Are you wondering if you should get a line edit along with your developmental edit? To help you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, many editors will package various types of editing together then charge a reduced rate for both services, but is it a good idea? To help you decide, it’s important to understand each editing type and how it helps improve your work. 

Explanation of Developmental Editing 

Developmental editors concentrate on the content of your manuscript as you are developing it. It is the most in-depth type of editing. A developmental editor will look at every aspect of your book, its structure, plot, theme, flow, and any dialogues or characterizations. Depending on how seasoned a writer you are, some of the suggestions for improvements can be major changes. 


Pros of Developmental Editing

Many authors consult with a developmental editor before they even begin writing their books to get valuable insight on their ideas. This can save time and energy otherwise wasted on work this type of editor knows won't sell.

One of the greatest advantages to using a developmental editor is that they can point out gaps in your story, creating a more understandable and enjoyable read. It can make the difference between a reader never wanting to put the book down until the last page or getting to some point where the reader becomes lost and never finishes reading it. Conversely, a developmental editor will make note of rambling with a great deal of unnecessary verbiage, equally as disturbing to the reader.

Cons of Developmental Editing

Since developmental editors are looking at the big picture, they're not concerned with the details of punctuation and spelling errors, although when citing this as a downside, it's also important to recognize that since the editor is working with you as you develop the book, there are probably going to be fewer of these errors in the completed manuscript.

Most likely, the biggest disadvantage to hiring a developmental editor is the cost involved. The prices can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Those who have been editors for New York Times' best-selling authors may not be ones you can afford.

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Explanation of Line-Editing 

As its name implies, this editing examines the manuscript line-by-line. Unlike developmental editing, it is done after the manuscript is completed. The structure of a sentence, its clarity, and its style are examined and noted for correction. Some line-editors consider it a part of their job descriptions to also check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors as a copy-editor does, but some do not.

Pros of Line-Editing

Although most writers of fiction are aware of the "show not tell" rule, there is even more to it than that. For instance, the particular manner in which you show what you describe can mean the difference in a reader shedding real tears or merely feeling sorry for a character. Line editors are very good at directing your work toward the former and away from the latter. If you are using a developmental editor, often many of these things will already have been addressed, but in larger chunks of the piece, whereas the line-editor will scrutinize each line to elicit the emotions of a reader where warranted.

If the sentence is too wordy, this kind of editing will offer you a clearer and more concise way to phrase it. Also, if there is any inconsistency in the sentence with the story line, this will be noted.

Cons of Line-Editing 

It's essential that the editor likes your voice. Although a writer's voice can be improved in certain aspects, the general voice of a writer is unique to that writer. This is one of the reasons we like reading some authors' works more than others. In the end, it's a matter of taste. If your line-editor does not like your voice, you and the editor are not going to be a good match, and the editing can be more detrimental to your writing than helpful. 

As for whether or not you should have these two editing services combined, it depends on you and your manuscript. A developmental edit is typically done in the very early stages of drafting, like the first or second draft. A line edit is performed when you’re nearly done with the manuscript, usually the fourth or fifth draft if you’re following my five draft model. Since most of a manuscript may be changed after a developmental editor makes notes and comments, a line edit many not do you much good other than to make you feel like you got your money’s worth.


Read More on Editing

  1. What Is Over-Editing, and What Can You Do About It? ...
  2. 6 Tips for Performing Your Final Book Edit Before Formatting and Publication
  4. Should I Hire an Editor for My Novel Before Submitting It to an Agent?
  5.  8 Tips on How to Quickly Self-Edit a Novel
  6. Extreme Fiction Manuscript Editing ...


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The five draft method is designed to help you reduce your chances of over-editing, which can stall your writing process and cause you to either never deem your novel finished or ruin it in any number of ways, including inputting too many slow sections, taking out all the interesting details and doing too much ‘showing’ versus ‘telling’.

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