How Musical Line Editing makes it sing

Even though you’ve heard the term “Musical Line Editing” (MLE), we wanted to remind you about the proprietary, lift-every-author’s-voice-and-make-it-sing editing technique from Claudia Suzanne’s Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP).

“Musical line editing uses an array of techniques to tighten, strengthen, and dynamize our clients’ second drafts,” says Claudia. “It’s kind of a real ghostwriter’s superpower.”

Finding true musicality

All line editors check punctuation, eliminate ineffective non-sentences, and ensure the copy flows. Simply cleaning up a book’s copy is okay—but it doesn’t make it sing.

Every manuscript should go through three drafts: the author’s first draft, the edited second draft for readers, and the third draft that conforms to industry formatting standards. Musical line editing uplifts a manuscript’s second draft by getting rid of stuff that makes the author’s voice pedantic, repetitive, or passive by increasing the weight, rhythm, speed, and energy of each and every line.

Check out this example of MLE’s transformative powers:

Pedantic voice: “Serious consequences have happened by not paying attention to the climate change indicators.”

MLE singing voice: “Not addressing climate change indicators creates serious consequences.”

By deleting “to be” verb forms, the edit changes passive voice to active voice—a key skill for MLE professionals and Certified Ghostwriters.

Though you may have to reword any piece a bit, you cannot—and must not— change your author’s message or voice. That is a skilled ghostwriter’s mission and focus.

Editing makes things active, but…

Claudia’s example below illustrates how editing for action can inadvertently shift an author’s intended focus:

Passive 1: “Molly was singing as she was hanging up the laundry.”

Passive 2: “I heard Molly singing as she was hanging up the laundry.”

MLE Active: “Molly sang as she hung up the laundry.”

Yes, #2 is more active, but suddenly we have a POV (point-of-view) shift where Molly is no longer the key character. Instead, “I” has become the narrator of the scene, thereby becoming the main character, and changing author intent.

Learning when to embrace passive voice

Even though it’s stated in passive voice, this famous line from Star Trek’s creator—the late, great Gene Roddenberry—exemplifies that to every rule there is an exception: “To boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Imagine if the show’s intro was: “The Federation must explore!”  Though it’s definitely active, it’s not nearly as evocative. Sometimes—but rarely— passive voice is the perfect one.

That’s just the beginning

Obviously, this post has been just a quick reminder about the musical line editing you learned toward the end of Wambtac’s Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP). Now that you are a Certified Ghostwriter working on client manuscripts, you know that the key is to use the many formatting, organizing, book industry, and ghostwriting skills for a client’s first-draft manuscript then implement musical line editing to raise the quality of their second draft.

Thanks to being certified by a truly amazing ghostwriting guru, your MLE edits will guarantee the reader never has cause to stop reading, never needs to pull back and reread, never puts the book down because a line made their eyes cross.

Strip away feelings of remote isolation by chatting with fellow Certified Ghostwriters on the site. And remember: You can help us grow by telling others about a new option for taking Wambtac’s “Intro to Ghostwriting” course. Instead of waiting until January 2022 to begin this prerequisite to the full Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program, take the Intro class asynchronously via LearnDesk.