Developmental editing

woman writing in a notebook

What is developmental editing?

Developmental editing tackles the overarching areas of plot, characterisation, point of view, style, tone and so on, looking at the big picture. You’ll sometimes hear it called structural editing or substantive editing. A developmental editor looks at the overall structure and content of your book. Both fiction and non-fiction books can benefit from developmental editing, but I specialise in fiction.

During a developmental edit, as well as the points mentioned above, I’ll also look at dialogue, world-building, themes and any other relevant issues across the book as a whole. I’ll provide an overarching report and make comments and suggestions in the manuscript itself.

Developmental editing doesn’t deal with spelling, punctuation and grammar (unless it’s appropriate to point out a recurring error or a tendency to overuse a certain construction as a comment on style). A developmental edit may result in major changes, such as rearranging sections or rewriting large areas. There is little point looking at the fine details if whole sections of text are going to be cut or rewritten! For this reason, developmental editing takes place before copyediting.

My service

Before I start work, we will agree on a price and scope for the project. We will discuss your needs and make sure you are choosing the most appropriate service – developmental editing, copyediting, proofreading or something else. We will also, of course, agree a deadline for me to get the edited document and report back to you.

You can decide how you want me to communicate with you as I work through the piece. If any major queries arise that might affect how my work progresses, I will get in touch with you straight away.

Once you receive the edited document and report, you will no doubt want to go ahead and do some further work on your manuscript in light of the comments and suggestions. You may not agree with all my suggested changes, of course, but at least some of them should give you food for thought!

As per my terms and conditions, the total price includes a further subsequent email exchange to pick up on any issues arising. You may want to ask questions, answer questions, clarify things or discuss differences of opinion. You can make this email as long as you like and I will answer in as much depth as possible. You may not feel ready to get back in touch until several months later, after assimilating the report and suggestions and working on the manuscript again. That is fine! I am happy to enter into further discussions – and, in fact, I welcome discussion and exchanges of opinion! – but after this email exchange, I will have to charge for editorial support at the same hourly rate as the original job.

Contact me for a free, no-obligation quote.

I do recommend that, if your budget will stretch to it, you have your work copyedited as well. This will pick up detailed technical errors and help your work read more smoothly.