Line Editing, also known as a Substantive Edit, is about the execution of storytelling. It’s not about the “what” as much as the “how” of the storytelling.
As opposed to a developmental edit, which works with the bones of the story to make sure the structure is sound, line editing gets into the muscles that make the story move and breathe, line by line.
What I can cover in a line edit:
- Narrative Voice
- Point of View and Point of View Changes
- Checking to make certain that character motivations are clear
- Clarifying challenges and obstacles
- Story Flow
- Refining sentences for ease of reading
- Examining word choice for emotional impact
- Grammar and Paragraph structure
Line editing is NOT proofreading and is different from copy editing, though I may point out typos and other things along the way, if they comes up. Think of it as taking your book to a master class on writing and getting on your word tools in order.
A line edit can be brutal. My job, when line editing for you, is to comb through your manuscript and make it be the very best that it can be. Depending how much of your own editing has been done and how clean your draft is, there could be a lot of markings to go through when you get it back.
You might feel some resistance. That’s normal. In the end, it’s always an author’s choice whether or not to accept their editor’s suggestions.
Examples of comments I’ve made while line editing:
“This information is redundant. We saw this in the previous paragraph.”
“This section is a memory, being recalled by your POV character in their thoughts. As you are writing in the ‘current time’ of this narrative in Past Simple, this needs to be shifted into Past Perfect. Instead of saying, “He walked to the store,” we need, “He had walked to the store.”
“This particular word reads like modern slang. It doesn’t fit your medieval setting. Perhaps _____ or _____ would be more in line with your world building.”