Guide: The Different Types of Editing


1. Developmental/Structural

This step looks at the story as a whole with the intent of improving readability, appeal, and marketability. Things that will be looked at include:

  • concept, setting, plot, structure, overall presentation
  • character development, characterization, unnecessary characters
  • point-of-view consistency, showing vs telling, voice
  • motivation, goals, conflict, tension, tone
  • back story, plot holes, loose story threads
  • scene order, flow, and pace

2. Line Edit

This step zooms into the paragraph and sentence level of the story. The intention here is to tighten up and smooth out the writing, and iron out any style issues. Things that will be looked at include:

  • sentence structure, wordiness, paragraph flow
  • word choice, word repetition, overused words
  • clichés (the phrase kind, not the concept kind)
  • weak transitions, overall clarity

3. Copy Edit

This step is about clean-up and consistency. It’s the phase where a fine polish is buffed into the surface of the story. No major edits will occur from this point onward. Things that will be looked at include:

  • grammar and punctuation
  • use of active voice over passive voice
  • continuity and overall cohesiveness

4. Proofread

The goal of this step is to look one last time for errors and things that need to be changed. Things that will be looked at include:

  • typos
  • overlooked errors in grammar, punctuation, and capitalization

5. Formatting

If your book is being traditionally published, you only need to worry about putting your manuscript into the format preferred by the agent or publisher you’re sending it to. If you’re self-publishing, this stage is a little bit trickier, because e-books and print books require slightly different formatting. There are guides online for how to do it, or you can pay someone to format your book for you. Just do your homework to make sure you’re choosing a good service. There’s also software that will help you format your book, or you can look into services like Pressbooks.

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