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Developmental Editing: Headliner

Often as a creative writer you may not be able to see areas for development in your text, because you’re too close to it. You know your characters inside out, you understand perfectly what’s happened in the plot and how your characters feel about it. Your reader may not be able to see things as you do – they may not sense the same atmosphere of the physical surroundings or understand your character’s psychology. In different places they may feel that the plot is moving too slowly, or too quickly. A developmental editor can help you to see these kinds of issues and understand the possible solutions.

A good developmental editor will not dictate – they will be positive and constructive, guide you towards the technique that they think might help, and explain why they think so. And in the end, they will understand that your writing is your baby, that it’s very personal to you, and the decisions about it are yours.

For a developmental edit for fiction or narrative non-fiction, I will give you feedback on important considerations for your writing, with specific comments through the text.

Here are a few of the things I will consider:

  • Use of consistent viewpoint within each scene – some people deliberately choose to break this ‘rule’ but I will flag it for your consideration.

  • Strength of your first-page opening.

  • Use of language to create atmosphere or tension; flow of language; maintaining focus.

  • Using the right balance of ‘show’ and ‘tell’, and not over-explaining.

  • Changes in tense, or from first to third person (or vice versa).

  • Errors in plot, pace or timeline.

  • Characterisation – are the characters real, and can the reader understand and relate to them (even if they’re not likeable)? Do they speak in a believable and consistent way?

  • Is the character’s quest or conflict clear, and can the reader sense the journey towards its resolution?

  • Narrative distance – does the reader feel close to the character?

  • Purpose – who is the intended reader, and what would they expect for this genre? This includes looking at style, content and length.

If you would like a copyedit included with your developmental edit, I would also look at:

  • Errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar; overly long sentences; repetition; overuse of italics, bold or exclamation marks; the passive voice etc.

(You may decide not to include a copyedit if you anticipate big changes – it would be a waste of time to copyedit text that will change significantly).

I also offer a manuscript review, for which I will read your manuscript and give a report that comments on the above areas and makes suggestions for improvements. Be aware, though, that a manuscript review would not comment on any specific areas of text or pick up specific errors – for that you would need a developmental edit.

You can see my fees and terms here, or I’d be really happy to answer any questions that you have about how developmental editing can help your writing – you can get in touch with me here.

Developmental Editing: About
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