My personal aim as a developmental editor
To be the guide I’ve always wished for as a writer myself. Because, when it comes to story structure, there are so many different strategies to follow—whether it’s “three acts” or “a hero’s journey” or “seven steps.” It can get really confusing. There’s even a plot structure specific to romance. While performing a developmental edit, I do my best to avoid adding to the confusion by using plain English wherever possible and offering clear workable solutions.
How do you know whether you need a developmental edit?
If you’ve finished your novel, but something is still missing. It’s as if you meant to build a soaring cathedral and have only managed a small suburban house. The problem is that even the most beautifully written story in the world can be unreadable if the plot is confusing and the characters unmotivated. There are two major (and equally difficult) sides to novel writing. The first is prose—strong voice, clarity, using all five senses, etc., etc.—and the second is having a solid plot with goals and obstacles. That’s where a developmental edit comes in.
How does a developmental edit work?
It will help to identify those missing “somethings” and give you the tools to figure out how to fit the building blocks of story structure together to create the novel you actually have in mind. With a customized editorial report on your manuscript, I’ll address every beat of the romance story structure and generate profiles of your heroine(s) and/or hero(s) to help with character development.
What to expect from a developmental edit
A developmental edit is all big picture issues, so this means no line edits nor any corrections on grammar and punctuation. The in-manuscript comments and editorial report work together as a map suggesting rather large changes to the story structure. These can include adding new scenes, revising and/or deleting current scenes, and changing the order of scenes. It can also mean deleting, revising, or adding subplots. There can be recommendations for revising the heroine(s) and/or hero(s) character arcs, their internal and external goals, and potential deletions or revision of minor characters.
These are not changes I make myself—although, on occasion, I might add a few lines of dialogue or a descriptive paragraph as an example. You’ll find these either in the comments or within the text itself, which are identifiable through Track Changes. My job as the developmental editor is to locate problem areas and make recommendations, and your job as the author is to decide how best to use these recommendations. You may follow them exactly, ignore them, or (my favorite) use them as a springboard for your own ideas.