What is developmental editing?
Developmental editing–also called story-craft editing–evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of how a story is crafted. Developmental editing takes into consideration the author’s unique voice and writing style and works within it. The editor does not rewrite the work, but makes specific suggestions as to how the author can strengthen all aspects of the story to reflect what they’re trying to say in the most compelling way.
Examples of what is covered by developmental editing:
- Plot inconsistencies
- Characters who may be underdeveloped or whose actions aren’t quite believable
- Structural weaknesses
- Inconsistent point of view
In other words, developmental editing is a general critique of what’s working and what isn’t. It is not copyediting or proofreading, but an overall view of the writing.
The developmental edit takes place when the author has reached the point where they can no longer do anything more with the story on their own. This is usually when the story is in its second or third draft.
Who is it for?
Developmental editing is for anyone looking for professional feedback on their writing.
I specialise in working with self-publishing writers of literary and historical fiction but also enjoy coming-of-age stories and stories about everyday people from different eras. I especially love a good mystery, particularly if it has a psychological bent—I’ve been an avid mystery reader for as long as I can remember. However, as an editor, I’m happy working in many genres, so if you’re not sure if your work will be a good fit then don’t hesitate to contact me and we can discuss it.
What does the editor do?
First, I quickly read through the entire story to get a feeling for the pace, tone and whether or not it would engage a reader, highlighting anything which particularly stands out to me.
Then I spend time reflecting on my reading experience. This includes making notes on the characters, plot, story structure, etc to help me work out which areas need the most attention when it comes to my second read.
During my second read I praise what’s working and show you how you might strengthen any weak areas in the story. This is the developmental edit and involves making detailed notes on the manuscript itself, using “Track Changes” and the comments feature of MS Word.
At the end I prepare a six to eight page critique in the form of a revision letter, tying my comments together and including notes on the story, structure, premise, character development, setting, use of dialogue and narrative voice. I summarise what’s working and not working and give concrete examples as to how any problems might be remedied. This is the revision letter and will focus on the main areas which, if strengthened, would serve to bring your manuscript to the next level. In some cases, it may be beneficial to undergo more than one round of developmental editing.
What does the author do?
After you receive the editing notes, it is up to you to decide whether or not to make any or all of the suggested changes. If you do, you then go back and rework those sections of the manuscript.
A full developmental edit includes one hour of coaching, either by email or phone.
What will it cost?
As each project is unique, I offer a bespoke editorial service, quoting on each job based on an assessment of the manuscript. This gives me a realistic idea as to what the book may require in terms of my time and editorial input.
The initial consultation—where we discuss your project’s requirements and whether or not I can meet your preferred time frame—is free and with no obligation.
How long will it take?
That depends on what is required and will be discussed at consultation stage.
How does an author choose the right editor?
Each editor brings different strengths and experience to the developmental edit. As a published author, I understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of feedback. I put myself in your shoes and always work within your style, spending time getting to know the qualities of your writing, and discovering how best to strengthen your work in a way that allows your unique voice to shine through.
In addition to being published, I have the following experience and qualifications which give me a unique insight into the story-crafting process:
- I hold an MLitt in Creative Writing from The University of Glasgow with a module in Editing and Publication.
- I have taken courses in developmental editing through the Editorial Freelancers Association.
- I am a full member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.
- I’ve been on the judging panel for a writing competition.
- I’ve written book reviews for the regional Scottish magazine, Lothian Life and I write a book blog (https://kendraolson.wordpress.com).
How can I book the service?
You can contact me by email in the first instance: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that this service is subject to availability.