What is it? Why do only some editors offer it and some don't? If its not always offered, is it necessary? Isn't it the same as a content edit? Yes and no.
The Line Edit- What is it?
In its truest form, a line edit is the completion of a content edit. A line edit is an extremely focused and detailed look at individual sentences and lines. It is a content edit of specific lines and paragraphs.
A content edit fixes issues requiring you to look at full pages and scenes at a time. For more on what a content edit is, visit my post The content edit: What it is and why it should be your first edit. After erasing and rearranging and rewriting, you need to do another kind of content edit fine tune the details to help complete the content edit.
Things We Look For: Line Edit vs Content Edit
1. Unnatural sounding or vague words
2. Sentence structure
3. Dialogue length and authenticity
4. Dialogue tag's effectiveness and necessity
5. Overlong descriptions or flashbacks.
1. Overall tone
2. Major plot arch and plot holes
3. Character likeability, authenticity, and believeability
4. Reoccurring issues (things that we generally look for in a line edit may be so obvious and so often that they are noticeable at this level and are mentioned in a content edit)
5. Overall consistency
Why Do Some Editors Only Offer Content Edits?
In short, some editors combine the two. Some editors believe they can do both at the same time. I would argue they can't. Once you change major content issues, many of the line edits the editor made will be void. If they fix a line you end up cutting for major plot or character development, you've paid for something you don't need. After a content edit, you'll likely need a second pass through to make sure the issues are fixed. Only after your major story is right can you then focus on details.
Also, In order to be thorough, editors should narrow down their focus to only a few things at a time. Its common to focus on a few things at the beginning and then abandon them later on in favor of a new issue. But it's also common for the issues they looked for in the beginning to continue throughout the whole book.
Look for an editor that does both kinds of edits, separately. You'll make sure you get your money's worth and receive a detailed set of edits to contribute to your whole book.
Questions? Comments? Horror stories? Leave them in the comments below!
P.S. Dream Edit Repeat offers a line editing package. You can check it out on our products page. Line edits can only be done after the content is solid. If you have not had your work previously edited for content, consider starting with our content editing package first.
If you aren't sure what package you need, shoot me an email and we can figure it out together :)