April 21, 2012

Sorting out the levels of editing

By Jennifer
Borton •
Even those of us who edit for a living can have trouble figuring out what it entails. When do you cross the line from copy editing to line editing? It's even harder for the uninitiated to figure out. The lines are a bit blurry, but here’s a rough breakdown.
  • Developmental editors look at the big picture, working with content and structure to ensure the work gives the readers what they need in an easily comprehensible format.
  • Line editors correct grammar, streamline wordy prose, and ensure that what you say is what you meant. They smooth out rough patches and reduce redundancies. They make clunky sentences elegant.
  • Copy editors make sure sentences are grammatical, and if they're not, that there’s a good reason for it. They often check facts and always ensure stylistic consistency.
  • Proofreaders correct spelling errors, misplaced punctuation, and typographical inconsistencies.
Ideally, your manuscript will go through each of these steps before publication. There is some overlap among these roles, though. For example, the last three all include taking care of pesky details like ensuring plural possessives of surnames ending in S are formed correctly.

If you are self-publishing and looking to contain costs, you can combine line editing with either the developmental edit or the copy edit, if you find an editor who is trained in both disciplines. Under no circumstances skip proofreading. And don't try to do it yourself. No one can proofread their own work. Not even those of us who edit for a living.

April 11, 2012

A different way to think about character development

Photo illustration by Beniamin Pop
Os Hillman, writing at Marketplace Leaders, talks about three stages we go through in our Christian walk:

Stage One: “Bless me, Lord.” This is where we accept salvation. It is understanding that Jesus saves us.
Stage Two: “Help me, Lord.” Some of us reach this stage only when a crisis comes. It is understanding that we can do nothing in our own power.
Stage Three: “Have me, Lord." This is bowing to the complete lordship of Christ. it is understanding that we must yield our will to his.

Hillman asks, "Where are you today?" and this is a question we all need to answer.

But as a fiction writer, I also have to ask, "Where are my characters?" These stages are as applicable to the faith journey of a character in a novel as they are to the development of our own character. In any novel, the hero's inner journey -- in Christian fiction, his spiritual journey -- is as important as the outer journey described by the surface plot.

I recently completed the first draft of a novel in which the hero goes from agnosticism to Stage One. Meanwhile, the heroine progresses from Stage One to Stage Two. I hadn't realized it until I read Hillman's article, but that's what happens in that storyline. By keeping this in mind as I edit, I think I can bring these spiritual journeys into greater clarity.