LINE EDIT DETAILS
Language and storytelling go hand in hand. How you phrase a sentence impacts the way it is perceived by the reader, and subtle shifts can create wildly different meanings. Think about the difference between “Let’s eat Grandpa” and “Let’s eat, Grandpa”. That comma is doing a lot of heavy lifting.
At the sentence and paragraph level, I'll dive into how your use of language will affect your reader’s understanding. Line edits should be conducted only after you feel confident in your story’s big-picture elements (plot, character, pacing, structure, etc) and you are getting ready either to self-publish or submit to agencies or publishers.
First, I’ll read several chapters of your story to get a feel for your unique voice. I pay special attention to the beginning, middle, and end, as many authors get warmed up as they write, which can lead to small variations as the story progresses. During this getting-to-know-you stage, I’ll start a style sheet, tracking character and place names and any other unique elements so I can ensure their consistency throughout the manuscript.
Next, I’ll read through the entire manuscript, making edits if necessary, updating the style sheet, and leaving comments and queries to draw your attention to key changes. I have two goals during this step: to eliminate things that might distract readers, and to offer guidance and practical advice to help you improve your writing. Some examples of what I’ll look for:
Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word usage:
These are likely what most people think of when they think of editing. Many word processors have built-in tools to help with these, but an automatic spell checker doesn’t understand the nuances of language like a human being. It can’t tell from context clues that you meant “intimated” instead of “imitated”. In some cases, the included autocorrect in many of these programs can actually introduce errors, without the author even realizing it. I will sometimes use these tools to make my job faster and more efficient, but they can’t do it for me - yet.
Logic and Clarity
See if you can spot the error in this:
Don entered and shut the door behind him. “How could you do this?” he said.
Marta followed him into the room. “How could I? What about you?”
Did you catch it? The original author didn’t. Don had already shut the door, but Marta came in after him, with no mention of opening the door again. Little mistakes like this are easy for authors to miss, but can trip up readers. A typical copy edit might not address these kinds of errors, but I want my line editing service to be as comprehensive as possible.
Most novels are written in either past or present tense, and I’ll ensure that whatever tense is used is consistently maintained throughout the novel. I also pay special attention to when backstory is introduced, as the “further” past tenses can create confusion for readers.
Changing Point-of-View (Head Hopping)
Whether you have one character’s point of view, multiple, or a omniscient narrator, I’ll make sure the point of view remains consistent so readers can easily follow the action. I’ll also point out if there’s any issues in logic, such as a character describing something that couldn’t possibly be seen from their point of view.
Once I've completed my edit, you'll receive a fully marked up manuscript, a style sheet, and a brief editorial letter where I will include some general notes about the text and practical advice to address any reoccurring issues I see.
Prices and Project Length
Line edits range from $0.01-0.03/word depending on the volume of edits needed and can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks. I’ll request to see the entire manuscript before I quote a price/time, as often only seeing a few pages or a chapter doesn’t give a full picture of the work needed.
STORY COACHING DETAILS
Many writers wonder, is this any good? Am I wasting my time working on this? They might ask their spouse to read it, or their friend, but finding objective, practical advice is difficult, especially when you are first starting out.
Maybe you want feedback on something, but you aren't ready to commit to the cost of a full developmental or line edit.
Maybe you've been getting too much rejection and too little clarity on why
Maybe you're struggling to finish a story, and you need a sounding board for some new ideas.
Maybe you've completed a first draft, or several drafts, and you need to know if it's ready for the next step.
Maybe you write a lot, and you like to write, but you aren't confident in your skills and don't know how to grow them.
My story coaching service is designed for authors at this stage of their writing journey.
This service is highly flexible depending on what you want and need. In general, authors can expect:
A brief consultation to discuss your goals; this is always free of charge.
If you opt for coaching, I will read the piece thoroughly and put together a report on strengths and weaknesses, similar to that of a developmental edit, but without the in-depth story editing.
The report will detail my professional assessment of the structure, plot, setting, characters, action, dialogue, and flow.
