Recently, I’ve been refining my editing process, discovering just what my word processing software can do (and that, yes, it can convert and make things Microsoft Word can still use, despite being made on a Mac).
Gone are the days when “editing” meant printing out documents and marking them up with all sorts of little marks until the author needed a “cheat sheet” to interpret it, so I thought it might be helpful to show an example of copyediting and book coaching on the same passage. The story is one of my own that I haven’t touched for fourteen years (and it shows), so there was plenty to edit and make comments on.
As you can see, copyediting involves finding ways to improve the writing without overhauling anything. There are no suggestions to not “tell” this, no mention of what readers might find implausible. It addresses grammar, eliminates redundancy, clears up awkwardness, and points out areas where better word choices might be made, but it doesn’t talk much about the usefulness of the scene or the characters growth or actions. It basically takes what you’ve written and improves it without expecting you to change the scope of the work. (And here is the complete file if you want a closer look at the copyediting sample: Copyediting Sample
Below, we have the same passage, without anything cleaned up for grammar or appearance, but with coaching comments.
As you can see, all of these are focused on the story itself, the way it’s being told, and how it might be told better. Also called “developmental editing,” it notes positives as well as “challenge areas” and it offers suggestions as to how one might change the story, making it more believable or more interesting for readers. It looks at the big picture, examining how you’ve handled world building, characterization, and plot development. And the whole file for this is here, so you can see it more clearly: Coaching Sample
When I work with clients, I offer them either coaching, by itself, or coaching and copyediting because, as you can see, copyediting by itself only helps you so far. It doesn’t necessarily help your story become more believable or more realistic. It just helps make it cleaner and easier to follow.
But, that being said, I strongly encourage authors to have a copyeditor work with them to help them correct awkwardness and find grammar errors or redundancies, to confirm that they’ve spelled characters’ name correctly and have been consistent in description (but not too wordy). That’s why I’ve tried to keep my coaching-and-copyediting package as affordable as it is, so you don’t feel you have to choose between making your story stronger and making your story clearer.
You can find more about my book coaching and copyediting services here.
Copyright 2018 Andrea Lundgren