Types of Editing
There are so many types of editing and many names for each process. Here is a quick list of the ones that apply to what I do. If you want to learn more about editing departments at a publishing house and how a manuscript goes from idea to book, this is a great overview from Writer's Digest: http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/business-legal-matters/publishing-101-what-you-need-to-know
Also known as Manuscript Critique. Here an editor will read your project and point out any big picture issues. This is a very helpful tool if you aren't sure how much editing your piece may need or what changes you may want to consider before editing. I usually provide a three to five page report on the overall tone of the manuscript and give specific recommendations and feedback.
Sometimes referred to as "proofreading", though this is a separate task at the end of the process. Copyediting will correct the grammar, usage, punctuation, sentence structure, spelling, and word choice. There are different levels to copyediting, of which the heaviest level crosses into some developmental editing. Click on the Services button for more information. Copyediting is my main service, by far.
Here we are getting deeper into the editing process. Developmental editing looks at the entire piece and an editor will usually need to move sections around, rewrite sentences, suggest alternative wording, and make other changes to improve the clarity and consistency in the manuscript. I've listed the most common areas below.
Characters: How well developed are the characters? Are their motives consistent? Do they help move the plot along? Are there too many characters?
Pacing: Are there areas where the plot drags a bit? Are you creating the right amount of tension/suspense that you want? Do you use action and dialogue to "show, not tell" what is going on? Is there a lot of description and exposition that slows the pace?
World-Building: If you are creating a new world in your novel, are the rules and constructs created consistent and clear throughout the book?
Point of View: Are you using the best POV for your work? Does that POV fit your genre? Is your POV consistent throughout the book? There are so many great blog posts on this topic, and I can't just pick one. Google "head hopping POV" for starters.
Plot: Are there huge holes or paths that don't make sense? Is there enough conflict to make the plot interesting? Is there enough conclusion to satisfy the reader? Not every book needs all of the loose ends to be tied up, but it's usually good to yank a knot or two in your main storyline.
Does your manuscript explain and answer the issues you are addressing?
Do the points build on one another to create a logical path to the conclusion? Is the organization of the piece helping you reach that conclusion?
Does the language used make your points clear for your intended audience?
Is there repetition that could be eliminated?
Traditionally, proofreading is looking for errors in the "proofs" of a manuscript. This is the final step before publication. Many people use this term interchangeably with copyediting. There is a difference, though we are probably thinking of the same concept- finding and correcting errors.