There’s a specialist for every genre.
From legal content to arts and sciences research,
and from web content to fiction, I can help you perfect your words.
I can also help authors for whom English is a second language.
Even the strongest work can benefit from professional editing. Perhaps especially.
To see what happens to unedited—or poorly edited—books, go on a romp through the book reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. You’ll see more than the usual snarky comments about missed apostrophes. Readers talk about plot holes, flat characters, clunky dialogue, factual errors. Are the authors sloppy? No, they just can’t see their own work through an editor’s eyes. And this affects their relationship with the readers and the success of their book.
This work is at the macro level. It means making sure that all of the elements of your work are in the right order. A lot of problems with this come from the fact that an author doesn’t necessarily know how to start at first. Sometimes there are information dumps. There are unnecessary prologues. Maybe there are loose ends.
“Hey, remember how he was on horseback? Yeah, neither did the author. Harold’s horse vanishes into the aether of authorial forgetfulness.” (The Wombat Resists @UrsulaV, April 3, 2019).
Done right, this means that the story begins in the right place, that all the characters serve a purpose in the book, and that there aren’t any loose ends in the plot.
If the heroine has to save herself from her abusive husband, we may not need to know what she had for breakfast. If she has to gather her four-year-old daughter and her baby and throw some clothes together and get out of the house before he comes back from the grocery store, and she’s fastening the baby into the car seat, and she’s looked up and her daughter is frozen, staring at a spot over the door to the garage, and she sees that he has put up a security camera pointing inside, and she’s wondering how a child that young knows what it is, and she is shaking so hard when she puts her daughter in the car that she is struggling with the seat belt, that is not the time to reminisce about how she and her husband met, the day her daughter was born, or the story of the blanket the baby is wrapped in.
In an academic work, it means that each section of your manuscript moves inexorably to the next. In each case, the information in your work appears when the reader needs it to appear, and not too late or too early. The introduction is the right length, the conclusion is really a conclusion. The argument is easy to follow. You acknowledge problems or suggest further areas of research.
Or, if you are speaking about what the novelist says for all of Chapter 1, and you don’t quote anything from the book at all, but then you have a whole lot of quotes from the book in Chapter 10, maybe what we do is move some of those quotes from Chapter 10 and put them into Chapter 1.
If the structure is weak enough, the reader is unlikely to finish.
Stylistic or Line Editing
This is editing at the sentence and paragraph level. It’s reordering sentences in the paragraph to make the point easier to see. It’s adjusting the length and structure of paragraphs so they don’t go on forever or look like a wall of text. You don’t want the reader to be hypnotized because all of the paragraphs or sentences are the same length.
For instance, let’s take a look back at the thriller in the previous section.
“Come on, work!” Allie cried fearfully! And she walked to the door and she tried it. But it did not work. “Come on, Ralphie, we’ll come together!” she said urgently, her heart beating, and she said it again. Back as she was putting the baby in the car seat, and she thought about that (she wondered if it was too late—could it be?), but that they had to go, and her heart was beating, and then she cried fearfully, closing the door to the car with finality. This morning it was so hard to find the baby’s socks. “I have to be strong,” she said to herself. Trying the garage door opener, the garage door did not open.
Wait, what? What’s going on? And “Come on, Ralphie…” Am I the only one in the room with the soul of a twelve-year-old?
Let’s try this, instead:
She sat in the SUV and took a breath. “Let’s go…” And pushed the garage door opener.
She pushed it again, but it felt too light. She turned it over and saw that he had taken the battery out.
“Come on come on come on!” Allie cried. She got out of the van and the dog threw himself at the crate, whining, and startled the baby awake. Laney began to cry, too. “I wanna go home, Mommy! Why can’t we go home!”
Allie let the dog out. “Come, Ralphie…” and when he jumped to the floor of the garage, she felt less afraid.
She opened drawer after drawer in the garage looking for the real garage door opener.
He was texting her. She had only a few seconds to answer it before he would call. And if she picked up the phone and heard the children crying and the echo of the garage…
At the bottom drawer, underneath some porn magazines—Who still reads porn?—she found the dull edge of a garage door opener. She wrenched it out of the drawer, slicing her hand on a magazine.
This level of editing also involves making sure that each sentence follows from the next and that the writing is pitched to the proper audience. With dialogue, this involves making sure that the characters talk like they should. That is, your eight-year-old child character and your sixty-year-old judge character should not talk exactly the same.
It also involves removing extraneous detail, taking care of unintentional double entendres, or maybe even adding detail.
In nonfiction, this involves rendering needlessly complicated material into plain language. You don’t want your readers to have to sift through jargon to find the meaning of your words. You aren’t the only subject-matter expert out there, and if your work is bloated, full of too many acronyms, or so much unnecessary jargon that even you don’t entirely know what you’re saying, your reader will skip to the next article or book.
You also want to make sure that the text and tables match and that your abbreviation chart isn’t longer than your chapters.
You especially need a stylistic edit if English isn’t your first language.
Plot Holes, Fact-Checking, and Research
In that thriller, weren’t they in downtown Manhattan? How is there a driveway? How is there a garage? And on the road, it’s rush hour. They’re tooling along at 65 mph…75 mph…and then Allie floored it.
It’s important to know that the character can drive like that on that road in that city at that time of year.
And, when they find the body, is the investigating officer Detective Jones, Investigator Jones, or Special Agent Jones?
This involves inspecting a document for spelling, punctuation, grammar, usage, and mechanics. Other things I check for include the following: Is the document written formally in parts and more colloquially in other parts? Do the footnotes or endnotes numbers appear in the right place in the right order in the right sequence? Are the illustrations labeled properly? Do you spell a word one way in portions of the manuscript and a different way in others? Is your bibliography complete? Is the document clearly worded? Do the manuscript and references conform to the appropriate style manual?
I do not specialize in proofreading, but I can refer you to editors who do. Proofreading is the last stage of editing. It involves a final check on a manuscript after it has been formatted for publication. It is a check for things like misspellings, pages with only one word on it, punctuation problems, or inaccurate pagination.
fiction:: apocalyptic fiction, police procedurals, science fiction, thrillers, true crime
creative nonfiction: memoirs, biography, autobiography
nonfiction: textbooks, journal articles, dissertations, theses, research proposals, behavioral health, behavioral health sciences, child welfare, education policy, forensic science, healthcare policy, law, martial arts (history and practice), public health, social sciences, special education services
mathematical equations: only if you want bridges collapsing and a rift in space-time
Busy professionals need professional writers.
Blogs and web content
Potential customers often decide whether to hire you based on your website. They read your blog to get to know you. As a professional, I can take care of that essential feature of your business.
Let a professional writer update your clients about new developments in your business.
You may need other writing services.
You have a story to tell, and you need the help of a professional to help make it happen.
How realistic is that fight scene? Can you get DNA off of the piece of evidence your main character finds? Did Einstein really say that? What do they call public transportation in the relevant city? You’ve written your story, but you need a skilled, professional researcher to help with your facts.
If you still have questions:
The Editors’ Association of Canada (which, despite its name, is an international organization), has published a manual of editorial standards that describes the levels of editing in detail. Click here for the text.