Not all forms of editing are created equal. While any type of editing should improve your story, some forms of editing are more powerful, effective and less time-consuming than others.
Macro and Micro Editing:
This is where the idea of macro and micro edits come in. Macro edits refer to big-picture fixes. For instance, re-writing your climax, adding a new character or even changing your whole plot are examples of macro editing. In short, you’re editing your story on a large-scale.
Now that we’ve defined the differences between macro and micro editing, which one should we prioritise? If you’ve remember the title, you probably already know the answer: Macro editing.
Why? Well, macro editing is the big-picture stuff. Micro editing focus on small-scale things, which means it should come after the big things have been fixed. For example, if you proofread your entire first draft (a micro editing) but then need to change your plot (a macro edit), you’ve wasted a heck of a lot of time.
By contrast, doing macro edits before moving on to micro-editing things like spelling, punctuation and sentence flow will mean greater editing effectiveness. Sure, macro edits (like changing your entire plot) are usually harder than micro edits – but your story will benefit from you focussing on the macro.
What ‘Prioritising the Macro’ Looks Like:
- Edit the plot (macro) before worrying about spelling (micro)
- Change characters (macro) before worrying about fixing dialogue (micro)
- Refine your theme (macro) before worrying about pretty imagery (micro)
In general, your first few drafts will be all about macro (big-picture) issues. Once you solve these big-picture issues, then you can worry about little things (micro issues). As you move towards your final draft, you will move away from macro-editing towards micro-editing instead.
What are your thoughts on macro and micro editing? Have you ever over-focussed on micro edits and then realised you had macro issues to fix? Do you have a good approach to balancing macro/micro editing? I’d love to learn more about your process!