Evaluations and Editing by Two Brothers Press
Resources used for editing:

Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition

The Associated Press Stylebook

The Copyeditor's Handbook

Links to online editing resources

Online Guide to
Grammar and Writing

Grammar Slammer!

Owl: Online Writing Lab

Guide to Grammar and
by Jack Lynch

English Guide for those
for whom English is a second language
Two Brothers Press performs two types of editorial evaluations:
  1. The first evaluation is a sample edit and evaluation of the first ten or more pages of a manuscript, free of charge, and will consist of intense editing of the items listed below.
  2. The second editorial evaluation is more formal. Writers who want to know if their manuscripts are already in good shape to submit to agents or publishers will want this type of evaluation. It does not consist of any sample editing. The entire manuscript is read and items that should be edited will be listed in a formal Editorial Evaluation Checklist. This lets the writer know whether or not the manuscript is agent- or publisher-ready. There is a one-time fee for this evaluation, based upon word count. See "pricing" for the cost. Also see "pricing" for basic copyediting and comprehensive copyediting. See a description of these copyediting processes below.

Line edit:
Grammar Sentence fragments and run-on sentences

Parallelism  "I came, I saw, I conquered" is parallel in verb and tense. "I came, I saw, I'm hungry" is not. "First, secondly, third" is not parallel."

Subject-verb agreement

Verb tense one of the most misunderstood and mangled grammatical elements by beginning writers

Pronoun agreement "Someone who commits a crime should have their head examined" is not in agreement, because the subject (someone) is singular, while the pronoun (their) is plural.

Misplaced modifiers I cannot think of a more humorous and fun editing exercise than finding misplaced modifiers, like the classic Saturday Nite Live skit on "Bad Theatre" episode, where verbal description (while showing it with characters read something like, "She walked into the bar, carrying a silver flask wearing a red dress." In this case the misplaced modifier (delayed modifier) says that the flask is wearing a red dress. "We watched the parade on the porch..." etc.

Syntax The order in which words (acting as subject/verb/object) appear in sentences "I went home" is a clear placement of subject/verb/object in that order. But writers often play with the syntax to lend a different flavor to a sentence. Bad example, but a writer could mix up the syntax of subject/verb/object to say "home is where I went."  Or the writer could use modifiers around the subject, the verb, and the object. We check to make sure that a core sentence is present, and if it's rich with modifiers, we check to make sure it is syntactically understandable, clear, and logical.

Punctuation Periods
Question marks
Exclamation points
Quotation marks:

Quotation marks: (single and double) American usage and British usage
... or . . .

Spelling Based on standard American English or if the writer is British or Canadian, the appropriate spelling, unless the setting is in the United States

Proper nouns, acronyms, first words in sentences, and instances where capitalization is misused.

Generally speaking, while hyphenation is used in typeset documents to break words at the ends of lines, the main emphasis here will be on the use of hyphens to form compound adjectives and some compound nouns.

Word usage Commonly misused words (their/they’re/there, affect/effect, to/too/two)

Incorrect word choice

Clear and consistent
 use of

Obviously, the overall structure and unfolding of a book, whether fiction or non-fiction, will not be evident to us during the ten-page evaluation, but we strongly request that you send your entire manuscript to us for the evaluation, so that we can look deeper into your overall work. The editorial relationship that we have with a writer is dependent on the writer's willingness to work on his/her manuscript just as intensely as we do, once the entire manuscript has been edited. Simultaneously with grammar, punctuation, and other line-editing, we will also focus on content and structure, and we hope to have a lively exchange with the writer, until the final version of the manuscript is ready for an agent, publisher, or self-publishing venture.

Comprehensive Editing:
In short, the comprehensive edit consists of the basic copyedit, plus these other elements...
Comprehensive Copyedit—Non-Fiction
1. Overview – After the entire work has been edited, the editor will write a short overview of the overall assessment of the work, including strong points and issues.

2. Main Objective – Has the writer clearly stated the objective/goal for the work and has it been met?

3. Structure – Structural elements of a manuscript (geared toward traditional structures for similar work) will be discussed.

4. Tone and Style – What is the overall tone of the writing? Is it appropriate for the subject matter? What is the "style" of writing? This can be anything from the way the author writes, whether wordy or succinct, to clear vs. wordy and confusing—and the editor will point out suggested revisions.

