• Chris OBrien

What is line editing? Here's an example

We will have more posts in the future about line editing, copy editing, developmental editing, and what's the difference between these various options. For today, I wanted to show you a real-life example that showed up this morning when I was editing one of my own chapters.

Here's the original text:

Another shortcut is to do nothing. Avoid the decision altogether. This is where "I'm good with whatever" lives.
Another aspect going on here is the "Paradox of Choice." In theory, we think having a bunch of choices is a good thing but, in practice, too many choices freaks us out.
Using that dinner question from earlier, when the choice was, "What do you want for dinner?" that's way too much, too many options available. But think about what happens as it became more specific. Italian? No. Chinese? Nah, had that for lunch. One way to make decisions easier is to contain the choices to two or three options so we can start weighing out the tangible pros and cons.
Another way to defeat "I'm good with whatever" by deciding what we're having for dinner right away in the morning. Our brains haven't been worn down yet by work. At seven in the morning, we go from "I'm good with whatever" to being a creative contestant on Chopped. Open up the fridge: Ok, I see we've got a half-used thing of ketchup, a couple leftover slices of Digiorno, and a thing of shredded Mexican cheese. Alright, got it! We're going with a strange five-layer lasagna.

A good line editor would spot that three out of four consecutive paragraphs started with "Another." This doesn't read well and needs a little bit of variety. The line editor would change the openings to be something like:

The other shortcut is to do nothing...
There's another aspect going on here called...
We can also defeat "I'm good with whatever" by deciding...

But notice, no grammar was changed. The line editor is not looking for typos or missed commas.

They aren't looking at the big picture either. They're not telling you, "Hey, this chapter might be better earlier in your book. And let's talk about the pacing."

For more clarity on the editing stage, stay tuned to our blog or email us directly at library@longoverduestories.com

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