Line Editing

A high level polishing edit to bring out the best in narrative voice.


Line editing tends to be misunderstood and under appreciated, but a careful line edit can be the difference between a good manuscript and a great manuscript because its focus is on bringing out the best in the author’s voice and making the writing shine.

It falls between developmental editing (which is about the story) and copy editing (which is about correctness), so it’s often confused with both, but in truth line editing is its own entity. Line editing represents the highest level of the editor’s craft; any suggested additions are made in the author’s voice, not the editor’s.


A line edit will, among many other things:

  • Sharpen description
  • Control proportion and pacing
  • Eliminate clichés
  • Improve strained literary effect
  • Give dialogue more snap and bite
  • Eliminate repetition
  • Tighten narrative flow
  • Improve awkward wording

While the primary objective is hands-on polishing, line editing can also include notes in margins to explain changes, illustrate points of craft, or pass along ideas to push a scene further or make an approach to something work better. So not only does a line edit improve the manuscript being worked on, it also serves as a teaching tool that helps take your writing and self-editing to the next level, making it a worthwhile investment for any writer.


Varies considerably based on the scope and depth of the editing and coaching notes required, but typical line editing charges fall between $.02 and $.06 per word.

Varies based on length of material to be edited, but usually no more than 8 weeks for a complete manuscript.

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