Editing Your Story

It’s coming! A writer’s arch nemesis, the dreaded road to editing. Not really, but you get the point. Most writer’s love writing the story, but the thought of reading, rereading, and rereading some more to find all those developmental and grammatical errors is pretty daunting.

I would say that I’ve read over my stories somewhere around 20 times before placing them on Amazon and I’m sure 98% of the story is grammatically correct. However, when you’re the writer, you’re subject to something called writer’s blindness. It’s this thing where you tend to skip over that small article before a noun or that comma or period that you know should’ve been there. But, the problem is, it isn’t.

That’s why it’s a good idea to get someone to read over your work for you, whether that be only in the proofreading stage. Strangers will read your story with a fresh pair of eyes and since they don’t know where the story’s heading, they’re more likely to catch errors than you are.

There are many different types of editing. So let’s talk about some of them and how they help improve your story.

  1. Editorial Assessment – This is something that’s offered to people as kind of like a detailed assessment of the work to give the writer an idea about the track of their story. The manuscript doesn’t necessarily have to be finished at this point, but it’s probably best that it’s near completion. Generally, it’s a 1-2 page detailed assessment of characters, plot, scenes, background, and more. What a writer can learn from this would be stuff like if they need more character development, more descriptive scenes/backgrounds, or ways to improve the plot line. However, it’s not as in depth as the next step.
  2. Developmental Editing – This is where an editor looks at your work as a whole when the manuscript is complete. The overall work is taken into account and an editor will look at “big picture” type of questions. These would include things like helping to eliminate glaring plot holes, looking at character development and how they react in situations, and looking at scenes to see if they add value to the story or if they’re only around for filler. At this stage, you’ll probably be doing a lot of deleting, rewriting, and adding. This is where you flesh out your plot and make sure it’s solid. In my opinion, all writer’s should at least go through this type of edit.
  3. Structural Editing – This one is kind of self-explanatory. It deals with improving the structure of your story such as chapter breaks, sectioning, flashback scenes, etc. It helps the flow of your story for readers so you’re not stopping and starting at awkward points in the story or making it confusing with time jumps and flashbacks.
  4. Copy Editing – I’ve heard people call this line editing as well even though they’re a little different. This is usually after developmental editing where an editor goes through line by line to make changes. This is where grammar plays a huge role along with POV/tense issues, dialogue tags, repetition, and any clarity and inconsistency issues. In fact, I use AutoCrit to help me out with a lot of this stuff because as they say: two pairs of eyes are better than one!
  5. Proofreading – So, once all these different types of edits are done, the final stage is to reread your work and check for any grammatical mistakes that may have been overlooked. This is also where I check the formatting of the book as a whole like page layout, breaks, and more to make sure the book is up to my standards. This is where I suggest having another person read over it with a fresh pair of eyes. Grammarly can be a lifesaver here for the self-published author.

If you want a more detailed account of these different types of editing, there’s a really good blog post on Reedsy. They’re a wealth of information and even help authors find editors, publicists, and agents.

Another source you can check out if that seems like a lot to comb through and your short on time is my podcast. I did an episode on editing back in the day that may come in handy for those wanting to learn a few things on their car ride home from their day job.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking – what’s the cost? It varies. Some hybrid and vanity publishers allow you to pick and choose what type of edits you want to make to your stories, while a traditional publisher will do all the edits for you. Of course, let’s get real here. Most of us like going the self-publishing route because we retain more creative control, so for us hiring a professional editor can get expensive.

Reedsy allows you to set a budget and pick your editor that falls within that range. Some, hybrid and vanity publishers also offer discounted editing packages. And then there’s always the DIY. Some editors charge per hour while others charge per word. You’ll just have to look around and see what you like, but I would expect most books to fall somewhere in between $1,500 – $6,000 depending on your word count. However, I have seen some as high as $10,000 for a book over 100,000 words (mine, ugh.)

Whatever you decide to do, I hope this aids you in your editing journey and good luck!

Published by Lauren Eason

Author of Dark Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. Podcaster. Book Reviewer. Catmom.

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