Archive for category Rules of Editing

The Mechanical Edit

Hello everyone. Many apologies for not being back in a little while to get up the next Five Types of Editing installment. I have been very busy with the release of The Shulim Cycle Book of Susan and lots and lots of editing work. Now that I have a moment, however, I wanted to pick up where we left off: The Mechanical Edit.

The Mechanical Edit is usually the edit that authors look at and say “I hate editing.” This is a line by line edit, however it is not looking at sentence structure, voice, and transition. Instead, the Mechanical edit is concerned with four primary aspects of the work:

  • Grammar – Noun/verb agreement, proper use of prepositions, etc. Did you use words correctly – Their/there/they’re, lie/lay, for example.
  • Punctuation – Are commas, semi-colons, and periods used correctly? Are quotations punctuated properly?
  • Spelling – Did you spell words correctly? This catches not only misspellings, but also words spelled correctly, just not in context. Examples include no and not, though and thought, etc.
  • Specific Mechanical Needs – Citations, captions, and text separations are also included in the mechanical edit.

The Mechanical or Copy Edit is just what it sounds like. It is the mechanical form of the written word, making sure everything is smooth and correct. It is often called Copy Editing because it is the editing step that leads from manuscript to copy – or print.

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Line Editing

Line Editing, also known as Stylistic Editing, is just what it sounds like – working over the story line by line. This is the first edit that a story goes through that involves examining the Writing Craft. In the writing process, everything up to this point has been focused primarily on the Fiction Craft.

This is a very difficult, very time-consuming edit. It is not something that can or should be rushed. All works should be put through a Line Edit. How many changes the editor will need to do will depend on the writer. Some writers are very good at the Writing Craft; others are not. All writers sit on a spectrum. It is the job of the Line Editor to make every writer look like a genius.

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The Five Types of Editing

It is that time again. It is NaNoWriMo, also known as that time when writers find themselves blocked and removed from the social networks of friends who are tired of reading things like “Oh wow! I got 1,000 words today,” “Hey look, I’m at 9,000 words. Only 41,000 to go,” and “Why can’t I write today? I have only 2,700 words and it is November 29th!”

As it is National Writing Month, this is a good time to introduce your favorite new writer to editing, and for those of you who have been doing it a while, to brush up on just what editing is.

When we say “editing” what do we mean?

Truth be told, you have to ask the person talking about the editing to know. The type of editing that a person is talking about will depend greatly on the work, and where that work is in the writing process. We have some different names for types of editing, but labels aside, they pretty much mean the same thing, and they boil down to five basic types of edits:

  • Developmental Edit
  • Line Edit
  • Mechanical Edit
  • Format Editing
  • Proofreading

I’m going to be talking about each of these in some detail in this series, The Five Types of Editing. You can see that series here at The Writer’s Manifest and as contribution to StreetWraith Press.

Before I begin talking about editing, however, I want to talk about the difference between the Writing Craft and Fiction Craft.

Oh, there is a difference.

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