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An edit is essentially a version of a work that is changed in some way from a previous version of the work. The edit could have been done to improve general quality. Or, it could have also be done to suit a specific purpose, such as when a song is edited for the purposes of airing it on the radio. The term edit is also often used as a verb, in which case it simply refers to the process of producing an edit. 

What is an edit?

The literary term edit seems to be a relatively obvious one. But could you clearly define it, if someone asked you to do so? The term edit basically refers to the process of going over a draft of a work of art in order to make revisions for the better. This includes both minor revisions such as fixing typos to major revisions such as changing the entire structure of a work. For example, Ultius offers various editing services where writers can make minor changes and add comments to work submitted by customers.

Usage in sentences

So that you can more clearly understand the meaning of the term edit, here are a couple sentences where the term is used in a natural way. 

"The professor told the student that although he had some good ideas, he would need to seriously edit the essay if he hoped to get a good grade in the class."

"The writer resented being told to edit the work, because he believed that the editor simply did not understand his (the writer's) creative vision."

"The screenwriter performed one edit after another on his script—until finally, he found a movie study that was willing to turn his work into a full-fledged film." 

Just in case you want more clarification about how to use the term edit properly, here are a couple rules for your reference. 

1. The term edit is generally used as both a verb and as a noun. For example, you could be told by your professor "to edit" your paper; or, you could also be told to perform "an edit" on your paper. Both of these phrases pretty much mean the same thing. You just need to be careful to use the right one relative to the structure of the specific sentence you are writing. 

2. To edit a work of art usually means changing it in some way for some purpose or another. However, an alternative usage is when someone is asked to "edit" a book. This can mean fixing up or revising a book; but it can also refer to bringing together various articles or essays into a single volume for the first time. However, this is never called "an edit" in noun form. The person who does it is called the editor, and it can only be said that he "edited" (verb form) the volume. 

Practical application

Usually, an edit can be conducted for two main reasons. The first is that the artist himself may be unhappy with his/her work. In this case, s/he will likely compose a new draft; and this draft could then be called an edit. The second, though, is that someone else may ask the artist to perform an edit. This could be because something the artist has said is offensive to the audience, or just simply because of the belief that what the artist has done would have no market value. 

In this latter case, the concept of the edit calls up the question of aesthetic integrity. Depending on how one understands the vocation of the artist, the artist agreeing to an edit could be seen (at least sometimes) as a kind of "selling out". For example, if James Joyce had agreed to edit out some of the raunchier scenes in his novel Ulysses, then this would be an example of a great artist giving in to the masses' lack of aesthetic appreciation.

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