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You mean there are different levels of EDITING???

Yes, that's right! Editing comes in different levels, depending on your needs and the stage you're at in writing your piece. Here's the lowdown on the different levels.

First level: Developmental/content editing

This is (hopefully) the early stage of editing, when you're still trying to figure out your story. You may have written it already, but maybe your plot needs some help. Maybe your characters need some finessing. Maybe your book isn't being snatched up by agents, and you don't know why. A developmental/content editor can help you gauge the market and fully flesh out your story. This type of editing is done on a grand, macroscopic scale and may involve big swaths of cutting and rewriting. Hello, revision! (Like, literally re-visioning.)

Second level: Line editing

After you have the generals of your story down—and after you've done all the big revisions (again, there's that word: hopefully), you're ready for line edits. Line editing is the highest level of copy editing—so high, it sometimes comes as its own level. Line editing is the microscopic to developmental/content editing's macroscopic. At this level, your sentences and paragraphs undergo the transformative magic of syntax polishing. A line editor will hack up your sentences, rearrange them, sometimes add new words, sometimes even ghostwrite a little bit. Much of this level of editing is about style. This is where your story's language and dialogue becomes readable and seemless. Along the way, you may get some develomental/content editing. Line editors catch much with their detail-oriented eyes.

Third level: Copy editing

Once your piece has gone through massive and detailed changes, it's ready for copy edits. A copy editor looks at usage and grammar. They follow stylebooks like the Chicago Manual of Style (the stylebook for fiction). A copy editor tells you where the commas are supposed to go (or not go), when your subjects in your clauses aren't matching up, when you should use lie instead of lay, where you should hyphenate, and other topics that will probably make you yawn (though copy editors get really excited about these types of edits—often, they even have lively debates about them). Copy editors will often fact-check too. A good copy edit is an absolute necessity for your piece, whether it's a novel, short story, honors thesis, or blog post.

Fourth level: Proofreading

Proofreaders fix typos, punctuation errors, and other small issues that might get missed at the copy editing level. This is the final level before publication and is sometimes done on the designed document itself. A proofreader won't necessarily read your story; they may actually read it backwards to catch the mistakes!

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