Choose the editing you need

Copyediting (line editing)

You’ve written and revised your manuscript . . . and revised some more. Now its finished. Congratulations! It’s time to make sure it’s ready for publication. As your copyeditor, I will review your writing for errors in grammar, punctuation, dialogue mechanics, syntax, usage, and spelling (because spell Czech dozen ketch every era that mite bee inn they’re). I will also flag problems of logic, continuity errors, redundancies and other repetitions, and inconsistent style. I will point out when you are “telling” instead of “showing,” and I’ll identify overreliance on passive constructions. I will strive to eliminate wordiness and improve readability where needed by editing for clarity. I pay particular attention to anything that could hurt your readers’ immersion in your story. In other words, my copyediting is, in fact, line editing.

Your authorial voice is what readers “hear” when they read your writing. It’s not just style, it is the way you choose words and put them together to express your meaning. It is something unique to every author, and it’s my job to keep it unmistakably yours while still doing everything needed to make your writing clear and correct. I edit following the guidelines of the Chicago Manual of Style. Any style guide deviations you prefer to maintain are accommodated in a consistent manner. I create a custom style sheet as I edit, which you will receive along with the edited manuscript. The style sheet is a record of the spelling of all proper nouns, non-English words, and slang. All characters are listed, or in the case of a memoir, all persons of importance to the narrative. Some of the editorial choices made in the manuscript are previewed as part of a summary of the most frequently occurring issues. I use the style sheet to help maintain consistency in your manuscript. It is a valuable tool for later proofreading. 

You will find me to be an enthusiastic supporter of your writing goals, with a genuine interest in making your work the best it can be. Working with me is a cooperative experience rather than an adversarial one. I’m happy to explain the reasoning behind any of my editorial decisions, but you are in charge of your manuscript; you are always free to accept or reject any of my edits or suggestions. 

A word to self-publishing authors: do not make the mistake of editing or proofreading your own work. After you have written it, rewritten it, and read it over and over, you know what should be in your manuscript; as a result, your brain will see what it expects to see, even when it’s not there, and it will miss the unexpected mistake that is there. That’s just how the brain works when it thinks it knows what the eyes are showing it. This tendency of the brain is useful in most situations, but problematic in this instance. Even good beta readers, valuable though they may be, are not substitutes for professional editing. I will bring a fresh and dispassionate eye to your writing. I’ll make sure your hard work is of a professional standard, free of overlooked mistakes or errors caused by a shaky knowledge of the finer points of grammar and usage. The greatest writers have counted on an editor’s skill to help their writing achieve its full potential. You should too. 

Developmental Editing (substantive editing)

Your first draft is done, but something you can’t put your finger on seems wrong. Or during the second draft, you revised the life out of your manuscript. Maybe you haven’t quite finished the first draft, and you’re at a loss for an ending. I can help. A developmental edit—also called a substantive or structural edit—is an analysis of your manuscript as a whole. It is not a word-by-word, line-by-line edit. Instead, I will look at your story at the paragraph, scene, and chapter levels to identify structural and other problems and propose solutions. 

For fiction, this means analyzing whether or not your narrative hangs together. I’ll address plot holes that need  plugging and evaluate plausibility. I’ll look at your pacing to make sure the story unfolds properly, neither rushing nor dragging but carrying the reader along to a well-timed climax. You’ve learned you should show rather than tell, but do you always recognize the difference? Do you know when the balance between the two is off? I’ll show you where it’s a problem. Is there too much backstory or too little? Is your point of view consistent? Are there too many points of view for the reader to follow? Is there enough conflict—internal or external—for the protagonist, the heart of every story? Have you created three-dimensional characters? I will offer suggestions where needed on how to bring them to life and make sure the voices of your characters ring true. Dialogue must be interesting and sound realistic without sounding too real. If that seems odd, consider that most real-life conversation would come across as dull on the page. Your dialogue needs to engage the reader, move the plot, and help convey characters’ emotions.

Developmental editing of your memoir will aid you in creating a clear and readable presentation that touches the emotions of your readers. I’ll advise you on what to leave in and what to skip. Are you using flashbacks? I’ll help you keep your readers from getting lost in the past. I will identify gaps in the narrative and make sure your writing is appropriate for your intended audience. Memoir shares with fiction the need for proper pacing to keep the reader turning pages. You've heard the expression “reads like a novel.” That is my goal for your memoir. Let me help you tell your story.

© Robert Kenney 2024  All rights reserved.