“So… What Are the Editing Styles?”: All About Developmental Editing

Welcome back to Madison K. Darby Editing!

I’m glad you’re here and am excited to continue our series all about the different editing styles!

Before we begin, I’d like to give you some news about the other parts of the website. Our Get Lit section, which will be all about books and literature, is really taking off, and I’m excited about its awesome start! Right now, we have Muggles and Mocha—our Harry Potter book club!—and soon, we’ll have some other articles popping up as well. I’m particularly looking forward to some author spotlights I have planned.

For “Writing Tips,” I’m sad to say we’re coming to the end of our first series—it’s been fun to write! I have some more exciting topics coming up, but I’d like to hear from you as well. Contact me if there’s any specific topic you’d like to hear about when it comes to writing advice!

Today in our “So… What Are the Editing Styles?” series, we’re covering my favorite—developmental editing! The two we’ve covered so far (copy and line editing) are all about grammar and writing style; they’re very technical and are what people usually think of when they hear the word “editing.” Developmental editing, however, is a little bit different. It’s all about the deeper elements of the book—plot, pacing, flow, character development, and so forth. Now we’re getting into why all of you are writing in the first place: the story you want to tell.

With this style, you’re working to make sure the story elements of your book reach their highest possible potential. When I apply this edit to a book, it usually consists of a document full of notes and suggestions for my authors about so many different things. A couple of these are:

  • World-building. This is especially helpful for fantasy or science fiction pieces, works where you’re constructing a world from your imagination. Even though this world is fictional, it needs to have rules in order for your readers to understand it. Ensuring your world is completely cohesive will only enhance the story that happens within it.
  • Fluid character development throughout the entire book. Along with an exciting story, your book will be all about your characters. We want to relate to these people, to see what makes them who they are. Developmental edits are wonderful for examining each of your characters and making sure they react and behave in ways that make sense. We also need to clearly see how they change throughout the story.
  • Continuity issues. This is extra important! Sometimes, we start a plot point that doesn’t resolve or write something that doesn’t completely fit with other parts of our book. This is where developmental editing comes in! Your editor will help you spot these instances.
  • Entertainment value. Of course, you want your book to be fun to read. This editing style will make sure your story is dynamic as well as consistent.
  • Pacing and enhancing important moments. This element of the edit ensures the flow of your book is understandable and that enough attention is paid to the most important parts of your manuscript. This is especially crucial for books that rely on tension and a satisfying build-up to the climax of the story.

I’m sure the benefits of this style are obvious—you want your story to be as gripping as possible while also being air-tight, with no plot holes or confusing character arcs.

Something to know—what you need from a developmental edit will be different from other authors. Remember, every writer and book are unique, and each will need special attention paid to different components. For instance, a fantasy book will have different issues than a book on business know-how. Both can benefit from a developmental edit, but this edit will focus on their areas of need. The fantasy novel may need some work regarding the setting and the climax of the story, when the adventure comes to a head. The business book, on the other hand, may need to focus on the order that the information is conveyed so it flows naturally, with a concentration on the structure of the book.

No matter what genre, though, the developmental edit is perfect for polishing those deeper elements that make your book unique.

So, that’s developmental editing! This is technically the last editing style we’ll be covering in this series. Next week, we’ll discuss some of the services I provide that fall under coaching—book building. This will specifically be for those of you who have always wanted to write a book and have maybe even written down a couple of paragraphs; I offer a couple of book building services that will help you take that leap! I’m excited to discuss what this entails with you next Tuesday.

Until next time! Keep an eye out for my newest Muggles and Mocha article this coming Friday.

Write on!

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4 Replies to ““So… What Are the Editing Styles?”: All About Developmental Editing”

  1. May I simply say what a comfort to discover someone that truly knows what they are discussing on the net. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people have to look at this and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular since you certainly have the gift.


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