15 Editing Tricks with Greg Ioannou

It’s unique for a person to be the first member of the Editors’ Association of Canada. According to Greg Ioannou, the key to this distinction was his participation in a 1979 meeting to create the association and become its first director of membership. This inside scoop was one tiny bit of information Greg shared with an enthusiastic crowd of WCYR members and guests at the November Zoom event.

Folks found it interesting that he has edited more than 2,000 works since starting his editing career in 1977, including books for Margaret Atwood, Peter Gzowski and Robertson Davies. Of course, he’s also a successful author and a publisher, so his audience required no prompting to pay attention and benefit from his years of experience and acquired wisdom about all things “writing.”

As expected, he shared his views on four different types of editing and the purposes they serve:

  • Substantive Editing (getting the overall structure, content, and flow right)
  • Line Editing (style and accuracy)
  • Copy Editing (polishing the prose and consistency)
  • Proofreading (catching the small details as a final step)

For an hour, Greg shared tricks to help every writer edit better by asking questions that ranged from:

Is the document aimed at a clearly defined readership, and will it meet the demands and needs of that readership?”


Despite the brilliant writing, does the author actually resolve the plot?”

He used examples from mysteries to erotic thrillers, unintentional humor, and the 70-page description of a party in Lord of the Rings to demonstrate what editors look for and what writers should remember as they craft their work.

Participants enjoyed his focus on approaching a story like a movie script, using dialog to tell the tale. Greg encouraged us to assess prized characters to see if they are really needed and serve the intended purpose. He also emphasized the importance of research, attention to subtle details (the colour of the lights on a Vancouver snowplow), and making each character’s voice distinctive and distinguishable from others.

This WCYR event came at a perfect time for me. This month is round three of editing for my next suspense thriller. For a good number of participants, the end of NaNoWriMo will be the start of another deep dive into editing. For all of us, the session underscored why many people believe the fundamental difference between a good story and an excellent product is the quality of editing—and a writer’s embrace of the suggestions put forward!

Upcoming Events:

Virtually Social: Chat Rooms and Games Rooms – December 5, 1:30pm to 4:00pm, FREE

The Book Coach: The Writer’s BFF with Jackie Brown – January 9, 1:30pm to 3:30pm

Scrivener for Beginners with Kim McDougall – January 20, 7:00pm to 9:00pm, FREE

Sprouting Your Own Green World with Paul Coccia – February 20, 1:30pm to 4:00pm

Gary D. McGugan is author of a trilogy of fast-paced novels of corporate intrigue—Three Weeks Less a Day, The Multima Scheme, and Unrelenting Peril. In April 2020, he released Pernicious Pursuit, an international thriller already earning positive reviews. He has been elected as Co-Chair of WCYR starting in September 2020.

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