• KD DuBois

Proofreaders Rock!

Today is National Proofreading Day so here’s a shout out to all the Editors out there who have the thankless job of sifting through 80,000 words for mistakes. Not just grammar and word choice issues, either, but spacing errors and typos, too.

Yup, writers murder the English language. Our saviors are editors.

I had no idea about all the different “types” of editing until I did some research on the topic after I signed a contract with my publisher. I was curious about the process I’d experience, so when I actually went through three rounds of edits, I wallowing in deep self-doubt. I’d learned editing happens in phases, each with a different focus.

Here’s what I found about the different types of edits from Archway Publishing of Simon & Schuster and the Chicago Manual of Style.

>> Developmental Edit – This is a big-picture look at a manuscript, focusing on pacing, characters, point of view, tense, plot, subplots, dialogue, order, flow, and consistency. Huge rewrites can happen here, as well as lots of addition to fill in the gaps. Overall, readability and enjoyability are the themes with this edit, and where a story can really blossom.

>> Line/Substantive Edit – An editor narrows the focuses to the prose, tightening and clarifying at chapter, scene, paragraph, and sentence levels, looking at word choice and the power and/or meaning of a sentence. While developmental might have been the “add” phase, this is the “cut” portion, a horrific, stressful process to a writer. There can be multiple rounds within this edit phase, too.

>> Copy Edit – In this round, an editor applies a specified style to a work’s punctuation, capitalization, spelling, abbreviations, and other format issues to polish the manuscript for consistency and publication. Sometimes Line and Copy edit get combined which confuses the terminology, as some writers get this feedback in their Line Edit.

>> Proofreading – Finally, after all the different rounds of edits, you get to proofreading, the last chance to find errors. Usually this is when you get the Advance Reader Copy (ARC) and you can see how the formatting will look in the published work—and you can see where a hidden paragraph-return or extra space got lost in all the track-changes formatting of the draft. By this time, changes should be minimal.

Of course, proofreading gets done at all stages of editing. And, some may consider the copy edit the traditional proofreading we get taught in English class. But, it’s all editing, and it’s all invaluable to a writer. We couldn’t tell our stories without the insight and expertise of editors.

And, despite all our best, combined efforts, we still miss a few things. After all, we’re only human. So, if you see any editing errors in Daughter of the South Wind, let me know. I’m always happy to learn from my mistakes.


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