Blue Minerva offers a variety of different levels of service that can be customized to your specific needs. The level of editing your work should go through depends on several things:
- What kind of work it is
- Your overall vision for the project
- What you plan to do with it
- Your budget
If you’ve got a solid draft that you’re confident is ready for fine-tuning, a copyedit is an essential next step. Checking text at the most basic level is known as light copyediting. This includes:
- Checking for correct and consistent spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation
- Checking for correct word choice
- Querying when something is unclear or seems inaccurate
- Conforming text to a particular style guide or house style
- Checking figure and table numbers and references
- Checking for missing copy
- Preparing and maintaining a style sheet to aid in consistency
Medium copyediting gets more detailed. Most projects that are ready for a copyedit need this level of attention. In addition to everything covered in light copyediting, it can include the following:
- Changing text and headings to achieve parallel structure
- Marking and possibly suggesting replacements for inappropriate, ambiguous, or incorrect words or phrases
- In nonfiction, ensuring that key terms are handled consistently and that summaries and end-of-chapter questions reflect content, and checking footnotes, citations, and front and end matter for content and proper formatting
- In fiction, tracking the continuity of plot, setting, and character traits, and querying discrepancies
- Changing passive voice to active voice where needed
- When there is more than one author, enforcing a consistent style and tone to maintain cohesion
In heavy copyediting, the editor improves the text’s flow and readability:
- Eliminating wordiness, clichés, repetition, and unnecessary jargon, replacing with suitable language if needed
- Eliminating unnecessary detail and unrelated material
- Smoothing transitions and moving sentences, paragraphs, or sections to improve readability and impact
- Assigning new levels to heads to achieve logical structure
- Suggesting and sometimes implementing additional material
- Enforcing a uniform level, tone, and focus
- Checking for consistency and logical structure
- Reworking, and possibly rewriting, text to ensure it delivers a clear and cohesive message
- Organizing and possibly creating headers and subheads for logical flow
- Suggesting additional elements, such as timelines, callout boxes, sidebars, a glossary, an index, and illustrations
If you’ve got a great first or second draft, but need some help with it–to find your focus or improve the structure, to get the storylines better organized, or to make your characters jump off the page–your work could probably benefit from developmental editing. This step is done before a copyedit. It includes many of the tasks outlined for heavy copyediting, but for the most part, the text is not fine-tuned for language or grammar. Instead, the focus is on the content of the work as a whole, and the editor’s goal is to help provide the author guidance on how to rewrite the draft.
- What are the overall goals for the project?
- What message is being conveyed?
- Will the reader understand the message?
- Will it resonate with its intended audience?
Developmental editing in fiction is an intense look at every big-picture aspect, such as:
- Are the characters realistic and sympathetic? Do they have clear goals?
- Do the antagonist’s goals conflict with the protagonist’s?
- Are the plotlines clear, and does each scene advance the plot?
- Are all the plotlines resolved at the end?
- Is there sufficient tension to carry the story forward? Are there places where the reader might lose interest?
- Do the emotions of each scene make sense and contribute to the story?
- Are all the scenes integral to the story or character development? Should any be moved or cut?
- Are the characters distinct from each other? Are any similar enough that they can be combined or cut?
There are two distinct levels of developmental editing:
- A manuscript evaluation, in which a letter is provided that details the major big-picture issues that, when revised, will result in a far more polished draft. The editor may also suggest possible solutions for overcoming specific problems.
- A full developmental edit. In addition to the letter to the author, the editor also provides line edits in the manuscript, pointing out specific examples of issues and suggesting changes where applicable.
A helpful tool that may be created as part of a developmental edit is a book map, which tracks character development, scene changes, and plotlines in a concise visual format. This is a great way to find the work’s strengths and the areas where it can be improved.
Proofreading is the final step, performed after copyediting has been completed and the copy is typeset and formatted for printing. A proofreader’s exact duties can vary but generally involve:
- Checking the copy word for word against the copyedited manuscript to ensure all edits were incorporated
- Ensuring no glaring errors were missed in the copyedit stage
- Checking for conformity to type specifications, such as font, margins, and word spacing