Editing Fiction


Editing fiction is a challenging yet rewarding task. Fiction is my favorite genre to read and write, so I feel privileged to edit other people’s novels. At Book Magic, we have spent decades copyediting fiction, so we know exactly what to look for.

First, we do all the basics. We look for problems with spelling, typos, grammar and punctuation. We not only correct these, but we also stylize. Sometimes editing is a little bit like math; a word is either right, or it’s wrong. Let’s take the word perpendicular. There is only one way to spell it, and if you spell it differently, it’s going to be wrong. But there are two ways to spell the word heavenly or earthly (one is by putting the word in lowercase as I have above, and the other is to capitalize the term. Neither one of those is right or wrong, but rather whichever you choose is a matter of style.

The same is true of serial commas. Let’s take the sentence, “Steve went to the liquor store and bought wine, beer, and champagne.” That sentence has two commas separating each one of the items. It is punctuated using a serial comma, also known as the Oxford comma. But some people don’t like serial commas, so they might prefer to write, “Steve went to the liquor store and bought wine, beer and champagne.” Both sentences are right. But each one uses a different style.

At Book Magic, we confer with the client to find out which style he or she prefers, and then we make up a style sheet to ensure that this type of punctuation or spelling is consistent throughout the document.

We also look at inconsistencies or redundancies. This is easy to do in a novel. You create a character who is a fourteen-year-old nephew in chapter 2, but suddenly in chapter 17, he becomes eleven. And there were no time machines involved! We will highlight these inconsistencies and bring them to the attention of the author. Redundancy means that the author may describe a character as devious or underhanded and repeat this five or ten times throughout the book. That’s overkill. It’s unnecessary. We often recommend showing the reader instead of telling the reader that your character is shady.

And, last, when we edit fiction, we look at repetitious words. In my first book, I used the word however about twenty-five times.┬áI was completely unaware of this until someone else pointed it out to me. One of my romance writers used the word steamy fourteen times in three pages. Our copyediting staff will bring these┬áissues to the writer’s attention; we will also suggest synonyms for variety.

Editing fiction is a joy, and we are honored to be part of your journey in publishing your first or your twenty-first novel. We also use special programs like Grammarly and PerfectIt to catch as many mistakes as possible. This allows you, the writer, to concentrate on the creative aspect of the story while we fine-tune your manuscript. 1.5 cents per word