Developmental Editing

What is Developmental Editing?

A developmental edit is an in-depth and intensive edit of your entire manuscript. It is an examination of all the elements of your writing, from single words and the phrasing of individual sentences to overall structure and style. It can address plot holes, troublesome characterization, and all other existing material.

After a round of developmental editing — also called substantive or structural editing — a manuscript can change significantly. Much of what you have spent many weeks, months or even years writing can be cut, restructured and even heavily criticized. For inexperienced writers accepting this type of direct and honest feedback can be a difficult experience.

Good developmental editing will judge your work in relation to professional industry standards and expectations while also keeping in mind your target audience. Only once your manuscript has been cut, reshaped, revised, and developed will it be ready for a copy edit and proofread.


What To Consider When Choosing Your Developmental Editor...

An editor-author relationship is creative and relies on personality, honest feedback, and mutual respect. It is essential that you find an editor you can work with, who offers openness, honesty, and supportive critique. Not only should you look for an editor who is skilled and experienced in your genre, but you should also look for someone who matches your communication style, and who you know you won’t mind receiving positive (or negative) criticism from.

An editor’s honest critical feedback can only be successful if an author is open to revision and critiques. Developmental editing is subjective, and each editor works a little differently, but the bottom line is that no writer works alone: books are collaborative creations!


What Is The Difference Between Developmental Editing and Copy Editing?

There are a few crucial differences between developmental editing and copy editing. Copy editors are savants of language. They look at a manuscript from the perspective of grammar, punctuation, and diction (AKA, word choice). Developmental editing is obviously also concerned with these detailed aspects of writing but tends to consider all these elements under one umbrella. The copy editing that follows a developmental edit reviews the manuscript with a more single-minded approach, looking at grammar, inconsistencies and substituting weak words and phrases for more powerful alternatives.


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