Editing by Troy

Development and line editing for new and experienced authors

Rates: 3 cents per word for Development/Line editing, or $20/hour for projects where a word count isn’t an appropriate metric.


  • Fiction: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
  • NonFiction: Longform Narrative, Journalistic, Memoir, How To

There is an old rule in journalism that despite the need to edit your own work, one should never rely on their own editing. Normally, in print journalism, an editor would edit for content and length. Did the journalist’s work have a lede (a fancy way of spelling “lead”)? Was it written in inverted pyramid style, and was it the right length to fit in the hole on the newspaper page or magazine spread that it was slotted to be in?

Book editing has a different focus. Before and during the writing process, most authors need a developmental editor. When I began writing my historical fantasy series I thought I could go without, and quickly learned otherwise. I was too close to what I was writing. A fresh set of eyes, from someone who understood the craft of storytelling, was needed.

Never rely on your own editing.

You’re too close to your work. You’ve written and re-written. You know what you deleted. You know the context and the backstory. Your development editor will help you see what parts of that are just that. Backstory.

A good line editor will help you find the places where you know the backstory but don’t give your readers enough to understand. Or, they’ll find where your exposition is too much, and your story drags.

Development + Line Editing

Developmental editing is an examination of the story construction and its underlying framework.

Line editing is a look at the writing itself, and how it is used to create the story built on top of the story’s framework from the developmental edit.

I like to give feedback on both when I edit. Most stories need some light development editing. Most manuscripts I’ve seen fall into this category. They can use some help to tweak the development (plot, character development, etc.) of the story, but mostly need a line edit to sharpen their prose and storytelling ability.

Occasionally, when reading a piece, the editor finds enough areas of concern in plot and characterization that a development edit needs to be performed before a line edit should begin. For stories that need a deeper dive into the development side, I’d advise you of this, and we can reconfigure the time involved and rates necessary.

What about Proofreading?

What most people think of when they hear or use the term “editing” is actually proofreading. In journalistic terms, it’s also called Copy Editing. This is when you look for those red lines under the words on the computer screen.

I seem to be really really good at duplicating words. (See what I did there with really?)

If you read one of my manuscripts before a proofread, you’ll find lots of duplicated words. I suspect this is my brain trying to slow down to let my fingers keep up as they type. But then my brain stutters, repeating a word, so my fingers type the same word again again. (That one was on purpose to illustrate the point.)

In today’s world of high-tech, you can spend some time yourself with the proofread. Or pay a college student to proofread for you. Or find a professional proofreader. I personally use Grammarly (I’ve got it active as I type this).

So, what do you do?

I work with authors when they have a manuscript they believe is ready for a line edit.

I learn about the story they want to tell. I read their work (outline or manuscript) and look at the underlying story structure, the characters, the shifts in each scene. The author and I discuss back and forth what works, what needs to be tweaked, changed or scrapped and redone. Not just what, but why.

This is the part of the process that has to be done right. The story has to have structure, even in non-fiction. The characters have to change and grow (or fade). A developmental editor is a shepherd through the author’s process of pulling the story from idea to completion.

Sometimes, a story structure is already in good shape and only needs line editing to spiff up the writer’s work. During a line edit, I work to find ways to, as Stephen King says, delete the unnecessary words while maintaining the author’s style and voice. In a line edit, I pay attention to writing techniques like using sensory details to draw the reader into the setting. I look to see if the writer is using enough status details, and in the right places, to paint their characters and settings as three-dimensional beings and locations. A good story isn’t just read, it’s felt by the reader. It’s experienced by the reader.

All of the line editing is done with the track changes features of MS Word. You, the author get to see the work, the changes, and the comments. You then accept or decline them as you see fit. Hiring an editor to put a second set of eyes on your manuscript at this stage serves to help you tighten and finesse your craft.

My areas of interest

My primary focus of study while earning my Master’s degree in journalism was on long-form narrative non-fiction. I studied the works of John McPhee, Hunter S. Thompson, Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Eric Larson and others. Instead of a thesis, I embedded with a political campaign and wrote a 25,000 word long-form narrative of the experience.

For fiction authors, I have read extensively in fantasy, urban and paranormal fantasy, science fiction and historical fantasy. My favorite authors include Laurell K. Hamilton, Anne Rice, Robert A. Heinlein, David Eddings, Barry Hughgart, and many others.

Developmental Editing

How much does this cost?

My hourly rate is 3 cents per word in your manuscript, or $20/hour if we’re working on a development edit with limited manuscript available.

Remember: editing, especially development editing, goes far beyond just reading your work and looking for ways to delete unnecessary words. I’ll look at each scene and track character growth, scene shifting, emotional and status changes. I’ll spend time making my own notes and adding inline comments to the manuscript or outline. I spend time chatting with you about your story.

This includes more than just the time to read your work. I look at each scene and track character grown, scene shifting, emotional and status changes. I’ll spend time making my own notes and adding inline comments to the manuscript or outline. I spend time chatting with you about your story.

A 100,000 word manuscript for Line Editing + simplified Development checking should take about 40 to 50 hours.

I can get a good idea of a price ceiling for your project, based seeing the outline, and knowing the word count of the manuscript.

If you’re interested in taking your story telling up a notch, whether in the developmental or the line editing stages (or both), use the contact form below to email me about your project. If you’re looking for a line edit, I’d be happy to provide a sample edit on a single chapter (up to 2,000 words) so you can see what kind of line edit I’ll perform.