|Resources used for editing:
Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition
The Associated Press Stylebook
The Copyeditor's Handbook
Links to online editing resources
Grammar and Writing
Online Writing Lab
to Grammar and
Style by Jack Lynch
for whom English is a second language
|Two Brothers Press performs two types of editorial evaluations:
- The first evaluation is a sample edit and evaluation
of the first ten or more pages
of a manuscript, free of charge, and will consist of intense editing of the
items listed below.
- The second editorial evaluation is more formal.
Writers who want to know if their manuscripts are already in good shape
to submit to agents or publishers will want this type of evaluation. It
does not consist of any sample editing. The entire manuscript
is read and items that should be edited will be listed in a formal
Editorial Evaluation Checklist. This lets the writer know whether or
not the manuscript is agent- or publisher-ready. There is a one-time
fee for this evaluation, based upon word count. See "pricing" for the
cost. Also see "pricing" for basic copyediting and comprehensive
copyediting. See a description of these copyediting processes below.
saw, I conquered" is parallel in verb and tense. "I came, I saw, I'm
hungry" is not. "First, secondly, third" is not parallel."
misunderstood and mangled grammatical elements by beginning writers
who commits a crime should have their head
examined" is not in agreement, because the subject (someone) is
singular, while the pronoun (their) is plural.
||I cannot think of a more humorous and fun editing exercise than finding misplaced modifiers, like the classic Saturday Nite Live
skit on "Bad Theatre" episode, where verbal description (while showing
it with characters read something like, "She walked into the bar,
carrying a silver flask wearing a red dress." In this case the
misplaced modifier (delayed modifier) says that the flask is wearing a
red dress. "We watched the parade on the porch..." etc.
order in which words (acting as subject/verb/object) appear in sentences
went home" is a clear placement of
subject/verb/object in that order. But writers often play with the
syntax to lend a different flavor to a sentence. Bad example, but a
writer could mix up the syntax of subject/verb/object to say "home is
where I went." Or the writer could use modifiers around the
subject, the verb, and the object. We check to make sure that a core
sentence is present, and if it's rich with modifiers, we check to make
sure it is syntactically understandable, clear, and logical.
marks: (single and double) American usage and British usage
... or . . .
British or Canadian, the appropriate spelling, unless the setting is in
the United States
nouns, acronyms, first words
in sentences, and instances where capitalization is misused.
speaking, while hyphenation is used in typeset documents to break words
at the ends of lines, the main emphasis here will be
on the use of hyphens to form compound adjectives and some
the overall structure and unfolding of a
book, whether fiction or non-fiction, will not be evident to us during
the ten-page evaluation, but we strongly request that you send your
entire manuscript to us for the evaluation, so that we can look deeper
into your overall work. The editorial relationship that we have with a
writer is dependent on the writer's willingness to work on his/her
manuscript just as intensely as we do, once the entire manuscript has
been edited. Simultaneously with grammar, punctuation, and other
line-editing, we will also focus on content and structure, and we hope
have a lively exchange with the writer, until the final version of the
manuscript is ready for an agent, publisher, or self-publishing venture.
In short, the comprehensive edit consists of the basic copyedit, plus these other elements...
1. Overview – After the entire work has been edited, the editor will
write a short overview of the overall assessment of the work, including
strong points and issues.
2. Main Objective – Has the writer clearly stated the objective/goal for the work and has it been met?
3. Structure – Structural elements of a manuscript (geared toward traditional structures for similar work) will be discussed.
4. Tone and Style – What is the overall tone of the writing? Is it
appropriate for the subject matter? What is the "style" of writing?
This can be anything from the way the author writes, whether wordy or
succinct, to clear vs. wordy and confusing—and the editor will point
out suggested revisions.
5. Grammar/Syntax – How are sentences constructed? These grammatical
elements of course are part of the "basic copyedit" performed on the
6. Supplemental Information – This includes items like the use of
graphics, tables, charts, as well as front and back matter, like tables
of contents, foreword, prolog; bibliographies, end notes, indexes, etc.
