I love copyediting. There isn’t anything that gets me more pumped than making a text crisper, sharper and more fun to read. I especially enjoy substantial copyediting. I can look at a piece of writing, and “naturally” copyedit, that is, always looking to improve it through making suggestions and re-writing. In a sense, being a substantive copyeditor is organic for me. Even when I’m reading a published book, and something seems questionable, I take the time to research, and see if there was another way of approaching the writing. You know, just for fun!
Heavy copyediting not only requires someone who can do what a baseline copyeditor does: proofread and look for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation; ensure consistency and proper word usage; verify cross- references; check for correct sequencing in lists. But also, what a medium copyeditor does: maintain parallel structure; note inappropriate figures of speech; enforce style and tone; change passive voice to active voice; and make note of incorrect statements.
Add all of the aforementioned tasks to: improving flow, pace, structure, and actually add to the overall quality of the writing, and you have some of the criteria required to be a substantive or heavy copyeditor.
I naturally am able to combine all three of these types of copyediting because I have a sharp and patient eye for proofreading, and love to research and double check items, as well as offer real suggestions for improvement. So tasks like checking cross-references and parallel structure are a snap for me.
I copy edit my own work all the time, which includes removing excess words; moving and rearranging sentences and paragraphs so there is logic and rhythm; substituting passive verbs for active ones, which help move the action and plot forward; and making sure my characters maintain their established traits as they progress through the storyline.
Having experience, as a professional writer is helpful in being an effective, substantive copyeditor, and at Rosedove, we all do. We understand where writers are coming from emotionally and psychologically. We “speak the same language” and really get it, so making suggestions is something we offer with both diplomacy and clarity.
Personally, I have a keen sense of timing, like a comedian, so I look and listen for flow, consistency and style. I am a trained actor and dancer, so I learned about rhythm and flow at a very young age, which I have now transferred into my writing and editing.
When people ask me what I do for a living, I often say I’m a “re-writer,” because in a sense, after the first draft is done, I spend more time re-writing and editing than actually writing. And I really enjoy it! I believe having a positive attitude when re-working any piece to improve it makes the piece come out that much better.