Any writer worth their salt knows that they’ll need to deal with an editor during their road to publication. It’s also important to know that not all editors have the same job.
This is a quick breakdown of who these people are and what they do, so you can make an informed decision for shaping your story.
Editor Type 1: Developmental / Substantive (Big Picture)
The experience of the story from start to finish. It’s scene by scene, chapter by chapter, and the sequence of events as the reader experiences them. Common complaints when a book is in need of a developmental edit are things like:
“It felt like it started as one story and then turned into something else.”
“Pace of the story picked up as the book progressed, but background information was repetitive.”
Editor Type 2: Line Edits (Paragraph Level)
Sentence flow and clarity. This is how the reader sinks into the story. Mistakes at a line-edit level tend to kick a reader out of a story, making it a challenge to pull them back in and regain their trust. Common complaints when a story is in need of a better line edit are things like:
“The characters suddenly acted in ways that didn’t fit with how they’d been acting previously.”
“It feels like the author is just using real world jargon but didn’t actually do a full amount of research.”
Editor Type 3: Copy Edits (Sentence Level)
Consistency – when changes are made in one place but are not caught in others, as well as how the author chose to present terms/facts/etc “skateboard” vs “skate-board”, but also in terms of POV and in grammatical correctness. Common complains when a story is in need of a better copy edit are things like:
“There were lots of sentence fragments.”
“The tense and point-of-view were often inconsistent. It was distracting and resulted in awkward prose, which prevented the story from fully developing.”
Editor Type 4: Proofreading (Word Level)
This is all the nitty-gritty things as the most basic level of the written English language. Punctuation, spelling, incorrect word usage such as “their they’re there”. When these errors are made, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the author doesn’t know how to write, it just means that there are many times a mistype can blend into the background when an author is reading over their own work.