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  • Writer's pictureLaci Felker

How to know what your story needs (editing-wise)

So, let’s think about it: your story is done (you literally just finished it like two seconds ago) and you’re reveling in the joy of having just finished after months (or years) of writing it, until the crushing realization of editing settles on your shoulders. Where do you start? Well, you have a few options. Now, the thing with developmental editing, is it is usually done either before or during the writing process. You can certainly do it after, but it’s better to know when something isn’t going to work early on (like a glaring plot-hole) rather than coming back and completely revising your story. Developmental editing focuses on the big picture, good work quality, market potential, and it gives you feedback for issues that could be fixed. It’s always useful! Evaluation editing is a manuscript critique where an editor assesses structure, flow, completeness, and overall quality of your work. This is usually accompanied by an editorial letter that summarizes the key points, areas of concerns, and their suggestions on how to tighten things with your work. There will also be some mark-ups when it comes to structure, but they do not go in-depth like they would with a developmental edit.

Content editing, on the other hand, is still when an editor is thinking about the big-picture, but they also focus a little more on the words on the page. With this, editors go paragraph-by-paragraph, chapter-by-chapter, and tell you where they see incompleteness and offer corrections about the flow and construction of your work. Something that people usually confuse with content editing is line editing. However, line edits are more detailed than content edits. Line editing is usually for after your book has the right structure and organization, and it allows the editor to jump in head-first and focus on word choice and whether each and every sentence is worth the space it takes up. But do you know what comes from line editing? That’s right! Copyediting. Copyediting is absolutely your best friend. It covers spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. One thing I’ve talked about before is becoming de-sensitized to your work—meaning, you stare at something for so long and it starts to lose meaning and you can’t tell if having five commas in a sentence is right or if it’s just slightly off. Copyediting takes all of that worry away from you! Now, do you need all of these different types of edits? Well, I’m going to go with no. But should you use them? Absolutely.

Writing a novel or a novella (or in Brandon Sanderson’s case, something big enough to be a brick), using the various editing services that are available can make the task of writing a lot easier on you. And if you start your journey with an editor that you know you will use for the rest of the book, then you have someone that will fully understand you and your goal. Editors aren’t here to completely change your story. Editors are here to help you get your story to its maximal potential before you send it out into world, whether it be querying agents or self-publishing. Happy writing!

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