Stylistic editing for memoir
You have completed the second or sixth draft of your memoir. You have tinkered with your own words for so long that you can no longer tell what reads well and what doesn't. You need an outside reader--but not just any reader. Someone attuned to the story elements, your voice, and the reader's listening ear.
Stylistic editing, also called line editing, focuses on sentences and paragraphs to make sure that nothing distracts readers from your story.
- Is the meaning of every word and sentence clear?
- Are the word choices precise?
- Does the rhythm, length, and variety of sentences reinforce the meaning?
- Are all the adjectives and adverbs necessary?
- Are modifiers in the right place?
- Are images and metaphors fresh and original?
- Could the be prose more concise?
- Are shifts in time and place easy to follow?
- Does the description draw on the senses?
- Are details about places and people consistent?
- Does the narrative move along at a good pace?
- Are emotions shown rather than told?
- Is the voice honest and authentic?
I edit with both a logical mind and a poetic mind. I am attuned to the meaning and the music of language—the sound and rhythm of your words and sentences. The edited manuscript will sound like the best and truest version of you.
Stylistic editing for your nonfiction book
You have written a nonfiction book on a subject you care about. You are reasonably satisfied with the structure, but you want to ensure that your argument is persuasive, your paragraphs cohesive, your sentences well constructed, and your words well chosen. A line edit ensures that your book will not only be informative but enjoyable for readers.
Is stylistic editing the right choice for me?
A line or stylistic edit is a good choice if you are mostly happy with the overall structure of your manuscript, but you sense that the prose is not as lively as it could be. You are open to editing that will enhance your writing in harmony with your voice.
Many authors ask me for a line or stylistic edit after I do a manuscript assessment. For authors who haven't worked with me before and plan to submit to an agent or publisher, I advise a manuscript assessment before going ahead with a line edit. There is no point polishing the prose if parts of the story end up being cut or if scenes need to be added.
If you plan to self-publish, I may be able to combine the line edit with structural work. This combination is called substantive editing, and it is very thorough. I assess the big picture elements in an editorial letter and also work directly in the manuscript using comments and track changes in Microsoft Word. Your manuscript will still need to be copy edited.
When you contact me,
- I'll send you an author questionnaire so that I can learn more about your background as a writer and your goals for the manuscript.
- Once you reply, I'll ask you to send me 10 pages (the first 5 pages plus 5 from the middle) so that I can assess the level of editing and provide you with a sample line edit of 250 words.
- We'll talk on the phone or Zoom for ~30 minutes to get to know one another.
- I'll send you an editorial agreement that puts in writing what I will do, when, and the cost. I use an editorial agreement based on a template developed by Editors Canada.
- An editorial letter (~ 5 pages) addressing any remaining "big picture" issues and explaining elements of the writing craft--the why behind my recommendations.
- Comments and queries in the margins. The comments flag specific passages that need attention, ask questions about clarity, explain the edits as needed, and make suggestions for larger-scale revision. Any significant rewriting should be done by you, because this is your book.
- Edits in tracked changes. Line or stylistic editing involves things like tightening the prose, improving word choices, smoothing transitions, varying sentence structure for sound and meaning, adjusting the paragraphing, and resolving ambiguities.
I'll be honest: line editing is the most expensive level of editing because it involves close attention to detail as well as the ability to write well and enter into the author's voice and vision for the book. A line edit for a 60,000-word manuscript may cost up to $4,000. Please get in touch so that I can provide you with an accurate estimate for your book.