Line Editing is a wonderful thing. Some call it copyediting, some call it just regular old editing.
I call it going line by line through your pages and catching a whole lot of stuff.
At this stage, you’ve had a beta read, some good feedback from author friends, and you’ve gone
over your draft enough times and really need to step away from those pages.
Here are some of the things I look for and fix with tracked changes on.
Hyphenation: The CMOS has an entire PDF on hyphenation rules. I’ll go through and correct hyphens such as making sure mid-morning is midmorning and goodbye is good-bye.
Punctuation: Commas, directional and smart vs. curly quotes, question marks placement, ellipses usage, em vs. en dashes, hyphens, digit vs. spelled numbers, percent usage, spaces and tabs, etc.
Quote marks: Magazines, titles, songs, books, newspapers. I’ll make sure your Movie Titles are italicized and “Song Titles” are in quotes.
Spelling and Grammar: We know that spellcheck doesn’t catch everything. I’ll find when hi should be his or the is supposed to be they. I’ll make sure your past tenses are in the past, subjects and verbs happily agree, and adverbs and adjectives are properly connected.
Consistency: Does Becky Sue have green eyes in chapter one but somehow has blue eyes in chapter four? Did your murderer use a jade knife but the detective found the ivory-handled blade in a later chapter? Did Becky Sue have her back to the door while waving good-bye but somehow reached forward to turn the knob? Was your main character born in Akron but later on tells everyone it’s Arkon?
Variety: Are the sentences in your paragraphs all the same length? Is there enough construction variety, or do you have all clause-comma-clause sentences?
Word usage: Do you have “wear” when it should be “where?” I’ll also look for the times when the same word each time is used too many times in the same paragraph all the time.