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What does a line edit look like?

A common question new indie authors ask is, ‘What does a line edit look like?’ It’s tricky to know what to expect if you’ve never been through the process before. This blog post includes a sample chapter, which has been line edited, as well as the improved version of the chapter following the line edit.

The sample chapter included (accessed by clicking the ‘What does a line edit look like? Sample Edit’ link below and downloading on a PC or laptop) had already been edited by the author themselves, prior to me working on it, therefore it was already quite ‘clean’. This means the author had already corrected most spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes, and double checked everything as best they could. This definitely helped me, as the editor, although it isn’t an essential step. Some authors like to send off their first drafts as soon as they type the last full stop!

What does a line edit look like? Sample Edit

Editing revisions are normal!

If you click the ‘reviewing’ pane at the top of the sample edit, you can see it contains 78 revisions in a chapter of 770 words, all made using ‘Track Changes’. This is normal. Double or triple the amount of revisions would also be normal – every manuscript is individual! However, the knock-on effect of more revisions may be two fold. Possibly a higher editing cost, or a longer editing timeframe, because of the time it takes to catch everything. The time and cost of a full edit would be determined by your sample, which is why it’s often more beneficial to get your manuscript in as great a shape as possible before professional editing. Again, though, not essential if you’re prepared to pay a bit more or wait a bit longer.

Clicking once or twice on the horizontal lines on the left hand side of the editing sample will show or hide the ‘mark-ups’, which are the suggested changes made by me. If the lines are grey, it shows the mark-ups. If they are red, the mark-ups are hidden. The comments down the right hand side of the document are always visible until they are manually rejected/deleted.

What does a line edit look like?

As this is a line edit sample, you can see that I have made changes/suggestions such as:

  • Considering different fonts for written communication between characters;
  • Removing single speech marks if the character is not speaking aloud;
  • Checking where the character retrieves her treats from as it doesn’t say;
  • Checking whether the dog will have followed her;
  • Changing sentences starters to avoid repetition;
  • Creating shorter sentences for greater impact;
  • Punctuating a subordinate clause correctly;
  • Questioning whether the chapter ending is compelling enough for a page-turner genre.

Again, all perfectly normal!

Once all the changes/suggestions have been made, the manuscript goes back the author to accept all, or some, of the changes (it’s their choice). This is done by clicking on the ‘accept’ pane and using the drop-down arrow to choose from three options. Either ‘accept and move to next’ (advised), ‘accept all changes’ blindly (not advised) or ‘accept all changes and stop tracking’ (this can be done right at the end, otherwise turn ‘Track Changes’ off to continue working on the document).

Once the author has reviewed all the changes, they can then act on any remaining comments before rejecting/deleting them, leaving them with a new ‘clean’ version of their manuscript.

The improved same sample chapter included (accessed by clicking the ‘What does a line edit look like? Revised Edit’ link below and downloading on a PC or laptop), could be subtly or significantly improved, depending on both the editor’s and the author’s decisions.

What does a line edit look like? Revised Edit

The improved version should:

  • Flow better – be more readable;
  • Not contain any minor inconsistencies;
  • Be punctuated as correctly as possible;
  • Contain consistent formatting e.g. italics for written communication;
  • End with a more compelling chapter ending to entice the reader to turn the page (as is appropriate for the genre).

Reviewing and revising editorial changes and suggestions can be a painstaking process, but it’s absolutely worth it. I have never heard of an author regretting having their book edited and/or proofread. The author and the editor both want what is best for the book!

Now that you know the answer to ‘What does a line edit look like?’, feel free to comment or contact me to ask any questions about the editing process.

If you found this blog helpful, you may also like these other posts:

5 editing terms indie authors should know

What are the basic differences between editing and proofreading?

What are the differences between line and developmental editing?

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