This fascinating fantasy novel was a multi-level editing job for me (see below). It needed a lot of work, not only in structure fixes and continuity issues, but in basic punctuation and word choices. I also consulted with the author on cover design and plot points. The result was a highly readable book – more than 100,000 words – with an otherworldly twist.
The Four Levels of Editing
1. Big-Picture Edit
This is big-time editing. It is also called developmental, structural or substantive editing. It involves moving large chunks of text around and possibly cutting some sections as well. It addresses how everything hangs together, aka the very structure of a book .
2. Paragraph-Level Edit
Some editors call this stylistic or line editing. It involves recasting sentences for clarity and flow, what I like to call making it “writerly.” Or, simply put, more professional. It can also involve moving sentences around so that the meaning is clear. Most important, stylistic editing always aims to preserve the author’s voice.
3. Sentence-Level Edit
Better known as copy editing, this kind of editing addresses grammar, usage and consistency issues. Some call the latter issue “continuity.” We all know that an author can lose track of many small details over the course of writing a book. Thus the editor makes sure that descriptions of characters in chapter one match the descriptions in the final chapter – continuity.
4. Word-Level Edit
Also called proofreading, this kind of editing addresses typos, repeated words (the the), spelling, punctuation and formatting issues: Single or double quotes? What to capitalize? How to write numbers (spell them out or use figures)? Etc.