Substantive edit needed early in writing process

A type of editing you can have done early in the writing process is substantive editing.

This generally includes:
• Correcting spelling, capitalization, punctuation and obvious grammar errors
• Improving readability of text
• Identifying clarity and organizational issues
• Identifying accuracy issues
• Identifying consistency issues
• Recommending sections to add, reduce or delete

A substantive edit generally is needed after the writer has taken the manuscript through at least one draft. That is, the manuscript is “completed” with no missing parts. A substantive editor may find that additional parts need to be written, but before the edit begins, at least in the writer’s mind, the manuscript is “complete.”

Editors vary on their approach to substantive editing. Many will rewrite whole sections, and generally the more expensive the editor, the more likely that will occur. Other editors (including myself) believe in the integrity of the manuscript and tend to merely recommend that parts be rewritten, added or subtracted. Such editors take on more of a mentoring role as the writer makes such changes.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.