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:
- Inconsistencies in point of view
- Places where dialogue sounds unnatural
- Characters who may be underdeveloped or whose actions aren’t quite believable
- Plot inconsistencies
In other words, developmental editing is a general critique of what’s working and what isn’t.
The developmental edit takes place when the story is perhaps in its second draft and the author needs some professional input. It is not a line or structural edit, but an overall view of the writing.
Who is it for?
Developmental editing is for anyone looking for professional feedback on their writing. You might be preparing to enter a competition or submit your writing to a literary agent, or even considering self-publishing. Prior to submitting your manuscript you’ll need to make it the absolute best that it can be. As all writers these days know, it’s not enough to be a good writer – the work needs the polish of a professional edit to make it stand out in a competitive market. As a writer myself, I understand how difficult it can be to spot inconsistencies and weaknesses when you’re so close to the work, which is why having an independent, skilled pair of eyes on it is essential.
What does the editor do?
First, I quickly read through the entire story to get a feeling for the story’s pace, tone and whether it would engage a reader, highlighting anything which particularly stands out to me.
Then, I do a much slower read, where I praise what’s working and make respectful comments about what isn’t. This is the developmental edit and involves detailed notes on the manuscript itself, using the comments feature of MS Word. Where possible, I make specific suggestions as to how the work can be strengthened. I may also indicate any grammatical errors which come to my attention.
At the end I prepare a detailed critique, including notes on the story, 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. I may also highlight any style inconsistencies or structural problems which I observe.
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.
What will it cost?
As each project is unique, I offer a bespoke editorial service, quoting on each job based on a submitted sample of the work. As a general guide, my prices are approximately £35 / $40 USD per 5000 words (in the case of short stories under 5000 words, my fees are £22 / $25 USD per hour). I offer a discount to first time indie authors. 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?
In general, most developmental edits take approximately three weeks. The first week is given over to my initial read through and queries. The second week is to give me space to reflect on the story. During the final week, I go through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb highlighting areas which could do with improvement and making suggestions for ways in which the story could be strengthened, where possible. I then wrap everything up in a detailed critique.
However, if you’re on a tight schedule, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss your requirements and I’ll do my best to work out a timetable to suit us both.
Please note that I aim to respond to initial enquiries within two business days.
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.
- 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.