What are the differences between the kinds of editing?
Developmental editing is a comprehensive analysis of the story, structure, characters, and language aspects of the work. A developmental editor (DE) usually has solid copyediting skills but works primarily on the story level. As a DE, my goal is to help a writer bring the work to its highest potential.
Line editing concentrates on language at the paragraph and sentence level to tighten your wording, weed out passive construction, and give your lines a better rhythm and flow. Line editing is often included in developmental editing to help writers strengthen their skills.
Copyediting is the process of fixing spelling and mechanical errors on the page, flagging suspected factual errors, and checking for problems in the format or presentation. A copyeditor (CE) wants to make sure your writing is clear, correct, and consistent. The CE’s goal is to inspire a reader’s confidence in your work by eliminating errors and ragged writing from the page. In my work, I’ll mark obvious errors and point out patterns and problem areas for the writer to address.
Proofreading is a term commonly thought to be interchangeable with copyediting, but it happens much later in the process. A manuscript must be proofread (“proofed”) as the last step before publication, in print or online, to catch any strays and make sure no new errors have been introduced.
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Pictured left: Silver Falls State Park, Oregon