Developmental Editing

Developmental Edit

What Is Developmental Editing?

I’m glad you asked.

A developmental edit (DE) is one of the “deepest” forms of editing. It’s the foundation of the manuscript. We can’t fix comma errors until we’ve got the message down in the best way possible. I personally start the DE after the manuscript is complete—not when you’re pulling an outline together. This edit involves lots of comments, highlights, suggestions, questions, groans, and, hopefully, a fist punching through the air.

Mining Your Message

When you mine for gold, you have to dig deep. As an editor, my job is more than just making sure the grammar’s great. If your message is buried under tons of rock (i.e., dull descriptions, nonsensical plots, confusing prose), the reader won’t see the value. I want them to care as much about your book as you do. Developmental editing directly addresses that. It’s about making sure the story and ideas you’re trying to share will connect properly with the audience.

My Process

First is the sample edit. For a DE, the sample looks at your first 15 pages and addresses structure, voice, flow, character, plot, and other big-picture elements. The sample is accompanied by a short editorial letter outlining strengths and suggested improvements.

Why the sample edit?

Simple. You need to see what my editing is like before you hand me your book (and your money). And I need to see if I’m the editor for you and if so, what editing your writing needs, how long that would take, and how much it would cost.

Next Step: The Edit

I read through the entire manuscript twice, jotting down comments on a macro-level. For fiction work, that means addressing plot, character, setting, dialogue, themes, large consistency issues, and more.

For non-fiction, it shifts to overall content, message, clarity, organization, and any fiction elements that may apply.

This is not a sentence-level edit. Oh, no, folks. This is the big stuff. And after I do my run-through with in-document comments, I give a 5–10 page feedback (depending on the manuscript), outlining major points, suggestions on how to improve, and my overall thoughts.

Who Is This DE for? Who Needs It?

Glad you asked.

Publishers need it in order to sell impactful and engaging books. Ever picked up a paperback and the first chapter was all about scenery? That doesn’t happen here (unless the book is, in fact, about the Appalachian Mountains in autumn).

And writers?

The DE is for (A) writers who have no idea where they’re going with their story, (B) writers who have a draft but feel it needs work, and (C) writers who think their story is AWESOME but realize an expert eye is invaluable in order to get published.

But How Do I Know We’re a Good Fit?

That’s where the sample edit comes in! I do a sample so you see my style and I see your work. I never take on a client before making sure they’re comfortable with my edits and I’m passionate about their project.

So what are you waiting for?