The line edit is the only point where I feel I can legitimately turn the book over to another editor, even though I don’t. The line edit looks for missing words, doubled words, various typos and overused constructions.
I change the font, both size and color, so that it looks different on the screen. I catch a lot of typos that way simply because my brain assumes if it LOOKS different then it IS different. I catch more when reading on paper, but I hate to print out a copy of the book until I think it’s finished.
This is also my “backward” edit, where I start from the end and read backward one sentence at a time.
This is where I look for words like “that,” “of,” or gerunds (words ending in ING) linked to a verb. If “that” can be replaced with another word, it’s often being used wrong. Do I have too many adverbs (as unlikely as that may seem)? I also look for any passive voice. Use of the word “was” is not the only form of passive voice.
I look for any of the following linked to or used as a verb: Could, should, may, might, must, have, has, had, shall, will, would, can, is, are, was, were, be, being, and been. I mark all of these in my document and go through them to verify if it really needs to be there. Sometimes passive voice is the best way to get my point across (for example if something really did happen in the past) but often I use it as a crutch.
Words used incorrectly, such as than and then, or their, they’re and their. I know the difference, but sometimes my brain…no, let’s not malign the brain. Sometimes my <i>fingers</i> get confused.
I also have various phrases that I know I use way too much, such as the word “breathed” used as a dialogue tag. I use the word “amused” a lot, and a few others. I keep a cumulative list in my editing file.
So the line edit is the catch-all. All the major problems should have been fixed previously, although once in a while I find something at this stage and the book has to go back to one of the other edits.
If I find major plot problems in edit 7 the book has to go back to the plot edit. If I find description problems in edit 6, it has to go back to the description edit. These are major issues, not little stuff, and usually in a case like this I cheat and skip the other edits for everything but the pieces that have been massively changed. If it can be easily solved without another edit, I just take care of it.
I want it to be right.
In essence, I spend one to two months writing and four to six months editing. While I’m editing I’m writing the next one…or two…or three…
Right now I’m so far behind, I’ll never catch up. 🙂
Edit 1 Plot edit / Triage edit
Edit 2 Voice
Edit 3 Emotion
Edit 4 Description
Edit 5 Full read-through
Edit 6 Auditory
Edit 7 Line Edit
Once all edits are done, it’s time for the next step–query or self-publish.