Think about the meaning of the word ‘marking’. We literally put marks on a child’s writing. Those marks serve a number of purposes: to guide, to structure, to encourage, to correct, to edit. What we’re really after is for writers of whatever age to learn to edit their own writing. They will need to put in time and hard work, but this process can start right from the word ‘go’. When teachers put marks on a child’s work, they edit it alongside the child. Marking (in language-based subjects) is about the different kinds of Edit.
The Developmental Edit: This is a total makeover. If the writing is a mess, or the ideas don’t work, it can be hard to know where to start. This marking takes a long time to do, and it is complicated for a writer to process. Extensive feedback is best given verbally.
The Copy Edit: This is the tweaking phase. You help the writer get the grammar ‘right’. You ensure a consistent style. You challenge assumptions or ask for facts to be verified.
Proof Reading: This is the final stage. Make the writing perfect. Copy editing marks are a great shorthand between writer and editor (and child and teacher). Hunt down spelling mistakes, punctuation errors or typos. Locate anything that might get in between the reader and the writing. Everything must go.
A Commissioning Editor asks you to do the writing in the first place, and works with you to decide on the best focus and structure. This is the person who suggests a title, or a subject area that will inspire you to write. The Teacher basically. The best writer/editor and teacher/child relationships involve warm encouragement, the sharing of ideas and a reach for perfection. I love to work alongside an Editor to put a book or an article together. Editing is a dialogue between writers. So don’t call it marking. You are The Editors.
The October #blogsync asked for ‘An example of marking that has true impact.‘ I would like to offer the work of my Editors over the years as that example, with many thanks to them all.