Brenda Hill 

  Book Editing Services

What Does an Editor Do?

When I edit your book or analyze your 1st Chapter, I read it through and note my impressions. How is the flow? Are dramatic events - plot points - placed right according to modern story structure? Forget the myth that plot points are formulaic; they're simply places in a story where dramatic events should occur. Once you have a basic skeleton, you can build your individual story. After all, we humans have similar skeletons, but no two people, except perhaps twins, look alike.

During the first reading, I’m not overly concerned with typos, wrong word usage etc; instead, I’m interested in how the story is written. Is it interesting? Would I ignore the nagging clock to keep reading? If so, then I can concentrate on other elements - sentence structure, typos, etc.

If I’m fidgeting, wondering what’s on TV, thinking I should be cleaning the oven instead of reading, I wonder why. I go through the manuscript again and make notes: do the different acts have the necessary elements to invite me to continue reading? Does the story question intrigue me? Does it HAVE a story question?

And answer?

Are there cliffhangers? Is the writing suspenseful? And dialogue. Is it stilted? Stiff? Sound unnatural? Are the tags properly written? And most of all, does the first chapter seduce me into reading more? If not, what’s lacking? What's needed? Can I rearrange the writer’s sentences to transform the chapter into something enticing?

That’s generally what I do as an editor, and it doesn’t count all the extras I do to help your manuscript. Each step is time-consuming, drawing on my expertise, experience, and gut-feeling. Just like a detective works to solve a mystery, so do I work to determine what’s needed to turn a dull manuscript into something dynamic.

Some specifics:

I offer Line/Copyediting, Content Editing, & 1st Chapter Analysis.
 
Examples:

Line Editing:
Line editing is time-consuming as I go over each word to make sure it's used properly. The common misused words are:

to, too, two                they're, their, there            affect, effect
                                                            course, coarse               accept, except               bare, bear
       weather, whether           hair, hare                       here, hear,            
    war, wore                  week, weak                 advise, advice
                                                                  our, are                    meet, meat                      

Simple words, but when a manuscript is riddled with misspelled and/or misused words, it signals to an agent that the writer hasn't done his/her homework. Or worse, that the writer is sloppy. The next logical conclusion is, if the writer is sloppy in grammar, the writer is also sloppy in the storytelling. More often than not, the manuscript is tossed.

Don't let that happen to you.

An Example:

A SCENE BEFORE LINE/COPY EDITING:
 
Sandra glanced out the window in her third-story office, wishing she were heading home on this dreary, rainy day. But she had to get the report completed, had promised her boss she have the sales report on his desk by eight in the morning.
          
Below, downtown Los Angeles spread in every direction, and even in the rain, hordes of people scurried about, rushing to their cars, bus stop, or to the Metro Link for they're ride home after another work-day in the City of Angels.
           
Angels. Sandra thought of her daughter, Joy. Blonde hair and blue-eyed, she truly looked like the blessing she was, born after years of trying for a baby and finally giving up. Her husband, raised in a Italian family of six siblings, never understood why she so desperately wanted a baby. But Sandra was an only child, lost in her parent's scramble in the academic world. She longed for someone just for her, to love and to love her in return.
           
They were going to celebrate her fifth birthday this weekend, and as it got closer and closer, Joy kept up a steady chatter of questions about the big surprise her mother had promised. A three-day trip to Disneyland wasn't in Sandra's budget, but they had been through so much with the divorce and change in babysitters. And Joy missed her father so much, even though he hadn't been affectionate with her.
           
Suddenly, a man across the street caught her attention. She couldn't say why; she couldn't even see his face under the black umbrella. He wore a long gray raincoat. Curious now, Sandra kept watching. He seemed to be pacing the man about 5 feet in front of him. The man in back took a gun from his briefcase, held it at his side, then rushed up to the man in front, raised the gun and fired. The man dropped. The man with the gun fired too more shots. Some people stopped and stared, others hurried away. The people who stopped didn't look at the gunman; they stared at the fallen man. One woman rushed to him and kneeled by his side. The man with the gun dropped the weapon into his briefcase, then, as if suddenly aware of someone watching him, glanced up at the window. He stopped. They're gazes locked. Sandra stumbled back from the window, still able to see him. He was still looking at her window. She felt behind her for her desk lamp and switched it off. Too late. He was crossing the street toward her building.

THE SCENE AFTER LINE/COPY EDITING::
 
Sandra glanced out her third-story office window, wishing she were home with her daughter on this dreary, rainy day. But she had to get the report completed, had promised Rich she'd have the intricate sales report on his desk by eight in the morning.

Below, downtown Los Angeles spread in every direction, and people scurried about, rushing to their cars, bus stop, or to the Metro Link for their trip home after another workday in the City of Angels.

Angels. Sandra thought of her daughter, Joy. Blonde hair and blue-eyed, she was a blessing, born after years of trying for a baby and finally giving up. They were going to celebrate her fifth birthday this weekend, and Joy had kept up a steady chatter of questions about the big surprise her mother had promised. A day at Disneyland wasn't in Sandra's budget, but they had been through so much with the divorce and change in babysitters that Sandra decided to treat her daughter to a special day. Joy missed her father, even though he hadn't been affectionate with her, and she didn't understand why he was no longer there.

Suddenly, a man across the street caught her attention. She couldn't say why; she couldn't even see his face under the black umbrella. He wore a long gray raincoat and carried a briefcase.

Curious now, Sandra kept watching. He was keeping pace with the man five feet in front of him. He took a gun from his briefcase, then, holding it at his side, moved closer to the man in front. He aimed at the man's back and fired. The wounded man dropped. The gunman fired two more shots. Some people stopped and stared; others hurried away. No one looked at the gunman; they all stared at the fallen man. One woman rushed to him and kneeled by his side. The man with the gun dropped the weapon into his briefcase, then, as if suddenly aware of someone watching him, glanced up at the window. He stopped. Their gazes locked. Sandra stumbled back from the window, still able to see him. He was still looking at her window. She felt behind her for her desk lamp and switch it off. Too late. He was crossing the street toward her building.
 
To read the above scene after Content Editing, click here