Different Types of Editing

Proofreading – Fiction and Nonfiction

The type of editing that will polish your finished manuscript is proofreading. Your proofreader will correct:

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Typographical errors
  • Verb tense/subject agreement
  • Pronouns and antecedents agreement

You do not need proofreading until you are finished with your manuscript. Proofreading a first draft is useless. Make sure you are ready to send your manuscript to the printer, then send it to your proofreader.

Copyediting – Fiction

This type of editing is essential to address technical flaws in your manuscript. It is similar to a proofread, but goes much deeper into the mechanics as well as the internal consistency. A proofreader won’t do this for you. Internal consistency is your plot, your characters’ traits (blue eyes in chapter 2 vs green eyes in chapter 7). The smoking gun syndrome that authors have when they make a big deal of a particular thing such as a letter, missing shoe, or a gun in the glove compartment, but it’s never mentioned again. Some copyeditors may bleed line editing into their editing, but copyediting and line editing are two different things.

Copyediting – Nonfiction

Basically the same as copyediting for fiction. The simple copyedit will put your manuscript in the proper style Chicago Manual of Style, APA style, AP style, or whatever style required depending on the market you are writing for (yes it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition if avoiding it makes the sentence too convoluted). A copyeditor that focuses on Christian writing will fact check your Scripture references, too, and help you make sure that what you’ve written is what you want to say. Bibliographies, abbreviations, foreign words, titles of military or academic or other titles, the list of possible technical flaws is endless, but your copyeditor will prove more worthy than gold to your manuscript.

Line editing – Fiction

Line editors will go through your manuscript line by line highlighting errors such as overused words, run-on sentences, and repeated information that does not move the plot along but bogs it down. Wishy-washy phrases, unnatural phrases, and passive verbs are highlighted. The line editor will also suggest ways to change narrative and/or dialogue to make it clearer, for better pacing, and words that will enhance your meaning. The line editor may correct some glaring errors if they jump out, but the focus is on consistency, clarity, fact checking, and pacing. Do not minimize the importance of fact checking. In fiction, modernisms in a tale of Old England will dam up the story flow. Research is a big deal when writing both in fiction as well as nonfiction. This, in essence, is developmental or substantive editing. But character development is different than line editing.

Line editing – Nonfiction

The basics are the same for nonfiction line editing as for fiction. However, for nonfiction the technical errors can be much more serious because your professional reputation is on the line (no pun intended, well, maybe). A line editor will help you make a passive sentence into dynamic emphasis. This type of editor will catch those phrases that sound too much like opinion without factual backup, argumentative statements, and slang that have no place in professional writing. The line editor is objective whereas the writer has an emotional attachment to the narrative. The editor will help make the article or book a fascinating work of astonishing brilliance that all your peers will be talking about for ages.

Character development editing – Fiction

No matter how good a writer you are, character development is difficult. Too often writers will think that throwing a handsome man and beautiful woman together will generate enough sparks that will explain why they fall in love. Not so. There are many attributes of humans that can cause interest, apathy, love, hate, friendship, disgust, etc. Knowing how to apply these to characters within the storyline is sometimes difficult especially when there are a lot of characters driving the story. Editing for character development focuses only on dialogue and character descriptions with suggestions on how to make the meaning of your amazing prose pop with emotions. This is why you fall in love with the hero, because even with flaws the character is worthy of love… or hate. That’s what a character analysis and edit will do for your story. A line editor that has character development experience is the crème de la crème.

Manuscript Critique or Review

This is not editing. A critique or review of your manuscript will tell you what is working in your story and what needs work in your story. The critique will dissect your story and characters without regard for any grammatical errors or typos. This is the kind of review that will help you to write a saleable work.