Editing Tip #6: Prioritise Macro Edits over Micro Edits

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.

Micro-edits refer to smaller, more minute changes. Some examples of micro editing are: checking for spelling errors, cutting redundancies or deleting overused phrases.

Effective Editing:

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)

Conclusion:

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!

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5 thoughts on “Editing Tip #6: Prioritise Macro Edits over Micro Edits

  1. I haaaate macro editing.
    Smaller details, I’m good at. Overhauling the story I’ve come to love? It’s hard. I struggle to let go of what I have 😦 I’ve only reached the editing stage on one book so far, and I had to put it down for four+ years before I could re-envision my plot holes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Macro editing sure sucks, but like vegetables, it’s good for you :). I suppose it’s the fact that there’s more pressure involved with changing characters, plots or making new scenes – proofreading, on the other hand, is easy! Good luck with your edits!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As my stories are character-driven, I’m definitely a fan of macro editing. Despite having outlines and scene lists, new characters introduce themselves throughout my WIPs all the time. To me, it’s exciting! I mark that point and continue on, making notes along the way. When I begin the first revision, that’s when I return to my notes and the story before the new character(s) appeared to plant seeds and make sure their existence is seamless. Then Beta-readers let me know if I pulled it off! LOL!

    Can’t live without micro-editing either. It’s how I found I’d used ‘that’… 565 times in an 80K MS. *Shaking my head* 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting! I suppose macro-editing has more in common with the creative, fun process of writing first drafts, whereas micro editing is more analytical and ‘dry’ by comparison. Coming from a background in academic writing, I find micro-editing easier, and love getting to the stage where my ‘big picture’ stuff is sorted and only little tweaks are needed. Thanks for the reblog!

      Liked by 1 person

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