Manuscript Editing Services
You've finished your novel. Congratulations! Know that this alone is a HUGE accomplishment that many writers never achieve.
Maybe a friend has read your story and LOVED it, but... she thought there was something weird at the end. Friends are great for support; rarely are they trained to read critically and provide actionable advice to improve your work. You need an editor for that. You need me.
In my experience, writers generally have three big questions about the story they've spent 30 days, or 5 months, or 10 years working on:
Is the story good?
Is the writing good?
Is the manuscript ready to share (with an agent, a publisher, or an independent press)?
To answer those questions, I offer four services:
I love reading.
I love communicating.
I love helping writers.
If you're looking for an editing service that I haven't listed (query letters, synopses, school papers, coaching, etc), contact me and let me know what you need.
Step 0: Story Evaluation. Is the story idea ready?
Are you ready to write a novel? How do you know? One way is to just jump in (“pantsing”), and if that appeals to you, I recommend you participate in NaNoWriMo next November. However, if you want to follow a roadmap while you write, consider a story evaluation.
For Step 0, a story evaluation, I evaluate a sample of your writing and a complete plot synopsis, rather like an agent or editor would.
Unlike a busy agent, I read your writing sample and provide you edits and comments to show what you're doing well and where you need to improve. Next, I’ll review your synopsis to look for any plot holes and unbalanced character arcs. I'll also offer suggestions for amping up the tension or adding thematic elements to your story.
Step 1: Manuscript Critique. Is the story good?
For Step 1, a complete manuscript critique (which may also be called a developmental edit or book doctoring), I read your entire manuscript - taking notes, asking questions, noting my reactions - to answer the basic question: is the story good?
I use those notes to create a ten to fifteen page letter detailing any flaws I perceive in plot, pacing, characterization, scene setting, etc. Then, I offer specific suggestions for fixing those flaws.
I’ll note any literary elements I find in your story, including motifs, symbolism, and theme, and then offer suggestions for deepening those elements or tying them more firmly together.
I also include a list of “nitpicks.” Nitpicks include words you may consistently misspell, misuse, or overuse; consistent grammatical mistakes; overused character tics; and/or brand name corrections.
Finally, I include a list of resources that you may find helpful based on your particular challenges. Resources may include articles about manuscript formatting, dialog punctuation, or how to show emotion through a character’s physical actions.
It’s not all bad, though! I also point out what you’re already doing well and how to keep building on those skills.
A complete manuscript critique will likely uncover something that requires a large rewrite. And by “large,” I don’t necessarily mean hundreds and hundreds of words. “Large” means something that affects the manuscript as a whole, such as cutting a minor character, changing the setting location, or rewriting the manuscript using a different point of view or verb tense.
I recommend doing a complete manuscript critique when you aren’t sure your story is good enough, you’ve received many non-specific rejection letters, or the feedback you are receiving isn’t helping you pinpoint what needs to be improved
Step 2: Line Edit. Is the writing good?
Step 2 is a line edit for your entire manuscript. (This may also be called a substantive edit or a heavy copy edit.) A line edit answers the basic question, Is the writing good? More specifically, a line edit further answers: Are there a variety of sentence structures and lengths? Are any words overused? Is the grammar correct?
For a line edit, I read your manuscript line-by-line and suggest changes (using Microsoft Word’s Track Changes and Comment features) to improve the writing. I do not address deeper issues such as story structure, plot continuity, or characterization in a line edit. (A manuscript critique does that.)
Line edits include fixing errors such as subject/verb agreement; antecedent/pronoun agreement; incorrect verb tense; and misused words. Line editing suggestions include eliminating passive voice, offering stronger noun and verb choices, and suggesting more felicitous word choices.
In a line edit, I also offer rewrite suggestions for fragment and/or run-on sentences (when those choices have gone from stylistic to confusing) and suggest when to break apart or join together paragraphs.
I recommend doing a line edit when you feel comfortable you have no large rewrites ahead of you due to plot holes, timeline issues, or other deep structure changes. In other words, do a line edit when you are confident your story structure is great, but you are unsure your writing is strong enough to show off that structure.
Step 3: Copyedit. Is the manuscript ready to share?
Step 3 is a copyedit for your entire manuscript, and it ensures your manuscript is ready to share. (This may also be called a light copyedit or, erroneously, a proofread.)
Copyediting is the final step before you submit your manuscript to a larger audience (an agent, a publisher, a professor). Copyediting keeps you from being embarrassed by your spell checker or grammar checker’s “corrections.” I correct punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. I ensure you are using the correct homophone (what I learned to call a homonym in grade school: the words “they’re,” “there,” and “their” are an example). I fix spacing issues, ensure you are following the manuscript formatting of your choice, and ensure your chapter numbers are in order. In short, I look out for all the nitpicky stuff.
Copyediting will not improve your story or your writing style; it just keeps you from being rejected because of technical mistakes. Do a copyedit when you are confident your story and writing are as strong as they can be, and you can no longer see your own mistakes because you are too familiar with the work.
Contact me with questions or to schedule your editing service. I'll take some basic information from you and use that to give you a complete bid that includes the final cost for your project and the expected date I'll have your feedback ready.