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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Substantive editing


I'm now getting ready to publish my story The Deadly Caress on Kindle in the near future. I'd been over and over my manuscript so many times and then my dear friend and writer, Victoria Chie found more things wrong.

I decided that I needed someone to edit and proofread it because I didn't want to upload something to Kindle that wasn't as professional as it could be.

I had so many replies to my job post that I was overwhelmed.

I settled on two American editors who will be doing a substantive edit and proofread for me. I figure the more eyes the better.

I have now sent my mss to the first one.

A quick learning curve for me was to find out what sort of editing I needed. I settled on a substantive edit.
I have copied and pasted an extract below from:

Structure is appropriate for the intended audience and medium.

Material is organized into an appropriate structure and sequence.

Chapter and sub-section divisions are appropriately organized and meaningful.

Language is appropriate for the intended audience and medium.

Consistent style, reading level, point of view, and level of decorum is used.

Appropriate stylistic and dramatic devices are enhanced or minimized as necessary.

Ambiguous vocabulary and syntax are recognized and clarified.

Statements that should be checked for accuracy are noted for copy editor or fact checker.

Redundancies and verbosity are eliminated.

Jargon that is inappropriate for the intended audience is eliminated.

Possible legal trouble spots (e.g., libel, plagiarism, missing permissions) or departures from social acceptability (e.g., gender, ethnicity, or age bias; failure to give sources) are identified for author 
and publisher.

Revise or cut manuscript to meet length requirements, as necessary.

Adapted from the Editors’ Association of Canada’s Professional Editorial Standards book, revised edition.

During the substantive edit, your editor will be considering the following aspects of novel
writing to comment on as needed:
There may be some comments inserted at various places throughout the manuscript. At the end
of the manuscript or as a separate revision letter, you can expect a narrative analysis with
suggestions and explanations of usually about 10-20 single-spaced pages on the following areas:
 Protagonist: May include: strengths, weaknesses, character arc, GMC (goal, motivation,
conflict), portrayal of appropriate and authentic emotions, turning points, raising personal
stakes, handling back story, character voice, plausibility, and other suggestions as the
editor sees fit.
 Antagonist: Same as above, but additionally: special focus on creating a believable,
three-dimensional character with clear and understandable motivations and desires
 Main Supporting Characters: Same as above for protagonist: for whichever
supporting characters the editor deems significant enough for analysis. This will be a
briefer analysis since supporting characters are not as deeply developed in most novels.
 Overview/Summary of characters as a whole: including general strengths, weaknesses,
suggestions for improvement, and additional resources to help with character
development as editor deems necessary.
 Story Structure: May include: Inciting incident, turning points (disasters, three-act
structure), building the story tension, dark moment, climax, resolution, Story GMC (goal,
motivation, conflict)
 Pacing: May include: balance between action sequences and reflective scenes, tension,
use of back story, eliminating preachiness, SHIR (See-How-I-Researched), explaining,
unnecessary scenes, extraneous sub-plots or meandering story threads, excessive
narrative summary or irrelevant dialogue passages
 Central Conflict: May include: discussion on ways to deepen conflict, make it matter
more in the story, raise public and personal stakes, heighten tension, layer conflicts
through sub-plots, complicate the conflict, strengthen or create turning points, and
connect external conflict to character’s inner conflicts.
 Plausibility and Originality: May include: suggestions for avoiding clich├ęd or
stereotyped plots, encouragement to create new plot twists, making the plot more
 Other aspects of plot as editor deems necessary
 Overview and summary of plot: strengths, weaknesses, ways to improve, and additional
resources such as books, articles, websites, or groups that editor feels would be helpful
Writing Technique—overview and general suggestions for improving the following areas as
 POV: deepening, limiting, strengthening
 Voice: writer’s own writing voice
 Showing, not telling
 Dialogue attributions, beats, and internalizations (thoughts)
 Increasing tension on every page
 Maturing overall style
 Summary and additional resources as needed
Summary and Further Recommendations
 Advice regarding how to approach revisions
 Suggested next steps beyond revision
 Encouragement regarding overall story potential


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