ELENA ZAGREBELNAYA, TRANSLATOR
Alison has edited the English language text of several books that I translated from Russian. She would have to revise the text and we would then discuss problematic issues, after which she would finalise the English and edit it to improve the quality of the work. This involved a lot of communication as there would be questions on her part, when the text would have to be compared to the original. And, of course, there were always deadlines to be met. But because of Alison's excellent writing skills, which were a great boon for our work, our deadlines were never missed even though every detail was looked into and thoroughly discussed. In fact, I would say that diligence, patience, a friendly attitude, and commitment were her main strengths.
LINE AND COPY-EDITING: FICTION
I described developmental editing as what you see when you regard the work as a whole. Line and copy-editing is when you move your focus in to see the work at the level of paragraph, sentence, and word. Here, you are not looking at how the story has been crafted, but at how the prose has been crafted: it is the micro level to developmental editing’s macro level.
Line editing and copy-editing are slightly different. Line editing more of a stylistic intervention. The editor is looking at the flow of the writing, its rhythm and is aware of certain narrative techniques that the writer may be using. With line editing, the editor is working on aspects including clarity and sense, but without impinging on the writer’s style. Copy-editing is more technical. It is more focused on spelling, grammar and maintaining consistency with a chosen or created style guide. I offer both together to create a rounded language analysis that picks up on stylistic as well as technical issues.
QUESTIONS AN EDITOR MIGHT ASK OF THE MANUSCRIPT
Does the language flow? Is the rhythm varied and pleasing? Do the words fit?
Do the paragraphs flow?
Is there redundant language or repetition?
Are the sentences clear and unambiguous?
How effective is the dialogue? Does it fit the character? Is it clearly and consistently formatted?
Are there distracting clichés or other examples of lazy writing?
Are there any lulls in the writing caused by info-dumps or overwriting?
Is the point of view broken at any time?
Are the details of the characters, setting, and timeline consistent?
Are there any errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation?
Is the chosen style sheet adhered to? Is capitalisation and hyphenation consistently applied?
Are the tenses used appropriate and consistent?
WHEN DO YOU NEED A LINE AND COPY-EDIT?
This edit is about making the writing flow, sparkle and make sense! It needs to be done when there are no major or structural issues: there is no point in polishing the words if a plot hole might cause them to be deleted.
WHAT DO YOU GET?
This is a detailed report looking at your manuscript under headings such as dialogue use, viewpoint, filter words, tenses, and punctuation. As well as addressing manuscript issues, it will note what has been done well, offering, where useful, further reading. Character, setting, and timeline details will be listed for maintaining consistency. It will also include an assessment of what the manuscript may need after the suggested revisions are made.
FULLY MARKED-UP MANUSCRIPT
Using Microsoft Word’s Track Changes and Comments functions, page edits are suggested for stylistic and technical issues within the text.
A style sheet is created showing decisions made about spelling, hyphenation and capitalisation. This is to ensure consistency throughout the document and is a useful tool if the manuscript is to be proofread.
After receiving your feedback, you may have some questions. You may want to know more about a certain issue, or you may want further clarification on a suggested revision. Or you may want to brainstorm some of your own solutions. For that reason, a line- and copy-edit includes either a one-hour meeting on a video or phone call, or for me to answer one email detailing whatever questions you have.
VARIATIONS ON THE SERVICE
You may not want a full manuscript edited. Agents and competitions often ask for either the first three chapters or the first 50,000 words. To grab the attention of the judges and make the manuscript the best it can be, a thorough line and copy-edit could nudge the manuscript to the competition judge’s or agent’s notice.
Shorter pieces too can benefit from a line and copy-edit. If you are working on a short story for a journal or competition, it might help your piece reach the high quality needed for it to be noticed.
For all the practical aspects, such as costs and timescales, and to be taken through the process of hiring me as a fiction editor, please see The Practicals.