What is Developmental Editing?

Updated: Jan 14

Developmental editing focuses on the "bigger picture" of a manuscript and is usually carried out before copy editing and proofreading.

To give you more of an insight, here is a list of areas a developmental editor may home in on, and questions they may have in mind when polishing your work:

Character Development: Are the characters believable and likeable? Are they relatable and realistic enough for the genre and target audience? Has the reader provided enough detail about them?

Plot: Is the story believable? Is the ultimate goal realistic and achievable? Is it engaging? Are there any plot holes that need addressing? Does the plot suit the genre and target audience? Will it sell?

Subplots: Do the subplots enhance the story? Are they relevant to the main plot? Are they exciting or too complicated?

Dialogue: Is the dialogue believable a realistic to each character? Has each character got a unique voice? Does the dialect match and reflect the time or geographic area? Does the dialogue suit the age of the characters?

Chapters: Do the chapter titles match the content? Are they all a similar length? Are they in the correct order? Could any chapters be cut or merged to tighten the overall structure?

Structure: Is the manuscript structured correctly? Does it follow the three-act structure? Is there a strong beginning, middle, and end?

These are all questions a developmental editor may think about when editing a manuscript, but it's always helpful to keep them in mind yourself when revising your work. Some writers hate the self-editing stage and jump straight into professional editing, but trying to edit your own content will broaden your skills and ultimately make you a better writer!

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