I seek out typos, misspellings, the vagaries of Spellcheck, as well as wording, phrases, or sentences that could be smoother, clearer or both; continuity and timeline issues. When I catch something, I’ll mark the location and offer suggested changes and usually the reasoning behind the catch, followed by my suggested edits. I’ll dig into grammar and sentence structure, which can be tricky in novels written in a loosely conversational style, but always with an eye toward consistency with the narrative style of the work. The goal is to improve clarity and structure without losing the flavor of the story or characters. Continuity can run afoul of rewrites and updates and so, it’s something I pay particular attention to in the editing process. The color of your character’s car won’t change from chapter to chapter, unless it’s supposed to and all sorts of little details will be tracked for consistency.
More “editorial” editorial comments are usually questions, me pushing for more information or more detail in scenes, or me trying to pull more out of the characters, the story or you; with the occasional historical digression or rant thrown in for fun.
I believe it’s my job to push for more and to help pull as much as we can out of the story.
That said, other than typos and corrections to punctuation or grammar, everything is a suggestion. These are not my decisions to make, they are yours – no matter how long or detailed my arguments might be, and I believe that with my whole heart. If you want a sounding board, push back and I’ll do whatever I can to help clarify anything in question. If you consider a suggested change but don’t think it adds to your book, I will always respect your decisions.
A few examples:
loc. 927: Henry James and Peter searched the cowshed for the missing documents.
Corrected: Henry, James and Peter searched the cow shed for …
Loc. 1053: His father meant the task as a way to test his metal.
Editor Notes: unclear – is Father testing a metallic object – tin, brass, iron? that would be metal or is Father testing his son’s personal strengths &/or fortitude? in this case, it would be mettle
loc. 2091 This is a Damascus steel blade made by a local artisan, a Master Smith in blade making
Corrected: a mastersmith in blade making
Editor Notes: mastersmith is only capitalized when referring to someone who is one by name, as in “this blade was made by Mastersmith Tom Swift, a local artisan.” mastersmith, uncapitalized, refers to the occupation, as in “Bob was treated by a local doctor.” I’m going on too long here, aren’t I? DIllon is not incorrect to use Master as she doesn’t know the blade maker’s actual name, here Master stands in its place – I would use “…guy that made it is a ‘Master’” as she’s referring to the title
As you can see, I offer both grammatical and style edits, as well as notes and suggestions based on general knowledge. My goal is to ensure your manuscript is typo free, grammatically correct, and that it presents your ideas clearly without misinformation.