jeopardy can become.
We work on an honor system here in fanfiction, no doubt about that. Peoples' trust has to be earned, and oftentimes it's only dear friends that an author lets take a gander at their story before publication. But I don't think I can properly express let alone stress the importance of having confident prereaders, proofreaders, and editors. What an author sees in their head is not what always gets translated to paper, and having other people being there to point out the overlooked descriptions and errors is never a bad thing. An author can only do so much, and no amount of self-checking will rough out all the kinks here in the fanfiction realm where, debateably, we are all amatuers. All too often I see authors rush their story simply because the people they do trust were unavailable at the time, and they felt a sense of complusion to get the next chapter updated, but in doing so left glaring mistakes behind, and what's worse is that they tend to go unchecked. Don't be afraid the seek out prereaders, proofreaders, or editors that will stand by you, even if it's a simple blog post begging for help. There are many groups on Fimfiction and threads here on MLPchan and
on Ponychan dedicated to that.
Now for a bit of a more indepth look-see. Keep in mind, please, that the author gets the final say in whatever changes are made to the story.Prereading
Prereaders are the most basic, most simple, most easily accessible people an author can find. But they do not nor should ever be expected to give the more than most basic, most simple responses if any at all. Anyone can preread since all they're pretty much saying is whether they liked a story or not. Hell, in the real world of original fiction an author would be lucky to get anything from a publisher other than a yes/no answer. Here with fanfiction the authors are their own publishers because there are no real hoops to jump through. A story can literally go from a document to being published on the internet in under a minute. But with highlighting websites such as Equestria Daily, however, things are a bit more difficult. There, stories have to be submitted before publication and there are a rules that, with rare exception, must be followed. Proofreading
Need I remind people that they are called Equestria Daily prereaders and not Equestria Daily proofreaders or editors? There specifically, and even with fimfiction, an author shouldn't expect anything more than a yes/no answer when it comes to their story's publication. To recieve any sort of reason for why a story was rejected, even something as vague as "too many comma splices" should be taken as a miracle. It's not their job to tell an author what's wrong with their story, but it is their job to present to the fandom the best written works the fandom has to offer.
In that regard, Equestria Daily should, in my honest opinion, be used as nothing more than a tool. They have standards, and if your story passes than cool beans, you might be doing something right when it comes to writing. Popularity and ratings are all completely moot, and if an author's reasoning is just to get their face on the front page than perhaps they ought to consider why they're writing.
Proofreading is by far and away likely the most common way someone looks at a story, predominately because the main reason for having somebody look at your story beforehand in the first place is to check it for errors. Google Documents has become and esteemed must-use in the case of proofreading, because of the handy ability to highlight the errors themeselves, but it has faded away from being the medium read a story in favor of Fimfiction. Just be wary of transfering text from GDocs to Fimfiction, because the converter's a bit wonky at times and the BBCode does not directly copy.Editing
The Training Grounds is where one can find a lot of proofreaders. Although, just like with Equestria Daily, paitence is a virtue. These people are volunteers and are not paid to do a good job. I'll admit to it myself: proofreaders miss things. A proofreader can tend to miss a lot of things. As such, I'd recommend getting three or four of them that you can count on, people you've grown to become friends with in the fandom (You should have friends. Do you even watch the show?) just to be sure, more even if what's being written is some grand epic, but even one is a helpful lot. The more the merrier, after all.
Editing is the most difficult of the three types, but it's also the most rewarding. Anyone would be lucky to have just even one truth be told, as they are few and far between. Not to say that there aren't any out there, but a good, trustworthy, reliable editor is hard to come by. They're the people an author loves to hate, looking over your shoulder and constantly smacking you on the head, telling you what you did wrong and sighing pitifully when it happens again. Being an editor opens yourself up to spoilers, spoilers that need to be told, and the sooner the better. If an editor is unwilling to open up to spoilers, then they will fail as an editor. An author essentially has to tell the story before it's actually written, down to just about every twist and significant evernt, ending included. If that fails to happen the editor becomes just a humble proofreader. Having an editor in sync with the author helps the two walk the story to its desired conclusion, hitting every target along the way. An editor should know what an author wants and makes sure that the author doesn't veer off course, makes sure that everything introduced is utilized else be scraped and nothing gets left behind.
Editors are a dime a dozen, and to be honest I wouldn't trust anyone to act as my editor unless they're the closest of friends. In my opinion and editor is best when they enjoy the story being told and want to see it just as completed as the author does. I don't think I can sum up what editing is other than being a second author, but just doesn't do any writing.
Something else to note is that I would highly recommend for anyone to get into proofreading themselves, especially when doing so with others. You'll learn so much it's amazing. In case you haven't learned by now, I don't proofread these posts. I'm lazy like that.
Guh, second series down. Looks like there was a little squabble over second-person perspective, and believe that's my fault. I think I called it a "tense" rather than a form of narration. I should fix that.
Narration is all about the perspective; first being the reader is seeing everything through the character's eyes, second being the reader is actually the character like they're the part of the story, and lastly third being the classic over-the-shoulder. Tense, however, isn't how the story is being told but from what time frame. Present tense is in the now (Rarity is walking home) and past tense is, well, in the past (Rarity walked home). Future tense (Rarity will walk home) is so rare and seldom used well that's not really worth even attempting, unless best told that way of course.
This post was edited by its author on .