I will orient my comments based on your goals; this is a great way to get targeted feedback for the areas you most struggle with.
If you wish, the report may also include a general assessment of your writing ability, with practical steps to grow your skills. This is generally NOT included in a developmental edit unless specifically requested.
After you receive the report, we'll schedule one hour of coaching (typically via Zoom), where I will answer your questions and act as a sounding board as you work through my comments.
Prices and Project Length
Like my other editing services, story coaching is based on word count. Manuscripts under 5000 words start at $100.
40- 50k: $350
100k+ case by case
If you receive story coaching for a manuscript and later decide to move forward with a developmental edit for the same manuscript, your story coaching fee will be deducted from the cost of the edit.
DEVELOPMENTAL EDIT DETAILS
First Read and Note-Taking
In some of my early editing training, a fellow editor made a statement that I took to heart: “The book will teach you how to read it.” I always start my developmental edits with a complete read through of your manuscript, absorbing the story and making initial notes. In this first step, I’m getting to know your story and characters, but I am also familiarizing myself with your voice and style. I let your words teach me about your story world.
Second Read and Commentary
Next, I read through your manuscript again, this time expanding on my notes and making comments on the manuscript itself. My goal is to answer one question: if something isn't working, how can the author achieve what they want to achieve with as few changes as possible? These are some (but certainly not all!) of the things I consider:
Plot and Structure
What is the overall structure of the main plot? Does it flow logically? Does it rise in tension to a satisfying climax and resolution? Do the chapter lengths and order make sense? What are the subplots? Do they seamlessly interweave with the main plot? Does an subplot take over the majority of the narrative at any point? Do they all conclude satisfactorily? Are there any dropped threads?
What kind of backstory is included? Are there “info dumps” or is the backstory information interwoven through the main (or “front”) story? Are the transitions from backstory to main story jarring or smooth?
What is the goal of the main protagonist(s), and how is it revealed to the reader? Do they have agency, or is the plot just happening to them? Are there logical consequences to their actions? What are the major obstacles to them achieving their goals, and how do they overcome them? Or, if they don’t overcome the obstacles, what are the consequences of that? Do they have interiority? What’s their arc, and how is it developed? How does the reader meet them, and what does that tell us about them? What do the antagonist(s) want, and how is the protagonist in their way? Do they have satisfying interactions? Do the side characters feel like they have internal goals and wishes that are separate from the main character(s)? Are there too many of them to track? Do they each have a purpose?
Does the dialogue contribute to or detract from the tension in a scene? Does it reveal character? Is it interspersed with action beats that contribute to or contextualize meaning? Do characters have unique voices?
Tension and Stakes
Is the pacing appropriate for the type of story being told? Does it speed up and slow down in places that feel logical? Does it feel overly fast or slow at any points? Does the plot seem to drag at any point?
What is the narrative style? Is it consistent throughout the book? If there are multiple POV characters, do they have distinctive voices that allow the reader to understand the perspective they are following?
Based on the genre the author has identified, does the story meet the major key features of that genre’s readers will expect? If it deviates from genre expectations, is that deviation justified by the plot/story/characters?
Final Read and Report Preparation
Next, I will conduct a third and final review of the entire manuscript and compile my findings into a robust editorial report. I will explain my observations and provide clear suggestions for potential revisions, citing examples from your work for demonstration purposes. This feedback is designed not only for the current manuscript, but as a teaching tool for everything you may write in the future. That’s why I call attention not only potential problems, but also areas that you are already doing well, so you can continue to expand on them.
Call and Ongoing Support
After you receive the report and manuscript with comments, we’ll schedule a call to go over my findings together. For some authors, opening the report is sometimes the hardest part– that’s why I’m happy to do it with you! Finally, whatever revisions you decide to implement based on my feedback, you are welcome to email me for support if you have questions or require clarification on any of my notes.
Pricing and Project Length
Developmental edits start at $0.025 per word and can take between 4-8 weeks to complete.