The Hills are Alive…With a Book’s Music

How Musical Line Editing makes it sing

If you’ve never heard the term “Musical Line Editing” (MLE), you are missing out on the proprietary, lift-every-author’s-voice-and-make-it-sing editing technique of 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.

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…

This example from Claudia 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

This post is a mere introduction to the musical line editing you learn toward the end of Wambtac’s Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP). All essential ghostwriting skills are taught in the same order you will eventually use them: first-draft skills then second-draft ones.

When you are a Certified Ghostwriter working on client manuscripts, you will first use the many formatting, organizing, book industry, and ghostwriting skills for their first-draft manuscript before implementing musical line editing to raise the quality of their second draft. 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.

If you really want to generate not just a basic percussion beat but enhance it with a rock ‘n roll rhythm, start exploring basics with the new asynchronous version to be ready for the full 13-month Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP) course with The Ghostwriting Expert, Claudia Suzanne, in August 2022.