Writing a great story is only the first step. I can be your partner and help you ensure your book is ready for publication and that you make a great first impression on new readers while keeping your existing fans happy. All edits are made utilizing Word’s Track Changes and Comments features. That leaves ultimate control in your hands while at the same time letting you see my changes. I also tend to explain my changes as well as making “reader” comments regarding the story itself. My authors often say the comments in my edits are the best part of the process. 🙂
Ideally, major story points have been solidified by this point. Now we’re at the polish stage. We want to go through the manuscript line by line (hence the term line editing), really honing everything for both message and emotion, but at the same time preserving your unique voice. You can think of a project as being somewhat similar to building a house. You’ve drawn up the plans and major construction is complete. During content edits, major structural changes are implemented. Line edits are where you go in and do your interior design. Copy edits make sure everything is up to code, and finally, your proofreader makes sure there’s not a pile of drywall and nails in your front yard. 🙂 For more about the editing process, feel free to check out my article on what to expect during the editing process.
Things I Look For
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Showing vs. Telling
I’ll flag areas where you can make the narrative stronger, draw your readers into the story rather than have them just be spectators.
This can apply in a lot of different areas. One focus is your characters. If the hero’s best friend has been altruistic throughout the story, it’s going to seem jarring if he’s suddenly a greedy little slimeball (unless you foreshadow that 🙂 ).
Another consistency issue is the placement of people and props. If your heroine has both hands full, how is she picking up her cell phone? Did she pick up her purse two pages ago? Did Joe go to work and now he’s in the bedroom?
I do not do in-depth fact-checking. I’m not going to look up what the temperature high was for July 5th, 1890. 🙂 However, I will check spellings of brands, spellings of businesses, street names, etc. I will also double-check statements that set off my Spidey Sense, such as whether or not you’ll actually bleed out in less than a minute if your femoral artery is severed, does a Remington 870 shotgun hold twelve shells, and does a yellow-cake recipe call for eight eggs.
Dialog is probably one of the biggest things that can set a book apart. Dialog defines your characters, it moves the plot, and it’s what makes your readers identify with the story. As such, you want it to sound organic and natural, not forced or stilted.
How your dialog is structured is important, too. You want the reader’s focus to be on what’s being said, and you want them to effortlessly follow the conversation, not struggle to keep up or figure out who’s speaking.
And, finally, are your dialog tags used efficiently? Where can action tags serve better? Where is a dialog tag necessary for clarity?
Overuse of Adjectives and Adverbs
There’s nothing wrong with either an adjective or an adverb, but sometimes less is more. You can bog down your narrative with multiple weak modifiers when one or two stronger words would really shine.
Echoes of Word and Phrase
This can apply to repeated words within a short amount of time, a character’s obsession with an object in a scene, or a concept that’s reiterated throughout the book. Sometimes it’s simply a sentence that is similar to another elsewhere in the narrative. Regardless, it’s something I’ll keep an eye out for.
Sequencing of Action and Tense Issues
Sometimes we’ll have characters performing actions out of order or out of tense. “Walking to the fridge, she washed her bowl in the sink.” She can’t walk to the fridge and wash her bowl. It’s important to lay actions out logically so that the reader doesn’t have to struggle to track the action.
Point of View
It’s important to maintain POV continuity, and that applies whether you’re in first person or third. Improper head-hopping is one of the major issues that can leave readers feeling confused.
In short, never make the reader work to understand what’s taking place or who’s talking.
It’s incredibly easy when we’re writing to fall into a pattern with our sentences. Variety in sentence structure is critical, though. Variety engages readers, repetition can bore them. We want engagement!
Chapter and Scene Breaks
You always want to end scenes and chapters on a note that is emotionally satisfying or, depending on where you are in the story, has the reader wanting to stay up and read one more chapter. There should never be a point where the reader puts your book down and doesn’t care if she picks it back up.
Grammar and Punctuation
This goes without out saying. I check for spelling, usage, punctuation, connotation, word choice, pronouns and referents, dangling modifiers, hyphenation, subject-verb agreement, and all that other fun stuff. 🙂
|So, what can affect your quote? (I can hear you thinking that!) Part of it depends on the level of revision and editing your book has gone through before it reaches me, and the quote is also affected by my assessment of the length and complexity of the project. Per word pricing is only a guideline. These guidelines are offered as a convenience so that you can get a ballpark figure for your project without having to contact me (unless you want to!) I’m happy to answer questions and discuss projects, but I personally dislike having to contact someone just to get an idea of pricing, so I don’t want to subject you to that. 🙂||
A big part of choosing an editor isn’t just skill – it’s also determining whether or not you’ll be able to work with the person. In order to let you get an idea of both factors, I’m happy to offer you a free sample. Send me your manuscript (or just the first five pages, if it’s still a work in progress) and I’ll happily edit the first five pages and send it back to you. This will also let me give you an accurate quote as well as estimate project length and turnaround time.