Types of Editing

There are a variety of editing levels. Which one you need depends on where you are with your manuscript. So, which one is right for you?

Learn more, below.

Ready to have your manuscript edited? Learn about my editing services here.


Conceptual Editing – Exploring ideas and working on the big picture of your project.

Content Editing – Story logic, structure, character development and exploring the reading experience.

Stylistic Editing – Passive versus active voice, word choice and flow, transitions and style.

Copy Editing – Correcting grammar and spelling and conforming to standard style guidelines.

Proofreading – Final check for surface errors, typos, and formatting.


This is something of a brainstorming phase, when you want someone with story and structure experience to take a look at your ideas and see if what you have makes sense. Before you go to all the effort of actually writing out a full novel, it’s good to have some feedback on whether or not your outline and ideas are going to come together in a way that drives interest and results in a worthwhile story.


A developmental edit focuses on the big picture of a story, such as plot, characterization, setting, point of view (POV), etc. Since every manuscript has different issues, developmental editing may point out anything from problems with theme, to inconsistent characters, to unfinished plot arcs. This kind of editing is useful once the author has written the whole project and is looking for general feedback, before polishing things like grammar and format.

If writing is like building a house, it’s the editor’s job to come in and make sure that everything will stay standing, so that it doesn’t come crashing down later. You know, in case you accidentally forgot a wall somewhere. Don’t worry, it happens. That’s what editors are for.

Developmental editing can come in a variety of formats, like feedback in a lengthy letter or direct manuscript editing, which may include moving paragraphs to improve story flow, deleting big repetitions or filler, and tracking the continuity of plot, setting, and character. I often include a variety of comments throughout the manuscript, then provide overall feedback in a letter.

**When looking for the right developmental editor, don’t just compare price. Compare the value of what you’re getting and the compatibility between the two of you. You could send your manuscript to five editors and get different thoughts and answers back from each one. Choose the editor who best suits your needs, and helps you grow.**



Line editing means goes through a manuscript line by line, to improve overall flow, readability, and clarity. This includes smoothing awkward sentences, tightening wordiness, suggesting transitions, and improving word choices. Because every word has its own personality, it’s important to use the right one for the right purpose (screaming vs. shouting).

This is the second phase of the editing cycle. The story itself has been all laid out and now we’re making sure that it’s presented in the best way.



This is what most people think editing is. A copy editor follows standardized rules of grammar and style. There are three different levels of copy editing. The heavier the level, the more time it takes (and the greater the expense).

Light – Corrects errors of spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and word usage (their/they’re/there). Ensures consistency of spelling, punctuation, and numbers (spelled vs. numeral).

Medium – Light copyediting, plus: ensures consistency of tone, changes headings to achieve consistent structure, flags inappropriate figures of speech and conflicting statements.

Heavy – Medium copyediting, plus: removes wordiness, smooths transitions, moves sentences to improve readability, and suggests additions and deletions. The line between heavy copyediting and substantive editing is often blurred, and can mean the same thing to some people.



This is a final check before publishing. A proofreader checks the entire manuscript, word for word, either against typeset copy or as an ebook format to correct any last surface errors. This includes word spacing, font consistency, stray punctuation and grammar errors that were missed during copyediting, and much more. No big changes can be made to the manuscript at this level. It’s the final safety inspection before going to press.


Ready to have your manuscript edited? Learn about my editing services here.






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