Improving Text Word by Word, Sentence by Sentence
Compared to book development, line editing is practically a party. It is a craft that takes 1000s of hours to develop, much like mastery in the kitchen, I’d posit. But once you’re good at it, you can never read anything in the same way. You will always look at text and see ways it could be improved. Ideas for improvements come quickly, almost effortlessly, in a flow state.
Line editing is close attention to details. It catches grammar mistakes, typos, sentences that don’t quite mean what the author intends them to mean, plus repetition, continuity errors, and much more. Are you over-using a word? Do you rely on too many clichés? Line editing has an eye toward all these things.
My style of line editing is fairly interventionist; only in rare instances will I only leave a comment that a sentence needs attention. Instead I provide what I think is the best solution—exactly what part to cut, and exactly the phrasing and punctuation to put in its place.
Inevitably, our style of line editing winds up catching factual errors from time to time as well. We are not professional fact-checkers, but we have a finely calibrated b.s. detector (even if unintentional b.s.), and a lawyerly habit of wanting to see the best evidence presented in the best manner, which leads us to Google searches for verifications of a text’s claims, etc. etc.
All that to say, line editing—or line-editing, as is also correct—is important.
Could you use Grammarly instead? Yes! But you won’t get the added benefits of real human literacy, knowledge of history, current events, and trends in pop and politics that a good line editor brings to the task, enriching both the text and the edited’s experience.