Before you dive into doing a serious edit of your cozy mystery, you first need to make sure your story development is solid. You can either do this through hiring a developmental editor and being patient with that process, or you can take the time to self-edit your book. We have no preconceived notions about authors who self-edit their work, so whichever way you choose to go is up to you. However, we do feel it’s best to have an objective party to look at your work, but not every author can afford multiple levels of book editing.
With that said, let’s switch gears and focus on how your cozy mystery novel is written. We can do that through line editing services.
What is line editing?
Line editing is known by many names: substantive editing, line editing, or content editing. But no matter what you call it, it focuses on the same editing service. Put simply, a line editor helps you smooth out your narrative by working with your writing on the paragraph and sentence level. As a professional book editor, we accomplish this with several techniques that focus on how you executed your cozy mystery story.
Just like every cozy mystery novel needs to have a powerful hook that launches it, so does each chapter beginning. The first paragraph of each chapter—and especially the first paragraph of your first chapter—is tasked with doing this heavy lifting for the part of the story you’re telling. You want to start with an engaging scene that grabs readers’ attention. To this end, this paragraph needs to show readers why should keep reading.
With a cozy mystery novel, your readers want to be dazzled with your interesting themes, settings, and characters. Give them something funny and exciting to introduce them to your story, and they will definitely want to keep reading.
We also like to do deep editing work with the chapter endings to make sure the reader is enticed to keep moving onto the next chapter. It also needs to tie up any loose ends to make the narrative for the chapter feel complete. You want to resolve the scene, but you don’t want to resolve it too much—give them a bit of a cliffhanger that leaves them dying to know what comes next.
Complex Grammar Issues
Though a line edit primarily deals with more creative writing concepts, it does give line editors a window of opportunity to work with some of the technical aspects of your writing. This part of the line editor’s brain will identify any glaring grammatical issues that can get in the way of your story engaging your readers.
Don’t get it twisted—on the surface, there’s nothing wrong with passive voice. Many times, you might not even have a choice. But everywhere we see an opportunity to transition passive voice into active voice, we’ll make that correction/suggestion as a line editor. This change will make your writing much more impactful, even though the difference is only slight.
Look at the examples below to see which sounds better:
- The victim was covered by a blanket, and she was sure a dead body was underneath.
- The body-shaped lump underneath the blanket didn’t move, and she felt overwhelmingly sure this lump had stopped breathing . . . for good.
Ensuring an author’s writing is as concise as it can be works with a few different techniques as an editor:
- Repetition. Sometimes, repetition works well to create a rhythm that helps your writing flow well. However, other times, it can make your writing sound monotonous or flat. We look for repetition at the beginnings of paragraphs/sentences and through words used too often throughout the paragraph or entire novel.
- Sentence Length. Sentences that are too short should only be used intentionally to create an urgent rhythm, especially when you have a cluster of them. On the other hand, sentences that are too long can disrupt the flow of your scenes.
- Wordiness. Put simply, a sentence that is too wordy uses too many empty words that do nothing to contribute to the story. For example, that, just, in order, etc. In most cases, these words can simply be removed without losing any meaning.
There is no easy technique to label this as; sometimes, a sentence simply doesn’t make sense. If your editor has to read a sentence multiple times to understand it, you more than likely missed the mark. This realization shouldn’t mean that you’re writing is bad or your book isn’t good; it simply means there’s a better way to execute your scene that doesn’t confuse readers.
As line editors, we do our best to explain fully why we feel something needs to be edited. Whenever we see something that can be improved, we’ll show you why we think it needs changing, then we’ll give you some resources to help you understand the concept or rule better.
We may also have a need to point out some things that we felt inappropriate for us to change ourselves. Whenever this happens, it’s likely any changes we would have made would alter your voice or style, and that is not our job as your editor. This is your book, and the way you write is in your full control. We want to make it clear that it is not our aim to take over your narrative because we respect the story you want to tell.
Line Editing Pricing
Our line editing service includes editorial comments on your cozy mystery novel and direct edits wherever appropriate. You’ll receive your manuscript back with detailed editorial comments and resource links (if necessary) to help you guide you through any changes we feel you should make paragraph by paragraph.
Pricing starts at .025/word.