What Do These Terms Mean?

The terms that editors use mean different things to different people in the industry, which can be confusing for everyone.

When working on fiction and memoir, this is what the terms mean to me.

Manuscript Development

I provide two services the give you feedback on your manuscript as a whole, manuscript critiques and developmental editing. What you choose will depend on a number of factors—the most important of which are your budget and how well you feel that you can apply general feedback. These both cover plot, pacing, characters, structure, narration, and anything else that warrants discussion. While manuscript development does not specifically address grammar and usage, I point out any patterns I notice.

Manuscript Critique

(This is also known as an evaluation.)

Critiques involve reading the entire manuscript analytically and providing a general response, taking into consideration a reader’s perspective. For a full-length memoir or novel, my critiques are usually around 10 pages detailing what works, what needs more work, with general suggestions as to how you can improve your manuscript. Critiques cover plot, pacing, characters, structure, narration, and anything else that warrants discussion.

A couple of examples of general suggestions:

  • The tension at the beginning of the story is amazing, but it drops off very quickly. Maintaining that tension will help the pace of the story. One way to maintain that tension would be to not disclose John’s true identity until the earthquake.
  • You have a tendency to describe each character’s hair color when Jane meets them. Giving the reader some variety in these descriptions can help the reader get a better sense of how Jane sees the world. It can help to think of what Jane would notice specifically about that person at that specific moment in the story. It might be their appearance. But it could also be the way that they walk or the way they pronounce a certain word.

Developmental Edit

(This is also known as a structural edit, substantive edit, or content edit.)

A developmental edit includes a critique as described above. In addition to the critique with its general feedback, I provide in-depth and focused feedback within the manuscript itself. I mark up your manuscript with feedback about what works and what could use more work, and provide detailed suggestions showing where and how you could make improvements. Developmental edits cover plot, characters, structure, narration, and anything else that warrants discussion.

A couple of examples of specific suggestions that you would get in addition to the general feedback:

  • Jane is clearly uncomfortable here, but can you show us more of what is causing her discomfort? It seems that her discomfort stems from more of what John is doing, rather than what he is saying. Perhaps some more body language could help.
  • If you end the chapter here, you provide the reader with momentum. This momentum can help propel them into the next chapter.

Focusing on the Language

There are a few ways that you can approach this part of the process. I provide line editing and copy editing services.  What you choose will depend on a number of factors—the most important of which is how involved you want the editor to be in fine tuning your language.

Line Edit

(This is also known as a heavy copy edit.)

A line edit looks at your language intensely, tightening up your sentences and helping you further develop your writing style. This edit will provide you with feedback on how you express something in a paragraph, but will not address general themes, plot, or character development unless relevant to a specific way of expressing it. (These would be addressed in manuscript development.) A line edit will address your language, applying consistency of usage, mechanics, and stylistic choices.

A change made in line editing might tighten up a verbose line such as:

Jane was furious. She rubbed her elbow and glared angrily at John., “What the heck was that about?”

Copy Edit

A copy edit addresses your language, applying consistency of mechanics, usage, and stylistic choices. Typos and errors are also addressed in this stage of the process.

A change made in copy editing might be a punctuation correction such as:

Jane was furious. She rubbed her elbow and glared angrily at John., “What the heck was that about?”

Proofread

Proofreading is the final pass to catch any typos that may have been missed during the previous editing stages. This usually occurs after layout and design.

 

Interested in any of these services? Get in touch!