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Editing

reading time: 5 mins
It’s your name on the cover. I don’t change your writing; I catch errors and perhaps find ways to strengthen your prose.
Cover of the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition
The most popular style guide in United States publishing.

In general, I use the Chicago Manual of Style as a style guide. But a style guide is not the law. Most of the “rules” cited casually in writing forums are really just suggestions. I follow your lead and strengthen what you’re already doing.

Types of Editing #

There are no hard lines to draw between the different types of editing. It’s all of a piece (which is this page is titled simply Editing ).  Just how much of what kind of editing I do depends upon what you’re looking for and what you need.

Copyediting #

Some people call this line editing, but the definitions of the two terms blur when you ask different editors, so I’ll keep it simple here and call it copyediting.

Most people agree that copyediting includes cleaning up grammar and typos, looking for consistency in spellings, hyphenated phrases, capitalizations, that kind of thing. Beyond that, I follow your lead and strengthen your style, work for consistency of voice, but how much I do varies. Before I start, we’ll discuss what you’re looking for.

What you get at the end is the manuscript document in Microsoft Word format with track changes enabled, which shows you everything I did. I may insert comments here and there to explain a suggestion or alert you to a potential problem.

I also will create a stylesheet that documents some of the stylistic conventions followed in the manuscript. (If you already have a stylesheet from a previous edit or the editor of another book, please do share it with me. We don’t want to be spending time and money reinventing the wheel.

Developmental Editing #

Developmental editing is basically substantive editing but without line edits. I stay out at the big-picture level because at this stage, there’s no point marking up the text when large parts of it will be rewritten or even cut. Instead, I write up a detailed analysis of the story in a separate report.

Manuscript Critique #

AKA “Beta Read Plus.” Think of this as a beta read plus—with a critical eye and a detailed report from which you can work on a new draft. This entails a much lighter process than editing. In this, I read your story as a reader, and give you my high-level assessment of what’s working, moments of missed opportunity, potential problems for you will want to look at in your next rewrite, questions about your characters. I will also answer 5–10 questions that you have about your manuscript. If you don’t have questions, I will encourage you to work some up. You’ll need to give them to be ahead of time so I can keep them in mind as I read.

Workshopping #

This involves everything, from the big-picture perspective (character development, story structure, dramatic tension, emotional engagement, world building, continuity, themes, genre conventions, and so on) down into text (authorial voice, writing style, punctuation and grammar, and suggesting edits).

This is the most hands-on intensive editing I do. What I focus on includes:

  • Dramatic tension. Does the story have a rhythm that builds reader anticipation?
  • Character development. Often a problematic area of the story can be because a piece is missing or underdeveloped in the character wants and needs.
  • World building. This applies especially in science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction.
  • Story structure.
  • Scenes / chapters / sequences that aren’t working and deflate the main tension, block the plot, sidetrack the focus.
  • Complementary story lines and subplots, and how effectively they interweave with main story.
  • Continuity. She had red hair on page 8, but it’s blonde two hours later on page 10. What happened to the knife he put in his pocket?
  • Light fact checking. Did that model radio exist in that year?
  • Does the ending work?
  • Missed opportunities.
  • Opportunities to cut.

Because this level of work is so involved, each round is limited to no more than 10,000 words. It might be chapters from a novel, or a shorty story you’re working on. This limit allows me to do the work justice and get it back to you in a reasonable timeframe.

Follow-up consulting #

I want you to feel comfortable with the work I do, so all editing projects include some time after it’s done to discuss my notes and your thoughts, cover any questions you may have, and clarify any points of confusion or concern.

My Areas of Specialty #

While I copyedit all kinds of fiction and trade nonfiction, I try to limit more involved editing to fiction, preferably in categories and genres I’m most familiar with: science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, women’s fiction, mystery, and literary fiction.

Stories are my passion. They come alive through words. Words bring color. Phrases beget sound. A paragraph evokes a memory. The clear voice carries us into another world. We understand our world through stories.

If I am not all that familiar with your genre, I will let you know in advance. My experience, expertise, and interests revolve around science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, literary fiction, and what the industry calls women’s fiction. Non-fiction interests delve into culture, the arts, technology, sciences, and history for the general reader.

(Note: While I will flag a factual error that leaps out at me, fact-checking is not part of my editing services.)

Rates #

I evaluate your manuscript before starting and give you a fixed bid based on your word count and how much editing work I’ll need to do.

If you think we might be a good fit but you’re still not sure, I offer a free sample edit of 500 words (two double-spaced pages). Contact me!