5. Grammar/Syntax – How are sentences constructed? These grammatical elements of course are part of the "basic copyedit" performed on the writing.

6. Supplemental Information – This includes items like the use of graphics, tables, charts, as well as front and back matter, like tables of contents, foreword, prolog; bibliographies, end notes, indexes, etc. The editor will suggest supplemental information, as well as discuss whether the supplemental information is useful and how it can be improved.

Comprehensive Copyedit—Fiction
1. Overview – After the entire work has been edited, the editor will write a short overview of the overall assessment of the work, including strong points and issues.

2. Characterization – Obviously stories are about characters, and so character development, what they look like, how they feel and react, what they say and how they say it is almost the creative center of fiction—and our editors will pay close attention to characterization.

3. Plot Flow – We will summarize and comment on the contents and movement of the plot in each chapter. Are there chapters that simply do not advance the plot, and if they don't, do they have other important roles, like supplying necessary background information? Is there a subtle or overt plot arc? This is often called rising and falling action. Are there subplots that come and go within the confines of the overarching plot? Sometimes subplots can quickly get "out of hand" and take over a story. In this case, writers will be advised to rethink what story they wish to tell. Is there a discernible rising action toward the end of the story...a climax? And does the story abruptly end there, or is there a dénouement...a resolution to the various subplots and the overall plot?

4. Opening of the novel – Does it immediately get the attention of the reader, identify the major character right away, or the major antagonist? Is the opening more subtle? Too subtle, so that it does not get readers' attention or give readers a reason to turn the page?

4. Closing of the novel – Does the novel end with the same story it begins with, or is the ending out of sync with the story that was told. Believe it or not, this can be a problem: the author doesn't have an end in mind, drops the action, closes with something almost secondary or irrelevant to the story.

5. How is the formatting of the novel accomplished. Most novels at least have chapters; some longer works have parts and chapters, while shorter works might not even have chapters but use some other form of distinction between major elements. The "nitty gritty" of structure, of course is whether the paragraphs are indented or if there are blank lines between paragraphs.

6. Tone, Style, Imagery, and Symbolism – These elements can automatically elevate the novel to a "literary" work, but they can also put the novel in danger of becoming inaccessible to the intended audience. Was The Old Man and the Sea merely a story about a fisherman trying to bring his catch back to Cuba? Or is the entire novel symbolic of something else? Hemingway's "style" is straight-forward and belies its ultimate symbolic undertone. Contrast this with Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, which has been said to be one of the most inaccessible books of modern times—and yet there are those who bow to its imagery and symbolism, so as not to be seen as illiterate. But perhaps Richard Locke of The New York Times Book Review summarizes this work best: "Gravity's Rainbow is bonecrushingly dense, compulsively elaborate, silly, obscene, funny, tragic, pastoral, historical, philosophical, poetic, grindingly dull, inspired, horrific, cold, bloated, beached [,] and blasted. . . ."

So, we look for the tone of the novel, which lends the atmosphere of the work through description, word choice, characterization (think Raskolnikov vs. the Unsinkable Molly Brown) and whether there is a distinctive style of writing at play, or if it is uneven and needs to be smoothed out (think a novel written by a committee, rather than a single author's voice).

7. Grammar/Punctuation/Spelling/Word Choice...

8. Dialog – We will look for the use of the four elements of dialog and suggest revisions. The four elements are what is said, how it is said, who said it, and how characters react to it.

9. Point of View (or Narrative Voice) – While we will identify and talk about character point of view in the course of the edit, here we focus on the Narrative Point of View (or voice) in storytelling—the voice in which the author chooses to tell the story and the tense in which the narrator will relay the story.

The points of view can be one among these:

Omniscient third person
Omniscient-limited third person
First person

But this is only half of what constitutes the Narrative Voice. The element in which a story is told can either be past tense or present tense—and there is a great dichotomy of writers on one side or the other. Two Brothers Press respects and is familiar with both kinds of tenses in storytelling. But there can be problems, and for a more detailed discussion see Narrative Voice in Storytelling.

Our comprehensive editing is even more detailed than this short list might indicate, but it gives you a good idea what we look for.


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