The Writing Process
To evaluate what your project needs, consider the steps in the writing process:
Pre-writing. In this stage, brainstorm, make notes, and possibly create an outline of the material you wish to write. While many writers find an outline necessary, not everyone finds an outline helpful.
First Draft. Write (or type, of course) all the content you are aware of at this point as quickly as possible without stopping to correct anything.
First Review. After taking a short break, review your work, making notes for improvements and/or additions on a separate page or in a separate file. Concentrate on the “big picture” items. For nonfiction works, focus on the organization of the material, the persuasiveness of the text, and additional writing needed. For fiction, focus on plot, structure, and characterization.
You have options at this stage: complete the review yourself alone; ask colleagues to review your draft; hire a professional to critique your work; or choose any combination of these. However, even if you have help, don’t skip reviewing your own work as well; you know best the content and tone you want to communicate.
Content Edit. (Also called “Substantive Edit.” Some writers call this stage “Second Draft.”) Make the “big picture” changes you decided upon in your First Review.
Second Review. Same as First Review.
Complete as many rounds of content editing as necessary until you are certain you have included the appropriate content to convey your message or story.
Copy Editing. Complete a close line-by-line edit of the entire manuscript correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, and wording for accuracy, clarity, consistency, and effectiveness.
Proofreading. Complete a final thorough line-by-line check for accuracy of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting before the material is sent to your printer, publisher, or agent.