How Developmental Editing Helps Writers Produce Successful Novels

What Is Developmental Editing?

Developmental editing is a type of editing that focuses on the big picture elements of a manuscript, such as its structure, pacing, character development, plot, tone, mood, and theme. The aim of developmental editing is to help writers improve the overall quality of their story and to ensure that it is coherent, engaging, and satisfying to the reader. We also call this type of editing structural editing, substantive editing, manuscript editing, and content editing.

What Does a Developmental Editor Do?

A developmental editor identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript and suggests ways to address them. This may involve restructuring the plot, adjusting the pacing, developing characters more fully, refining the writing style, and clarifying the theme.

Developmental editing can be especially helpful for writers who are struggling with a first draft or who are unsure how to improve their work. By providing feedback on the manuscript as a whole, a developmental editor can help writers identify areas that need improvement and suggest strategies for important revisions.

Image of a laptop, notepad, and tea for developmental editing

The Benefits of Developmental Editing

Some benefits of developmental editing for writers include the following:

  1. Improved Story Structure: Improving the structure of a novel, making it more coherent and easier to follow. This can help keep readers engaged and invested in the story.
  2. Tighter or More Refined Plot: Identifying and eliminating plot holes, inconsistencies, and other weaknesses in a novel. This can make the story more compelling and satisfying for readers.
  3. Stronger Characterization: Developing and refining the characters in a novel, making them more realistic, relatable, and memorable. This can help readers connect with and care about the characters and their journey.
  4. Improved Dialogue: Making dialogue more authentic, natural, and effective. This leads to more engaging characters and a more compelling story.
  5. Enhanced Mood, Tone, and Theme: Clarifying and enhancing the emotional and thematic elements of a novel. This makes it more meaningful, and it gives the story a deeper resonance.
  6. Professional Quality: Ensuring the novel is of professional quality, making it more appealing to agents, publishers, and readers.
  7. Greater Marketability: Making the novel more marketable, improving its overall quality, readability, and appeal. This can increase the chances of the novel being picked up by an agent or publisher. It can also help in finding a readership through self-publishing.

Also note that developmental editing is the first step of the editorial process and must be completed before a copy edit, since much of the manuscript will change with revisions.

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