Editing an independent comic book is a complex and multi-layered process, requiring attention to detail and a keen understanding of storytelling. And let’s face it… A lot of creatives are great at pumping out our interesting ideas but not so great at editing their final product. Hiring a professional editor is always the best idea, but finances don’t always allow for hiring an expert. When you have to do it yourself, it’s best to follow a tried and true process.
The editing process can be broken down into four main stages: structural editing, copy editing, proofreading, and page proofs.
1. Structural Editing (Developmental Editing)
This is the first and most crucial step in the editing process. Structural editing involves looking at the comic as a whole to ensure the story flows logically and cohesively. It is during this phase that major changes can be made to the plot, character development, and pacing. For indie comic creators, it’s advisable to have the full story arc of multiple issues written out. This broader perspective makes it easier to identify and fix structural issues early on, ensuring a consistent and engaging narrative throughout the series.
2. Copy Editing (Line-by-Line Editing)
Once the structure is solidified, the next step is copy editing. This stage is often referred to as line-by-line editing because it involves going through the manuscript in detail, focusing on language use, dialogue, and visual-textual alignment. The goal here is to refine the language, ensuring clarity, tone, and style are consistent. This stage is crucial for maintaining the voice of the characters and the overall narrative.
Proofreading is the process of meticulously reviewing the final draft before it goes into layout. This is where you correct minor errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It’s often helpful to have a fresh set of eyes for this part of the process, as it can be challenging to spot minor mistakes in a work you’re very familiar with. Proofreading ensures the professionalism and readability of the comic.
4. Page Proofs
The final stage is examining the page proofs. This is the last opportunity to catch any remaining typos or errors in the ‘ready to print’ digital pages. It’s essential to check not only the text but also the layout, panel transitions, and overall visual coherence of the pages. This step ensures that the comic is polished and error-free before it goes to print.
- Feedback: Engage with beta readers or a trusted critique group to gain external perspectives on your work.
- Professional Help: Consider hiring a professional editor, especially if you’re new to comic writing. They can provide invaluable insights and expertise.
- Software Tools: Utilize editing and proofreading software to catch common errors, but don’t rely solely on them.
- Rest and Distance: Sometimes, taking a break from your work can provide new insights and perspectives when you return to it.
By adhering to these four editing stages, creators can improve the quality of their work, ensuring that their story is communicated clearly and effectively to readers.