The editor will suggest supplemental information, as well as discuss
whether the supplemental information is useful and how it can be
1. Overview – After the entire work has been edited, the editor will write a
short overview of the overall assessment of the work, including strong
points and issues.
2. Characterization – Obviously stories are about characters, and so
character development, what they look like, how they feel and react,
what they say and how they say it is almost the creative center of
fiction—and our editors will pay close attention to characterization.
3. Plot Flow – We will summarize and comment on the contents and
movement of the plot in each chapter. Are there chapters that simply do
not advance the plot, and if they don't, do they have other important
roles, like supplying necessary background information? Is there a
subtle or overt plot arc? This is often called rising and falling
action. Are there subplots that come and go within the confines of the
overarching plot? Sometimes subplots can quickly get "out of hand" and
take over a story. In this case, writers will be advised to rethink
what story they wish to tell. Is there a discernible rising action
toward the end of the story...a climax? And does the story abruptly end
there, or is there a dénouement...a resolution to the various subplots
and the overall plot?
4. Opening of the novel – Does it immediately get the attention of the
reader, identify the major character right away, or the major
antagonist? Is the opening more subtle? Too subtle, so that it does not
get readers' attention or give readers a reason to turn the page?
4. Closing of the novel – Does the novel end with the same story it
begins with, or is the ending out of sync with the story that was told.
Believe it or not, this can be a problem: the author doesn't have an
end in mind, drops the action, closes with something almost secondary
or irrelevant to the story.
5. How is the formatting of the novel accomplished. Most novels at
least have chapters; some longer works have parts and chapters, while
shorter works might not even have chapters but use some other form of
distinction between major elements. The "nitty gritty" of structure, of
course is whether the paragraphs are indented or if there are blank
lines between paragraphs.
6. Tone, Style, Imagery, and Symbolism – These elements can
automatically elevate the novel to a "literary" work, but they can also
put the novel in danger of becoming inaccessible to the intended
audience. Was The Old Man and the Sea merely a story about a
fisherman trying to bring his catch back to Cuba? Or is the entire
novel symbolic of something else? Hemingway's "style" is
straight-forward and belies its ultimate symbolic undertone. Contrast
this with Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, which has been
said to be one of the most inaccessible books of modern times—and yet
there are those who bow to its imagery and symbolism, so as not to be
seen as illiterate. But perhaps Richard Locke of The New York Times Book Review
summarizes this work best: "Gravity's Rainbow is bonecrushingly dense,
compulsively elaborate, silly, obscene, funny, tragic, pastoral,
historical, philosophical, poetic, grindingly dull, inspired, horrific,
cold, bloated, beached [,] and blasted. . . ."
So, we look for the tone of the novel, which lends the atmosphere of
the work through description, word choice, characterization (think
Raskolnikov vs. the Unsinkable Molly Brown) and whether there is a
distinctive style of writing at play, or if it is uneven and needs to
be smoothed out (think a novel written by a committee, rather than a
single author's voice).
7. Grammar/Punctuation/Spelling/Word Choice...
8. Dialog – We will look for the use of the four elements of dialog and
suggest revisions. The four elements are what is said, how it is said,
who said it, and how characters react to it.
9. Point of View (or Narrative Voice) – While we will identify and talk
about character point of view in the course of the edit, here we focus
on the Narrative Point of View (or voice) in storytelling—the voice in
which the author chooses to tell the story and the tense in which the
narrator will relay the story.
The points of view can be one among these:
Omniscient third person
Omniscient-limited third person
But this is only half of what constitutes the Narrative Voice. The
element in which a story is told can either be past tense or present
tense—and there is a great dichotomy of writers on one side or the
other. Two Brothers Press respects and is familiar with both kinds of
tenses in storytelling. But there can be problems, and for a more
detailed discussion see Narrative Voice in Storytelling.
Our comprehensive editing is even more detailed than this short list
might indicate, but it gives you a good idea what we look for.