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I am a big-picture kinda guy. I have ideas and I love details, but I hate to get stuck up in the microscopic level grunt work - managing accents, tones and environment details that are not so central to the plot becomes excessive. Now I would do that if given three full months and a good technical degree in English; it so happens I'm never gonna get that.

Will a copyeditor do it for me - maybe translating my draft, doing the accents right, putting in better, powerful words and correcting plot details?

Is a copyeditor a relatively fool-proof solution?

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    I agree this is often not integrated into one job. You can find editors out there who offer all these services, but at that point, you almost want a co-author. Writing IS slow and painful, and I wrote, then edited for a LONG time, then had beta readers look at it and give their input, then rewrote, THEN had an editor go through, who also gave some "does this make sense" advice. Even the editor will make suggestions and give them back to you to decide what you like or what changes the meaning. Sorry, there's no way to get past the nitty gritty of fine details. – DWKraus Sep 5 at 16:43
  • Are you writing in a foreign language for an English-speaking market? It's not entirely clear from the question. – DWKraus Sep 5 at 16:44
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    How could anyone else be "doing the accents right, putting in better, powerful words and correcting plot details"? Imagine the very same tale, like the Odissey, changed with different accents, wording and plot details. How would you say which is 'right'? – Duncan Drake Sep 8 at 8:15
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Generally, no.

The traditional editing process has three layers. In order, there's the substantive edit, the line edit, and the proofread. All three require a different set of skills.

The substantive edit (this process goes by a number of different names) aims to address 'big-picture' elements such as plot holes, character arcs, pacing, etcetera. When the substantive editor is done, your manuscript will be returned with a whole lot of red lines suggesting you cut out the car ride to work and the protagonist's extensive ten-page morning ritual. Annotations written in comment bubbles will point out where your characters come off as unfeeling wooden blocks or as reptiles in human skinsuits.

The line editor is, as the name suggests, concerned about your story at the sentence level. Expect a returned manuscript in which all clichés like the phrase "like a knife through butter" are highlighted, as well as suggestions on where to break up run-on sentences and where to improve sections written in passive voice.

Finally there's the proofreader, who has your manuscript open on one side and Strunk and White on the other. The proofreader catches grammatical errors, like sentences in which you forgot to modify the verb for the subjunctive mood, and similar subjects such as punctuation. Of the three, this is the most 'objective' form of editing.

You might find an editor who will do all three. But not as a 'package deal,' for the simple reason it makes little sense to correct a misspelling on page three if it's uncertain whether the encapsulating scene will make it through to the next draft.

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