Diamond in the rough. You’ve written a great first draft, you’ve had it critiqued by an impartial third party via the developmental edit, and you’ve recovered from all the criticism enough to reorganize and rewrite. It now has a much stronger structure and is certainly more beautiful for the reader to behold—a true diamond. But still a diamond in the rough. Why? Well, all the chapters and themes and flow have been optimized, but the sentences and words may still sound a little verbose, sloppy, or just plain confusing.
Enter the copy edit, the process that makes sure the driving force of your content doesn’t get impeded by the actual words and phrases used to deliver it. For me, this was the most involved step of the entire writing process, as my editor and I meticulously pored over every sentence to make sure 1) it said everything I wanted it to say, 2) it made sense, and 3) it hadn’t already been said unnecessarily somewhere else. Not always fun I admit—I’m pretty sure no one enjoys a good argument about exactly where to place a biblical citation or precisely when a statement becomes a run-on sentence—but there’s a reward at the end! For the first time, you finally get to behold your precious masterpiece in more or less the same form and length it will be when it is published! For the first time, you know that you are essentially done writing, and that is a fantastically good feeling!
I remember finishing my copy edit for Healing Hereafter, and because I’m kinda Type A, I’m sure my editor remembers it too! You just want to sit there and scroll up and down through the document, imagining with satisfaction how those very same words will appear on the printed page. You just want to take the night off and do whatever comes to mind, ‘cuz guess what? It ain’t gonna be writing! Your diamond in the rough has become a diamond. Now all you have to do is polish it…but that’s for next week.