Welcome back to this three-part series on investing in novel edits! Last week we talked about what developmental editing is and why it’s important, and this week we get to talk about my favorite type of edits: line edits.
Line edits are edits that more-or-less focus on the sentence-level. These are edits that will tighten, fill out, and polish your prose, as well as catch continuity errors. Line edits don’t only improve your prose, though. A line editor will help you maximize the impact of your prose, thus strengthening your worldbuilding, character development, character voice, plot, and prose all at the same time. Or, if you want to read how I describe it on my editing page:
With line-edits, I’ll work at roughly sentence-level and tackle any issues that might make your story unwieldy or hard to read. Things like cleaning up info dumps, drawing out description, making sure word choice is effective, and fixing up sentence structure. I’ll also point out consistency issues and other small details that help make your novel as cohesive as it can be, like “could you work this detail in a few chapters later?” or “could you introduce this character’s quirk earlier?”
Basically, line edits help with a whole bunch of things.
Why should you invest in line edits? Well, as you can see, line edits tackle a lot. Line edits are the most broad variety of edits, and possibly the most important. Building a strong foundation with developmental edits is important, but if you’re on a tight budget and have to cut something out, line edits can usually do the bulk of the heavy lifting. They’ll make your book readable and help even a weak book pack a better punch. (Though, again… getting all the edits is ideal. Duct tape is great for keeping things together, but repairs are better.)
Can you get away without line edits? Some authors probably can. Some authors have really strong prose from the get-go and fully understand how to utilize it to its maximum potential and have no problem applying that understanding. But even good can be made better, and a line editor can at least be a second set of eyes to double-check that everything flows smoothly and you’ve highlighted every element of your story in the best way possible (or set aside the details that aren’t as important). So while you can get away without line edits, I personally highly recommend them. And, in my experience, they’re a lot of fun.
Where to find a line editor
In case you missed it from my mention of an editing page, I offer line edits. They’re my absolute favorite to do when it comes to other people’s work. I love picking out elements that the author could capitalize on and suggesting ways to make description work harder and writing flow smoother. This is the area in which I most feel like I’m working with the author to strengthen their work. You can find my services here. I’d love to work with you!
But there are also other options. Rachelle Rea Cobb offers line edits (under the title of “content edits”), and she’s the editor I plan to work with for my own books (though I haven’t had the opportunity yet). Brianna Storm Hilvety is also a line editor, and she’s well-known in the Story Embers community, which I trust to value excellence in the craft.
If you’ve worked with a great line editor in the past, drop a link down in the comments for other writers to find!
Have you worked with a line editor in the past? Do you enjoy line edits, or are developmental edits or copy-edits more your jam?