Today, I will share a trade secret with you. Shhhh. Pull down the blinds, turn off the phone, and promise you won't tell a soul. Just kidding. You can share it with any writer you want. There is a great deal of confusion in the publishing business about what constitutes a macro edit and exactly what an editor is looking for during the edit.
Because I use experienced freelance fiction editors who may have worked for other publishers and editors, I decided to research as many sources as possible, talk to other editors, and come up with a one-page set of instructions that is sent to any freelancer who works on one of our author's manuscripts.
The rest of this blog will contain those instructions. I'm sure some of you will disagree with many of my guidelines; others may celebrate that someone actually wrote these secrets down.
My next post after this one will cover the content/substantive/line edit. It's called many things by many different people, but after another exhaustive search into linguistics, I found out that we were all talking about the same set of rules/suggestions.
Take these guidelines for a macro edit and apply them to your writing, your editing, and share them freely. If you want to add anything, please leave a comment. Here you go . . .
GUIDE FOR FREELANCE EDITORS: MACRO EDIT, ABINGDON PRESS FICTION
Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged
Both of these resources are available online
A macro edit should detail for the author any suggested changes in character, plot, pacing, structure, point of view, dialogue, or other major issues that would help make the manuscript stronger.
Did the author begin the novel too early or include too much back story? Did the story begin too late? Are the characters' actions and dialogue consistent and believable?
Is the main plot clearly resolved? Is there enough conflict to make the story compelling? Do the turning points/inciting incidents appear in the right places?
Is a subplot necessary or is it a “rabbit trail”? Would a subplot enrich the book? Does the plot sag in places? Is there a satisfying balance between narrative and dialogue?
Does the author “tell” instead of “show” in places? Is the point of view consistent or does it leap back and forth in the same scene, causing "bouncing-head syndrome"? Are there redundant descriptions and scenes? Does the author tie up all loose ends by the end of the book?
Please use comment boxes within the manuscript to point out those places where a manuscript can be strengthened. As you read through the manuscript, please feel free to correct obvious spelling or grammatical errors or highlight examples of pet words and repetitive sentence structure.
Also prepare a cover sheet for general comments. This allows the in-house editor and the author to see overall comments without having to scroll through the text.
The in-house editor will pass this letter on to the author along with the manuscript and the imbedded comments. That means you are asked to be diplomatic, sensitive, and tactful in all your communications. If you encounter a problem you feel you cannot broach gracefully, you should contact the in-house editor with your concern.
This list contains general instruction but is not an exhaustive list of items to check. Use The Chicago Manual of Style as your guide.
It is your job to suggest changes to the author by using comment boxes in the electronic version of the manuscript.
Use Microsoft Word or save the file in MS-Word format.
Work with Word's Track Changes feature turned on. Every edit you make must be tracked.
Always keep the author’s voice in mind. It is the author’s work, not the editor’s.
Always be tactful and gracious in your remarks.
Once the macro edit is complete, it is sent back to the author for a rewrite. Some authors have little to do and it may only take a day; other authors' manuscripts may take up to three or four weeks to fix.
When the manuscript with the author's changes is sent back to the in-house editor, it then enters the content/substantive/line edit stage. More about that in another blog.
If you found this information helpful, will you please leave a comment? As most of you know by now, I want this blog to be a two-way conversation. Thanks for your participation!