This is like a foreign language to veteran editors who are convinced they’ve forgotten more about editing than most of these young whippersnappers will ever know. CopyEditing.com proposes that all of us who wield a red pen can find ways to get better. Money quote:

markupI learned more by reading over one redlined edit by a masterful copyeditor colleague* than I did by all the studying and training of earlier years. The edits were beautiful — needful and simple and elegant. I was surprised again and again. My best advice for copyeditors seeking training or further development of their skills: get a peep at a master editor’s tracked changes.

(Emphasis mine).

I would add a twist on this: write a few paragraphs on some topic dear to your heart and hand it in to the most grizzled veteran editor you know, and insist that your feelings not be spared.

Then you’ll know what writers feel like when their precious prose is Track-Changed to within an inch of its life. When I turn in heavily marked-up copy, I try to remind myself to reassure the writer that things are not as bad as they look, and not only because Track Changes notes every time you erase an extra blank space.

Track Changes is also there to remind you that you might’ve gotten a little too heavy-handed — not that we know anybody who’s ever done that.

One thing for indies to remember: asking for somebody’s marked-up copy can be complicated by copyrights, permissions, competitive issues and other stuff that makes lawyers breathe heavy.

By the way, Copyediting.com’s lead blogger is Dawn McIlvain Stahl, last seen in my post on how to handle that all-important first freelance editing client.