Line editing is an intensive examination of tone and style. This process highlights how a minimal amount of reorganisation made within a paragraph, or a slight tweak of the wording, improves the quality of the prose. This is a necessary step for any author who aspires to elevate their work to a quality publishable standard.
The role of a line editor is to scour microscopic details through a wide-angle lens: to address the creative content, while remaining mindful of the overarching narrative themes and general tone. Throughout this meticulous analysis, alternative word choices will be suggested to add weight or meaning to a sentence. A line editor will also recommend subtle alterations to sentences and paragraphs to enhance the clarity of the story, or add significance to the author’s intentions.
This essential aspect of editing is a metrical art, more focused on style than mechanics. Much like a poem, each individual word will be considered on its merits. By paying close attention to the use of language and how the story is communicated to the reader, authors will be exposed to new creative skills that will help to make them a better a writer.
A line editor will ask authors the following questions:
- Could you show this to the reader, rather than tell?
- Is the inclusion of backstory relevant, or does it impair the pace of the plot?
- Does each sentence add to the story and carry the reader forward?
- Is the phrasing or dialogue clichéd, confused or unnecessary?
- Is there effective and realistic progression of the story and its themes?
A line editor will also make some of the following suggestions:
- A different word/choice of words to add atmosphere or meaning
- An alternative synonym to avoid repetition
- The embellishment of setting or description
- Removal of paragraphs or part of a sentence to tighten the pace
- Structural changes to add better flow to transitions