Developmental Editing for Fiction

Developmental editing for fiction focuses on the big picture and strives to pinpoint narrative pitfalls while preserving the author’s voice and vision. For this type of edit, I examine elements such as

  • characterization
  • plot
  • setting
  • dialogue
  • theme
  • pacing
  • conflict
  • tension
  • voice
  • point of view

A developmental edit takes place after you have completed your manuscript but are still working through revisions. A developmental edit may involve the author rewriting or deleting sections or even writing new material, which is why a “big picture” edit precedes any copyediting.

What do I receive from a developmental edit of my fiction manuscript?
          • A detailed editorial letter outlining the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript along with suggestions on how to improve the weak areas
          • Detailed comments throughout your manuscript illustrating the points discussed in the editorial letter and any other items that need attention
          • A list of characters and a timeline or chapter-by-chapter synopsis
          • free follow-up consultation by email or phone

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Copyediting repairs errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, usage, syntax, and grammar. Going beyond proofreading, which involves identifying only typos, copyediting ensures correctness, consistency, clarity, and coherency by implementing a consistent formatting style, such as Chicago or AP, to enhance readability.

Depending on the condition of your manuscript, I may do some of or all the following:

Eliminate obvious errors of:

        • grammar (e.g., dangling modifiers—Dozing in the sun, the seagull devoured my lunch.)
        • syntax (e.g., lack of parallelism—Astronauts enjoy performing experiments, conducting spacewalks, and to drink coffee in microgravity.)
        • usage (e.g., erroneous word choice—For all intensive purposes, the musicians should’ve stayed home during the averse weather. But the orchestra conductor was loathe to wave the rehearsal because of her deep-seeded fear of criticism.

Identify convoluted writing and other readerly obstacles, such as

        • wordiness
        • repetition
        • clichés
        • mixed metaphors
        • misuse of dialogue or passive voice
        • overuse of a favorite phrase or device
        • awkward punctuation or phrasing
What do I receive from a copyedit?
        • One or two thorough reads of your manuscript
        • style sheet listing choices for grammar, spelling (including character and place names), punctuation, and capitalization
        • Edits marked in your document using Word’s Track Changes
        • Comments throughout the document explaining changes and suggesting alternatives
        • free follow-up consultation by email or phone

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Both developmental editing and copyediting are completed within the manuscript using the “Track Changes” and “Comments” features in Microsoft Word. 

How do I format my manuscript?

Use a standard 12-point type font, such as Times New Roman. Double-space the entire text and use 1” margins on all sides. Since I typically use the Track Changes feature to insert comments and mark suggested changes, please send your manuscript as a Microsoft Word document file (.doc or .docx).

    • Creation—an act of chaos
      Writing—a process of discovery
      Revision—a reworking of one’s vision
      Editing—an ordering and refining of a writer’s brave new world