Line Edit

What is a line edit?

lineA line edited manuscript explores the nuts and bolts of the writing style. Imagine that your car is broken down on the side of the road. If you’re like me, you open the hood and see a mass of pipes and turny-things and wires that look like the inside of a mechanical brain. It makes no sense until you take it to someone who knows how those pipes and turny-things and wires are supposed to be put together. As the mechanic unscrews a bolt and checks the oil and cleans the spark plugs and puts the engine back together again, you start the car, and it runs, smoother, better, and more consistently than before.

Your manuscript is your car. Each sentence in your story is your pipe and turny-thing and wire, and sometimes, those sentences need to be taken apart, cleaned up, and put back together again for a more efficient, smoother story.

That’s where I come in. I will look for the following issues while line-editing your manuscript:

  • Filter verbs: Filter verbs are those words that detract from the impact of a sentence. For instance: “He watched as the boy climbed the tree.” The strongest verb is “climbed,” but the filter verb “watched” gives the sentence less punch. A more powerful sentence would be “The boy climbed the tree.”
  • Gaze tracking: This is especially common in romance manuscripts, but can easily be overdone in any genre. It’s simple to fall into the trap of relying only on a character’s gaze, because “the eyes are the window to the soul,” and you want to show what your character is thinking. However, if your characters are only gazing at each other, you’ll lose so much potential for character development.
  • Adverb dropping: We all have our favorite adverbs. Mine are “abruptly” and “suddenly.” So often, these can be shown through the sentence context instead of told.
  • Grammatical edits: I will keep a general lookout for dangling prepositions, dropped commas, subject/verb agreement, dangling modifiers, etc. I will also comment on any inconsistencies I see when I find instances of subjunctive mood, sentence parity, active and passive voice, etc.
  • Word repetition/Word choice: I will keep an eye out for the same word used within short distances of each other, and highlight them for your consideration, possibly suggesting a different word in its place.

I suggest first submitting the manuscript for Novel Feedback or a Developmental Edit to be sure all plot holes and shaky story structures are eradicated. In a line edit, tracked changes will play a major part of my edits, although I will work extremely hard to be sure you maintain your own style and voice throughout.

Cost: $12/1,000 Words