What Is Deep Editing?

Shani Raja
A free video tutorial from Shani Raja
Ex-Wall Street Journal editor
4.5 instructor rating • 8 courses • 407,906 students

Lecture description

Where you will be introduced to the concept of deep editing

Learn more from the full course

Editing Mastery: How To Edit Writing To Perfection

The Deep Editing Secrets Of The World's Best Editors

06:28:07 of on-demand video • Updated May 2020

  • You will know how top editors do their magic
  • You will be able to professionally edit almost any type of nonfiction writing
  • You will improve your own writing exponentially
English Hello everyone and welcome to the course. I'm going to be teaching you how to become a masterful editor. And by that, I mean not just an ordinary editor but a masterful one. It means I'm going to be teaching you techniques that I'd say most people who call themselves editors don't really know. And I just have to say I'm really proud and excited about what I've created here because I know it's going to help you to reach new heights with your writing. Literally, you're going to be able to take almost any piece of writing however shoddy and really turn it into something that is quite quite magnificent. You see, there are various distinct stages when it comes to turning out a really great piece of writing, and this course is going to look at each of them in turn. I'm not going to leave anything out, so that by the end you really know everything there is to know about editing to perfection. Now, please understand that most people who call themselves editors are talking about maybe one or two of the levels or stages that I'm gonna be teaching you. Often they call themselves editors because they're capable of fixing grammar, punctuation, spelling, typos and things like that. They can take a piece of writing and go to work on it so that it's technically correct and reads better than it did before. But that's only a small part of what real editing actually involves. It's really just a very surface level approach to editing and I call it cosmetic editing. It's useful for putting, like, makeup on a piece of writing. If the writing itself is terrible, though, and badly organized, it amounts simply to putting lipstick on a pig. It might cover up the most obvious mistakes in there, but it will never turn the writing into something that's either powerful or pleasurable to read. Now, the fact is that as editors we're often confronted with writing that's really rambling or even chaotic, and that lacks any sense of order or direction. It's clunky to read and it's full of, like, duplication, inconsistencies, weak phrasing and longwindedness. And writing like that requires a much heavier edit than just dotting the i's and crossing the t's, as they say. Now, the trouble is most people don't really know how to go much beyond that. Sometimes they'll stare at a page seeing a problem and wondering what to do while they're editing but not really knowing what to do about it, and without the right editing tools they may even sort of wander around in the dark looking for solutions endlessly and sometimes they won't find any. So they'll leave the thing as it is, and at other times they won't really know if they've done a good job of editing it. They may be content that is better perhaps than it was when it started. But after the course you won't have any of those problems because I'll be giving you all the precise editing tools that you'll need so that you will know that you've done a good job every time with an edit. If you're editing for clients, say as a copy editor, those people who you're editing for will be really delighted by your workmanship. But this framework is also useful if you're just a writer and editing your own copy because you'll be able to bring your own writing up to a standard that others will appreciate so much more, even though they won't really understand what you how you did it. And so I just wanna explain what this deep editing technique is that I'm talking about. Deep editing is a framework for getting right under the bonnet of a piece of writing. It's a way of overhauling it from the ground up. And what I mean is that the framework I'll give you is going to empower you to fix up any type of writing, even if it's a complete mess. But it's not only for editing bad writing. This system is also going to help you to make an already good piece of writing into into a piece of writing that's great. It will put all the bells and whistles on it so that so that it sort of looks really professional and polished. Now I want you to understand that very few people know these methods. And among those people are seasoned editors on the major newspapers. I'm talking about the most senior editors in places like the Wall Street Journal and The Economist... places where I've also also worked. And the thing with these people is that they're brilliant at this process that I call deep editing. They use it all the time to make a piece of writing come to life and read really wonderfully. They may not all be conscious that they're using that system and they may not do it in stages in quite the formal way that I'm gonna show you. But in fact they are using all or most of the techniques either consciously or unconsciously. I'm going to teach you their exact methods. So once again what is this deep edit? Well, a deep edit has basically four stages. You edit first the content of the piece and you ask a bunch of relevant questions about that, then you edit the structure of the piece and you ask a different set of questions around that. And then you focus on the style of the piece and again another different set of questions surround that. And finally you focus on the presentation. And that again is another set of questions. Now once you've ticked each box in each of those categories you'll know that you've edited this thing as thoroughly as you possibly can. And with that much attention to detail you've literally left no stone unturned in the quest for quality. In fact you're going to have to the stamp of quality embedded in every single pore of the writing. So I want you to quickly see what you'll be able to do with this kind of knowledge. Imagine if you were presented with something like this to edit. Now, with this pizza story it's an example I have used before in other courses but I've scrambled it up here in a particular way because I think it's it's a useful one to to use two to play around with. Okay, an Australian pizza company that is the main franchise holder of the Domino's Pizza brand in Australia New Zealand France Japan and the Netherlands is planning to allow its customers in a world's first to track the journey of their pizzas on smartphones table computers and TV screens. The company is called Domino's Pizza Enterprises. Everyone knows it can be agonizing for people who love eating pizzas to wait for them to be delivered. But no more. Now with this new app you can see exactly where your delivery driver is on the journey to your home so you will know how close you are to your first mouthful. It is the first time such a services is available anywhere on the planet. The company says that when you're hungry but you know where your pizza is people waiting will be more patient... quote, in the delivery business it's a dark spot, said chief executive Don Meij said in an interview. Now it will be fully disclosed and transparent. Now that's a piece of writing that I've deliberately messed up just to just to test you. It's repetitive, it's dull, it's unclear in places, the grammar is off, the punctuation sucks... and I want you to have a go at editing it so that it's better. All right, then, I'll show you what you could do with it to make it read much better using the deep editing technique... which will get it looking more like this, which is a published article that I actually worked on together with a very good reporter at The Wall Street Journal that was already in pretty good shape, not like the messy sample that I showed you. And it was actually published in The Wall Street Journal. So here we have the same information that I gave you first time around, which you can get from the resources, just transformed by focusing on the four levels of editing that I'm going to teach you... content, structure, style and presentation. For hungry pizza lovers, waiting for a delivery can be a long and frustrating ordeal. Now, an Australian pizza company plans to make the torturous wait between placing your order and hearing the doorbell ring slightly less agonising. Domino's Pizza Enterprises, which holds the master franchise to the Domino's brand in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France and the Netherlands, said it would be the first company in the world to let customers track their pizza's journey to their doors on smartphones, tablets and TV screens. The theory is that famished consumers will be more patient when aware of exactly how close they are to their first mouthful... quote, in the delivery business it's a dark spot, Chief Executive Don Meij said in an interview. Now it will be fully disclosed and transparent. Now, I want you to notice how well-structured, flowing and colorful that is, and clean in terms of the punctuation, and so on. So, basically at the end of this course you will have the skills to be able to edit writing to that level, or something like it, if you're presented with the kind of mess that the original was, and it's gonna be possible after you learn this deep editing system that will help you to take almost any type of writing to the highest level.