Developmental Editing

Editing for the Story and the Big-Picture

Developmental editing focuses on the big picture and your narrative as a whole.

I spend time assessing how all of the elements and pieces of your story work together, including your characters, plot, and worldbuilding. I give feedback on what you’re doing well and what areas could use additional work, showing you ways to improve the reader’s experience of the story.

Potential issues and solutions

I point out potential issues, explain why they matter and how they impact the reader’s experience, and give examples of potential solutions.

My goal as a developmental editor isn’t to tell you what to do. Rather, I give recommendations and provide you with the information you need in order to bring your story to the next level.

Developmental editing comes first

This is the stage where big-picture issues are fixed and major plot holes are resolved.

Since it can lead to significant revisions to the story, this phase of the editing process should be completed before any other editing is done.

If you’re not sure whether or not you need a developmental edit, take a look at my article on the elements of a good story. It could give you a sense of whether you’re hitting all the right ideas that will draw readers in and make them love your novel.


What it looks like:

  • You send me your manuscript as a Word document
  • We discuss what areas you’re most interested in getting feedback for
  • I send the manuscript back with comments that draw your attention to passages and ideas that could use more work
  • I provide a review letter that gives feedback on the manuscript as a whole and explains the most important areas to focus on and how to go about your revision process

Fantasy Developmental Editing

When I do a developmental edit of a fantasy novel, worldbuilding is usually one of my main focuses. I check that your fantasy world:

    • Feels believable and internally consistent
    • Feels complete with no major missing pieces
    • Effectively draw readers in to help them enjoy the story

Fantasy novels often have issues with exposition. In this area, I do things like:

    • Note which sections have too much exposition that may slow down the story
    • Show you where more exposition may be needed to help readers understand the story
    • Help you find ways to work in necessary information in a way that feels natural and doesn’t take readers away from the story

Fantasy novels frequently have several points of view, and this is another thing that my developmental might focus on. Among other things, I would:

    • Make sure that each point of view is established clearly
    • Check that all transitions are easy for readers to follow
    • Catch any slip-ups where the narrative unintentionally moves into a different POV than you intended

These are just a few of the many areas that developmental editing can focus on. All developmental edits will examine all types of plot holes and big-picture issues, regardless of genre. 

Romance Developmental Editing

For romance novels, my developmental edits often have a special focus on your two main characters and their relationship. I frequently help with tasks such as:

    • Showing the main characters’ flaws and strengths so that they will feel three dimensional
    • Ensuring the main characters are likeable, to the degree that you intend them to be
    • Checking that the main characters are relatable and will be easy for readers to connect with

I also look for issues with the primary relationship including:

    • Too much or too little conflict
    • Inadequate resolution of conflict
    • Unhealthy relationship dynamics that aren’t intended

I keep an eye out for anything that could put readers off and prevent them from connecting with the story, including:

    • Tropes or plot points that your readers may dislike
    • Areas where the story moves to slowly or too quickly
    • Anything readers may struggle to understand

While these are examples of what I often focus on for a developmental edit of a romance novel, every book is different and has different needs. All developmental edits will examine all types of plot holes and big-picture issues, regardless of genre. 

Additional Marketing & Publishing Help

I don't just want to make your book better; I also want to help you sell it, whether directly to readers or to a publisher.

All my edits for self-publishers include blurb editing and Amazon keyword research at no extra cost. I also provide some marketing advice, coaching, and moral support through the self-publishing process.

All of my edits for authors who plan to pursue traditional publishing include query editing at no extra cost as well as advice and moral support.

Most editors don't offer these services, and those that do can be difficult to find.

There are people who offer these as standalone services, but those people haven't read your full manuscript and therefore can't advise you to the level that I'm able to.

Not what you’re looking for?

Maybe the developmental editing described here isn’t quite what your manuscript needs. In that case, check out the other services that I offer or my article on choosing the right type of editing.

For a more affordable option that focuses on the same big-picture issues, consider a manuscript evaluation.

If you’ve spent time on the big-picture issues already but still want some in-depth editing, you may be interested in a line edit