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Which editing style is right for my manuscript?

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

Guest blog post by Caroline Stainburn

So, you’ve finished the first draft of your book; what now?

You’ve probably heard somewhere along the way that everyone needs an editor, and that’s true.

Even the best of us cannot edit our own work. It’s near on impossible to be subjective about your

writing. We all see what we want to see and become ‘word blind’, so to speak. So now you have to wade through the minefield and decide what kind of editing you need or want. Now’s the time to be realistic; you want your story to be the best it possibly can be.

There are lots of different kinds of editing available to you generally, but the main three are;

developmental editing, line editing and copy editing. So, which one is right for you?

What is devlopmental editing?

Developmental editing consists of a complete evaluation of your manuscript. This will tell you what’s working and what’s not when it comes to the basics of your story: plot, character development, dialogue and setting. A development editor will point out exactly where your story falls short. This may be in the guise of a full editorial memo or just a brief annotation throughout your MS to show where improvements could be made.

Not every author will need this in-depth style of editing, though. If you’re confident that your plot,

character development and clarity of your story work well, then this style of editing may not be for you. That said, you need to be honest with yourself. Additionally, if you’re new to writing, a

developmental edit can be hugely beneficial.

What is line editing?

Line editing gets its name because your editor will go through your manuscript line by line and fine-tune your words. Your editor should examine each word choice, the impact of your writing and help you to polish your work so that it’s clear and concise. Many authors make the mistake of being too ‘wordy’ when writing, for example, using twenty words when ten will do. A good editor will help you eliminate that and ensure your writing is meaningful, clear and eloquent.

The best candidates for line editing are those amongst us that aren’t confident they’ve made the

correct style choices throughout their manuscript, or perhaps some of your scenes don’t flow the way you want them to. A line edit would help massively!

What is copy editing?

Copy editing includes making corrections to spelling, punctuation and grammar. However, the editor generally focuses on enhancing the overall quality of the writing. For example, they’ll ensure you use an active voice instead of passive and that you avoid overly long or awkward phrasing or sentences. A copy editor should also make sure that the tone and style of the writing are consistent and appropriate for your target audience.

Now, every book should go through copy editing. It’s an extremely useful tool for all writers and

authors. As I said at the start, we all think we don’t make silly mistakes, but we do. It doesn’t matter how often you read through your manuscript; you will miss vital corrections.

Many indie authors offer their books to a trusted group of beta readers, and this is great for helping you to spot many of those easy-to-miss mistakes in your writing. Especially if you use several readers at once.

There is lots of overlapping with all editing services on offer to you, so it’s essential you know exactly what the editor you choose is offering you. Most will provide you with a free sample edit so you can make an informed decision; it’s important you’re both singing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak. You want someone who will remain true to your writing style.

As an editor, I offer a combined service. My edits include aspects of all the above editing styles so that I can provide you with an all-round service. I offer lots of solutions along the way too in note form for you, so hopefully, the editing process is a lot less daunting!

In conclusion, a good editor is a vital commodity and will help your writing in the long run. We’re all tempted to think we can juggle all the balls all the time, but it helps to acknowledge that we all need help to put out the best book possible.

A Little about our guest blogger

Caroline Stainburn from Word Wizard Editing.

As an independent author, I know how expensive getting your manuscript published can be. Over the years I've worked with several professional proofreaders, editors, and beta readers. Finding someone who you connect with and feel you can work with can be hard. I am qualified to distinction level, and I specialise in spotting even the most minor errors that are easily overlooked. My aim is to provide a service you can customise to your needs and budget. If you can't see the service you require, please just ask.

How to contact Caroline Stainburn

Caroline is available on Facebook, Twitter and via her website.

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