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View Full Version : What does 'Line Editing' mean?



smallthunder
06-16-2005, 10:23 AM
What does it mean when an agent writes some nice things about your work, but then adds:

The writing however needs, at least for me, to be line edited...

What does "line editing" cover? I imagine it would mean to check for grammatical errors, typos -- but is it more than copy-editing? Is the agent suggesting that my writing style itself needs to be overhauled? Or?

What's my next move?

aruna
06-16-2005, 10:54 AM
What does it mean when an agent writes some nice things about your work, but then adds:

The writing however needs, at least for me, to be line edited...

What does "line editing" cover? I imagine it would mean to check for grammatical errors, typos -- but is it more than copy-editing? Is the agent suggesting that my writing style itself needs to be overhauled? Or?

What's my next move?

Line editing,as far as I know, is similar to copy editing, It deals with the actual sentence level: paragraph and sentence structure, word use, repetition; for instance, if you used the same word twice in one sentence. Your line editor might want you to change some paragraphs to make the sense clearer, or even delete a paragraph is it appears superfluous. At least, that's what happened to me!

As far as your next move is concerned, I'll let Andy answer that!

dragonjax
06-16-2005, 03:11 PM
The definition is going to be slightly different for every editor. For me, line editing is the same as copy editing (grammar, consistency, style), with two major differences: (1) the line editor may make word changes/suggestions (what one editor of mine called "wordsmithing"), whereas the copy editor does so only when a word in copy is wrong, and (2) the line editor can suggest moving blocks of copy for logical flow/overall narrative presentation.

At least, that's my own take on it. In my work, the copy editor also does line edits, so the difference blurs to me.

If an agent is telling you that your work needs to be line edited, I think that in this case, the agent means a basic copy edit. Question: are you submitting to English-language magazines? If so, is your native language English? It could be something as simple as some of the agreement is off. A copy editor would catch that stuff easily.

Cathy C
06-16-2005, 06:46 PM
Did the agent mention anything more specific? I would agree that it's probably copy editing, which ISN'T just spelling and punctuation, but also includes realistic dialogue, sentence structure, proper word usage throughout (like "accept" instead of "except") and, as dragon mentioned, the "flow" of the text. Our copy editor rearranged the first five pages of our ms., even after the content editor was done, because it was too heavy with description.

Some copy editors will also notice plot holes, because they're as concerned with the FINAL quality of the work as the content editor.


Maybe you could post up one or two random paragraphs over in the showcase and some of us could take a look to see what the agent might mean.

Christine N.
06-16-2005, 09:36 PM
I've done some copy editing/proofreading. I always fix little things that may not be related to grammar or spelling, like plot inconsistancies.

For example, one client wrote "His mouth was sealed, never to be opened again." and half a page later was telling us about how the magical seal had been dissolved and the character was speaking. Hmm... so I fixed it.

I don't do major style changes or crits.. but I will fix stuff like that, that jumps off the page.

Jamesaritchie
06-16-2005, 09:37 PM
Line editing is usually not a good thing. It can have different levels, but it often means the very sentences themselves need to be heavily edited, or even rewritten. Mainstream book editors generally do not like buying novels that need much line editing because it can be a tremendous amount of work.

There's a serious difference between copyediting and line editing, at least with most editors. Any published novel will go through a copyeditor, but darned few have to be line edited.

Andrew Zack
06-23-2005, 06:20 AM
Line-editing for me is when I go through a manuscript sentence-by-sentence and rewrite, cut, move around, sometimes write whole new paragraphs or pages. Do I mark errors in grammar and punctuation? Sure, if I notice them, but I'm not reading for that. I'm trying to make the book better.

A copyeditor, on the other hand, is all about grammar, punctuation, and also marking the manuscript up for the typesetter.

Hope that helps.

Andy