The below is an example of a brief an author may have given me, detailing what they want from the copy editing service – what their preferences are for their story before the work commences. The brief may be longer or shorter and sometimes I call the brief ‘special requirements’ on my website. In a contract I may require the author to list their ‘final requirements’, so that the essentials and the direction of the work stays the same throughout, and this makes it easier for us both to know what is expected and to make sure we’re happy with the process.
- Originally the author requested proofreading but after the sample assessment they have agreed with the editor’s suggestion, on this occasion, a copy edit is necessary to improve some of the sentences.
- Author has chosen to keep first person present tense throughout because they think it works better for the story, with events being fresh and immediate from main character Joshua Adam’s perspective.
- Author wants the story to come across as a science fiction thriller, and any suggestions or ideas from the editor on how to make this clear to the reader are welcome.
- Author wants the first scene to be longer and wants suggestions on how to extend it.
- Though the author recognises there are comma splices, they want any extra words added to not interfere with the style and pace of the chapter.
- The author welcomes formatting of indents.
Screenshots of examples
Some of the things I changed
√ First person present tense was implemented on the second half of the chapter. I balanced first person past tense with first person present, where necessary, in keeping with the narrator-protagonist’s thoughts by ensuring I didn’t change the meaning by editing sentences that cannot be accurately translated from one tense to another: see comment A5.
√ I removed comma splices, and inserted conjunctions where appropriate to connect sentences together, without changing the style and pace of the chapter. E.g. see ‘Adams raised his arms, a satisfied smirk emerging at the bottom of his face’.
√ I removed first-line indents for the first paragraph of each scene because it was not standard formatting.
√ I increased the size of indents because they were too small and almost unnoticeable as they were, at 0.13”.
√ I removed instances of repetition, such as ‘the bag’ and ‘red leather’: ‘A few more of my hooks smashed into the side of the bag. Sweat droplets splattered across the red leather surface of the bag. I grunted, stepped forward and delivered another power hook with my left. The bag split, red leather tearing apart, its innards gushing out in capitulation.’
√ I substituted dialogue attributions such as ‘he replied smugly’ and ‘commented in a sly tone’ for ‘says’.
√ I cut out unnecessary words such as ‘I thought idly’.
Attempt has been made to balance first person past tense with first person present, where necessary, in keeping with the narrator-protagonist’s thoughts and ensuring I don’t change the meaning by editing sentences that cannot be accurately translated from one tense to another: see comment A5.
The need to keep the tense and person consistent has resulted in a lot of changes, and it’s been time consuming for the editor. These changes are messy to view and are not fit for examples, though the final version may be clean.
The story does read well in the final version, but it’s unlikely I can commit to making huge changes to tense and person in a copy editing and proofreading job, and I would refer the client to a developmental editor or to have a critique.