Updated: May 11, 2021
The first draft
Once you have shaped and structured your novel, you can begin polishing that prose until it shines.
Line editing – means literally that. Editing your work line-by-line to make sure every sentence works for you to tell your story.
Line editing focuses on style and you can correct any grammatical errors you come across as you go, but focus is on impactful sentences which are clear and interesting.
Have you made strong, evocative word choices? A line edit is a fine detailed edit after the big sweeping pass of the structural edit.
If a structural edit gives you the shape of the story, line edit paints the details making your writing polished and better.
Line edits are followed by copy edits, where you will focus on the mechanics of your writing, ensuring spelling, punctuation and grammar are correct.
Line editing checklist:
Adverbs – She slammed the door angrily.
Adverbs are unnecessary and weaken the reading experience. “Angrily” is not needed. The slamming of the door already suggests she was angry.
Destroy those adverbs and your writing will become more dynamic, pacey and fun to read.
Unnecessary words – are words that we use in everyday language.
The giant pounded his fists into the ground, which caused the boulders which were either side of him to rattle and shake, making Karen’s knees tremble, and because of this she could not move.
The giant pounded his fists into the ground. The boulders either side of him rattled and shook. Karen’s knees trembled; she could not move.
Cutting unnecessary words from your writing and changing a few tenses can make a scene feel more immediate, dynamic and interesting; as highlighted in the second example.
Edit your first draft – by structure, by chapter, by line.
Did you create the perfect opening, middle and end?
Have you created tension?
Have you included cliff-hangers?
Do you know your characters inside and out?
Did you include obstacles?
Do you know your audience?