Recently, there have been a lot of computerized editing programs cropping up, which is all well and good, but they can’t replace human editors. I read…a lot…and lately, I’ve found a lot of errors that could have been prevented by a human pair of eyes looking at it. I’ve been reading books that are rife with errors lately, and while that alone doesn’t prevent me from reading or continuing with them, it does make me think twice about picking up another one. The errors made, though, aren’t errors in spelling, so they have been run through a spell checker, but they are errors nonetheless. Below are five reasons a human editor is better than a computerized editor:
- They know the difference between accept and except. Homophones are usually not caught by the computer because they are spelled correctly, but most will be caught by a human editor.
- Human editors know when you misspell something on purpose or spell things phonetically on purpose. A computer doesn’t.
- Human editors understand logical construction and consistency. I just saw a person’s last name spelled three different ways in a book. While a computer would let that slide, most editors would catch that. A human editor would catch if someone had a normal gesture and then used a radically different gesture for the same emotion another time.
- Human editors can ask clarifying questions and make the author think. If there is something an editor doesn’t understand or it isn’t clear to them, it’s almost certain readers would have the same issues. Those issues can be caught by an editor before it ever goes to print.
- Human editors can explain what they mean when they have editing remarks. Sometimes, an edit from a computer will say passive, but that doesn’t explain what passive is. Computers don’t know what “show, don’t tell” means, and they can’t tell you if there is a lack of clarity in the story, but a human editor can, and they can also explain how to fix them.
While this isn’t a comprehensive list of what editors can do, it is a good summation. Please, also remember that human editors are, well, human. While they do help to catch things that were missed, help to clarify your story, help to make it more professional, etc., they will miss things. Each editor is different as well, so one pet peeve from an editor doesn’t necessarily translate to what another editor dislikes, so be patient, find an editor that has the same goals you have in mind, and try to enjoy the process.