Developmental Editing

Developmental editing is also called structural editing. It usually begins when the manuscript is finished.

I analyze the manuscript, highlighting some of the strengths of your work and looking at “big picture” issues such as:

  • Characterization: Characters are the heart of a story. How is the development of these characters likely to work for readers? Are they rich, multifaceted characters who seem like real people?
  • Point of View: Compelling storytelling and strong characterization rely upon effective use of point of view. How well is your choice of first-person, third-person limited, or third-person omniscient point of view likely to work for your audience? If there are shifts in point of view, is it effective or is it likely to confuse or distract readers?
  • Dialogue: Excellent dialogue propels the plot, develops rich, believable characters, and brings the story to life. Is this working as well as you want it to?
  • Plotting, Conflict, Structure, and Pacing: Looking at the overall structure of the book, how do the pieces of the story fit together? How effectively do the crucial elements, including characterization, conflict, and plot, work together? How is the pacing likely to work for the reader?
  • Setting & Worldbuilding: This is particularly important in historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy, but it’s a crucial element of all fiction. Is your setting conveyed vividly? Does your world seem real and believable?
  • Clarity: As writers, we’re often too close to our own work to see it through a reader’s eyes. How clear is it to readers? Is anything likely to be confusing or convey something other than your intended meaning? Is your writing working the way you want it to?
  • Voice and Style: As a writer, you have a distinctive style, and your work of fiction has a unique voice. How can we polish your work so your style and voice truly shine? This often involves strengthening word choice and fine tuning sentence structure so the writing is as professional and polished as possible and your style resonates with readers.
  • Themes: Themes give fiction much of its richness and meaning. How are your themes explored in the story?

With a developmental edit, you’ll receive:

  1. an editorial letter, exploring the book’s strengths, highlighting problems, and exploring ways to make it stronger.
  2. comments throughout the text which highlight recommendations in the letter.
  3. a story map, outlining the novel and analyzing the story in terms of issues like story beats, character arcs, conflict, and plot.
  4. some line editing to add clarity and polish sentence structure, word choice, grammar, and spelling.*

In some cases, I also collaborate with the author to brainstorm solutions to problems with the manuscript.

Please keep in mind that the story elements explored in the editorial letter, story map, and comments are selected based on the needs of each particular author and project. So your letter and outline may not cover all the topics mentioned above.

Please see also Manuscript Evaluation.

*Final copyediting or proofreading will still be needed after the developmental edit is finished.

For more information, see Rates & Policies.