Different Types Of Editing

Editing is the process in which a manuscript is modified, corrected and polished thoroughly. In the literary world, there are different kinds of editing. Editing is very subjective, depending upon what exactly is lacking or needs improvement regarding the overall quality of the individual manuscript. For example, in some manuscript, prose needs tightening, whereas in the other the overall plot-structure needs to be fixed, or in some, the scenes are not executed well or the dialogues are lacking in quality, and so on. So the first job of an editor is to determine (based on the sample chapters they are provided by the writer) to determine which kind of editing does their work needs.

Editing is the process of correcting and polishing the manuscript in order to make it stand out.

To understand this better, the editing can be categorised as following::

  • Substantive Editing
  • Developmental Editing
  • Mechanical Editing
  • Line Editing
  • Copy Editing

Now, let’s take a look at the definition of all the types of editing listed above and try and understand them better:

  1. Editing (in the overall sense): Editing involves minor changes that polish your manuscript technically by focusing on the sentence structure, punctuations, spelling mistakes, typos, grammatical errors, pointing out mistakes in the already revised text. While editing, the overall story remains the same.
    Here, ‘fixing’ the manuscript’s structure, as well as the overall plot, is the priority.
  2. Copy Editing: Copyediting, commonly known as line editing, is a light form of editing that lends a professional polish to a book. The editor reviews your work, fixing any mechanical errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
    Copyediting is the least-expensive version of editing. Some professionals divide copyediting and line editing into two separate edits, copyediting being the lighter, grammar-only edit, and line editing being a more intense look at each sentence’s meaning.
  3. Line Editing: Line editing is often used interchangeably with the term copyediting. However, when it is distinguished from copyediting, it refers to a unique edit that falls between copyediting and developmental editing in intensity. In line editing, the editor looks at your book line by line and analyses each and every sentence.
    The editor considers word choice and the power and meaning of a sentence. The editor considers the syntax and whether a sentence needs to be trimmed or tightened. Line editing helps in making the prose sing.
  4. Mechanical Editing: Mechanical editing refers to the application of a particular style, such as The Chicago Manual of Style or Associated Press (AP) Style. The editor looks at punctuation, capitalisation, spelling, abbreviations, and any other style rules.
    Mechanical editing is sometimes included in copyediting.
  5. Substantive Editing: Substantive editing considers a work’s organisation and presentation. It involves tightening and clarifying at a chapter, scene, paragraph, and sentence level.
    Unlike developmental editing, which covers the big-picture issues and deep-level restructuring, substantive editing deals with the actual prose. Substantive editing is sometimes referred to as line editing and can also be confused with developmental editing. Always check with your editor and put in writing what his or her services cover, regardless of the term used.
  6. Developmental Editing: The developmental editor looks deeply at the organisation and strength of a book. Think big picture. The editor considers everything from pacing to characters, point of view, tense, plot, subplots, and dialogue. Weak links are exposed and questioned. The editor scrutinises order, flow, and consistency.
    He asks questions such as: Is this the right number of chapters? Are the chapters and paragraphs in the right order? Are there any places in the book where the pacing lags? Is there a hole in the information or story presented? Are the characters likeable? Developmental editing considers all the aspects of a manuscript that make the book readable and enjoyable.
    Because of the extensive nature of this form of editing, it is more time-intensive and costly. However, it is worth the investment if you are serious about succeeding as an author.

So these are the types of manuscript editing a writer has to inevitably come face-to-face with, at some point or the other, in their writing journey. So it is always advisable to know these terms before you deal with an editor who might expect you to already know about them. Or better yet, it might save you from a trap if, god-forbid, you end up with an editor who doesn’t know what they are doing (believe me, there are a lot of people who just do things for the sake of it, and of course also for the money.) So educate yourself well, before negotiating any kind of deal with an editor especially while self-publishing.

Author: Heena Rathore P.

Dark Fiction Writer, Author of Deceived, Novel Critic and EIC at Citrus Publishers. Wife, cat-mom, book aficionado, nerd, introvert, frequent blogger and rare podcaster. Founder of The Reading Bud & RMFAO.

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