So, how does editing work?
The boxes below provide a general description of the editing process in the correct order. Of course, the writing comes first and for that you may need a writing coach to help develop your concept. These brief descriptions may help you determine what part of the editing process you require for your manuscript.
Developmental (structural) editing takes a macro-level look at your writing.
- Sharpening content into a focused thesis (eliminating distracting secondary themes)
- Reorganizing the whole if necessary to ensure continuity, clarity, and a fluid narrative arc
- Restructuring paragraphs and chapters to improve cadence and enhance the reader experience
- Adding or deleting headings
- Identifying areas that need reduction or expansion
- Generating a comprehensive overview of manuscript areas that need attention
- Offering guidance in creating the perfect title.
Line (stylistic/substantive) editing enhances the writing to ensure target audiences receive the intended message in the required style.
- General correcting of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos
- Laying out of dialogue, paragraphs, and headings
- Checking style and clarity for the target audience
- Checking consistency of language, clarity, and style
- Tightening the plot
- Improving characterization, dialogue, and setting
- Retaining the author’s voice and meaning.
When I copy edit your work, I intend to polish it for publication.
- Correcting of typos, spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Correcting of hyphens, en-dashes, em-dashes and ellipses
- Offering suggestions to assist better word choice and sentence construction
- Addressing passive voice, wordiness, and clarity
- Checking conformity to style guide.
Proofreading happens after the last edit to catch that wily comma or sneaky typo in the print proofs.
- Checking for minor errors in spelling, punctuation and spacing
- Correcting minor errors in grammar and word usage
- Ensuring the text has the proper layout
- Correcting awkward word or page breaks.
Beta reading provides another set of fresh eyes to see what you AND your editor missed.
- Another view from the top down
- Capture of plot holes
- Identification of a “saggy middle”
- Honest feedback on shortcomings.
As you can see, there is a sequence to the editing process but it can be nonlinear. For example, beta reading can fit anywhere between developmental editing and proofreading. Because each step builds on the previous one, it is, for example, pointless to pay for proofreading before your manuscript has been edited since a line edit may reorganize entire lines and a developmental edit could move entire pages.
You may not need every one of these steps or you may desire other services such as manuscript critique, beta readers, or a plot review.
Let’s talk more about what you need.