I’ve got my own way of editing and I divide the process into 3 rounds.
In the first round, I print out whatever it is I’m asked to edit. I don’t know how some people do it, but editing off a screen is not for me. (If you do this though, I’d love to know any tips you might have.) Then, I read the text from a to z and note down all the positive points, as well as the sections that need some work done.
At this stage, I rarely adjust anything but instead I like to get an impression of the text. Basically, if the overall impression is: ‘this needs a lot of adjustments for it to work’, then the chances of thoroughly editing it are close to nil. (Of course, as an editor, this isn’t always possible, in which case I take a deep breath and ready myself for round 2.)
In the second round, I pay attention to the content, focusing mainly on the development of the plot and on its credibility. I do the same for the characters: how they are introduced, how believable they are and what their motivations are for their actions. I look at the overall picture of the story and how well the mechanics are functioning.
In the third round, I focus on the voice and style of writing. The kind of language used, the word choices, metaphors and so forth all need to be adequate for the writing style and suitable for the story. Things like repetition of words or phrases and redundancies need to be eliminated. As a reader, these jar me and I start to question why I should continue reading… and I can’t imagine that’s what should happen. Of course, there are also the aspects of grammar and punctuation that I look at here as well.
These are the three rounds I focus on when editing through a text. I reckon there are many checklists editors can keep when editing. Personally, I find this website very helpful:
When I’m focusing on the language and style I find the following website very helpful (particularly the ‘Editing Checklist: Writing Style’ and the ‘description’):
If you have other links or tips feel free to share them.