Ghoulish Grammar – The Line Edit Stage

You’ve polished up your plot lines, fixed all big-picture edits, and read your whole manuscript so many times you’re sick of it. What now?

Now comes the line edit stage!

What is line editing? As the name implies, you are poring through your manuscript line by line to make sure that there’s no awkward phrasing, spelling errors, or grammatical mistakes in your novel.

This tends to sound incredibly boring and tedious to most people, but for me, I relish it. Why? Because it gives the logical part of my brain something to work on.

Think about it. Writing a novel is an emotion and creativity-based venture. You’re stepping into another character’s head, while trying to make sure their dialogue is natural, the world-building is superb, characters have motives for everything they do…. etc. You get the point.

When you get to the line edit stage, you stop with all the dithering about ‘would my character really do that?’ and ‘does my story work as a whole?’ and focus in on the specific wording of each sentence.

Granted, I enjoy both, but this second part allows me to utilize a whole different skill-set.

However, yes, it can get tiring skimming through every sentence of a 40-70k book (assuming you write YA fiction, and if you write adult books, it’s even longer)!

What do I recommend? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Use apps! I personally have 3 websites I alternate between, all free.
    • The first is Grammarly, which is free and picks through your entire story for grammatical mistakes. It also analyzes story tone and other things like that, but for an added fee, so I just ignore that. One note is that I’ve found Grammarly likes correcting to the British spelling (i.e., colour instead of color), so watch out for that.
    • The second is Story Analyzer. This has the same function as Grammarly, but I’ve used it less, simply because of where I was in editing my novel when I discovered this resource. I believe this has Americanized spelling, so that’s a plus for it, but it doesn’t hurt to use both. (Here’s a link to the story analyzer).
    • The final, and most effective, is Hemingway App. It helps those writers that strive for efficient use of words in their writing. It highlights sentences that are worded weirdly, grammatical mistakes, AND tense changes. It is, by far, the most helpful of all the three on the list, for myself personally. 😉
  2. Break your story up into chunks, and do a little at a time. It’s overwhelming if you try to do everything at once, so don’t worry about that. Instead, pick small sections- and reward yourself for completing them.
  3. Enlist help! A fresh set of eyes can work wonders for a manuscript. While hiring someone is the best bet if you want to publish your book, a friend with a critical eye can also make magic happen.
  4. Work on writing a different story at the same time. This one is more controversial, because you should really be laser-beam focused on one thing at a time. However, if you’re working on a short story or a novella, it’ll give your creative juices a chance to thrive. Alternating between the two gives you a chance to use both sides of your writing brain!
  5. Bribe yourself, if needed. Say if you line-edit one chapter a day, when you complete the first half of your novel, you’ll go to the movies or buy something you really wanted.
  6. Lean on the writing community for support. Most of us have been there, and we’re more than willing to give you encouragement!

Good luck, you guys! Comment down below if you have tips of your own for the line edit stage.

~Rebecca M. 


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