Line Editing: Lesson 101

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

What is Line Editing? Line editing is critical to improving an author’s work and is designed to elevate said work. While a developmental edit focuses on the overall content of an author’s manuscript in terms of organization and flow, a line edit focuses on content, style, and use of language. An editor is not looking for spelling mistakes and misused words when doing a line edit, instead, they’re looking to see how the author uses language (creative content, writing style) to communicate their story. In other words, a line editor looks at the story from a sentence and paragraph level instead of looking at the whole picture. Line editing is typically done after a developmental edit.

The Process: Line editing is a time-consuming editing process designed to make sure that your sentences flow from one to the next. During a line edit, your manuscript will be analyzed sentence by sentence for word choice, and the power and meaning of a sentence. I (your editor) will also consider your syntax (word arrangement) to see whether your sentences need to be trimmed or tightened. Words might be moved around and rearranged to make better sense and sentences. Sentences might be crossed out completely or rearranged to flow into one another. And sections, where language can be improved, will be pointed out, as well as parts where the writing style is inconsistent. I will also check for issues of pacing, and the overuse of words or phrases throughout the manuscript. The main goal of a line edit is to make sure that your words flow into beautiful sentences that flow into exquisite paragraphs that flow into a clear and captivating story.


Here are a few things that line editing focuses on:


Run-on sentences and overused words – A run-on sentence occurs when two or more complete sentences are improperly connected, usually because of missing or misused punctuation. Overused words is just what it sounds like, too many “reallys,” or “ands” or “howevers.” Is there a ‘Fred said’ at the beginning of every other sentence?


Pacing – Ever heard a reader say a book fell flat? This happens when the author neglects to properly pace their words or their story. Good pacing builds up emotion and leads a reader to keep turning the page. Poor pacing leaves them disappointed.


Narrative and Character dialogue – Sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, your narrative must have a natural flow that provides clarity to your readers. Such that this happened and that followed and led to here. This flow must be present not only in your narrative but also in the dialogue between your characters. They cannot be all over the place, or you lose the reader.


Tone and voice inconsistencies – Your tone as an author must be consistent throughout your book. If you’re passive in parts of the book and active in other parts, you leave the reader confused because they’re now unsure who’s talking and when. Needless to say, this is a tricky point in storytelling that can be best polished with the help of a book editor.


Overall story flow – the overall goal of a line edit is to ensure that your words flow into your sentences that then flow into your paragraphs to create a beautiful story. If your words are all over the place and your sentences badly constructed, you have disjointed paragraphs that destroy your story and leave your reader frustrated.


Once a manuscript has been through the line editing stage, it is time for copyediting and proofreading before sending it off for publication.


All in all, line editing is an incredibly time-consuming process that requires great focus and time by both you, the author, and your editor. Because of the amount of time invested in line editing, this type of editing costs almost as much as developmental editing does. Even so, I can assure you that your book will shine brighter after a great line edit and is likelier to make your book more successful.

 

Hi, my name is Amma and I have spent over a decade guiding authors through the book editing process. My line editing feedback with actionable suggestions will help guide you through the rewriting process and help you think about your story's overall flow and consistency.

  • Does your story flow from one sentence to the next? (Overall Story Flow)

  • Have you invested enough truth and authenticity into your voice to make it consistent and not confusing? (Tone and Voice Consistency)

  • What about your sentence structure and word choice? (Run-on sentences and overused words)

You'll receive, as part of your line editing feedback, a manuscript marked up using track changes (with some copy editing), with suggestions, and embedded comments.


To submit your manuscript to me for a free sample edit, send about 4 pages of your manuscript that do not include the front matter and/or the first few chapters. Preferably, pick the sample from the mid-point of your story. Submissions must be sent in industry-standard format (with 1-inch margins, double-spaced, Times New Roman, or Courier font)


I am a skilled line editor with several notable projects under my belt, and I'm here to help you make your story come alive!

"“I loved this editor...she made my story come alive and didn't change the story at all...”

— Amaka Azie, Author of Melodies of Love, Thorns & Roses, and Starting Over Again

 

Rates: Rates for line editing depend on the amount of work involved and agreed upon, and the number of passes requested by the author. Contact me for a personalized rate and payment plan.


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