These days it can seem as though every editor has his or her own definition of what goes into each stage of the editing process. And that makes sense. Every novel is unique, after all. And just as every writer has his or her own approach, so too does every editor.
Many people can work on a single novel, but at the end of the day it has only one author: You. And that means that, ultimately, you alone are responsible for the choices that shape the reality of your vision.
This is the place to start if you've just finished your first draft and are thinking about the possibility of major changes to genre, perspective, plot, main characters, and/or themes. It's also a great place to start if this is your first novel and you're feeling a bit lost, as an assessment can help you to get a solid grasp on exactly what your story is about.
With an Editorial Assessment, you can expect to receive a three- to five-thousand-word write-up examining the following:
It's important to note that this is not going to be a detailed look at any particular chapters or sections of your novel. This is by design: At this point you're considering whether to cut or rewrite major components of your manuscript, and so focusing too much on any one element can make it even more difficult to make those rather intimidating decisions.
But don't worry! An editorial assessment is only a starting point. If producing a novel is like folding an origami crane, then an editorial assessment is equivalent to making sure the corners and edges of your paper are as sharp and as true as possible.
By now you've got a pretty good handle on what your story is about. You can see the overall movement of it, the progression of major plot points, and the way your characters have started out in one place and gone someplace completely different (and possibly ended up back where they started). You can see the forest, and it looks great, but the trees themselves are still a little bit out-of-focus. You know how you want all of the pieces to fit together, but for some reason no matter how much you rearrange them they never quite seem to connect.
You're ready for a developmental edit.
Before, we were just gassing up, checking our mirrors, fastening our seat belts. But this is where the rubber meets the road. We'll be taking a much deeper look at each component of your story--every character arc, plotline, location, individual theme. We'll be looking much more at the structure of your story, the timeline and the revelation of truth, as well as the pace and flow of individual chapters of themselves as well as with regard to their place in the overall story. We'll be killing a lot of darlings, and unless your story involves a zombie plague they won't be coming back.
You can expect to receive:
While we'll be considering whole chapters and even sections of chapters, it's important to note that we're not yet ready to look at single sentences, or even paragraphs (for the most part). The reason is the same: We don't want to spend our time polishing things that we'll eventually cut, and we don't want to polish them so much that we can't bring ourselves to cut them at all.
Now we're getting into all the really gory details. At this point all of the major components of your story are where they need to be, and the task becomes to make sure they fit together snugly and smoothly. We'll be looking at your writing paragraph-by-paragraph and sentence-by-sentence, even down to individual word choice. We're going to make sure those transition sentences are working to your advantage and that it all supports and enhances the deeper story you're trying to tell.
A line edit comes in the form of a marked-up copy of your original document. There are a few important things to note here:
But perhaps the best way to get a feel for what you'll get is to just send me a thousand-word sample of your story, and in a few days I'll return your choice of a developmental or line edit, totally free of charge.
Submit a 1000-word sample of your novel, novella, or short story, and I'll return a sample developmental or line edit in just a few days!