What is Developmental Editing?

Developmental editing is the editing heavily involved with early revision drafts. It focuses on the overall story content and how you control the reader’s experience. This breaks down into:

  • Character arcs
  • Plot
  • Themes
  • Pacing
  • Writing style
  • Symbolism
  • Timelines
  • World building
  • Voice
  • Reader reactions

These are addressed with alpha readers, beta readers, critique groups, manuscript evaluations, literary edits, and draft revisions. However, you can initially work on these on your own. Most writers take the first step of developmental editing themselves and then bring in other eyes for second, third, fourth, and/or later drafts (depending on a writer’s preference and comfort zone).

As you begin self-editing developmental content, there are strategies and methods you can use to help you analyze different aspects of content and reader reactions. These will help you look at your writing with new perspectives and iron out kinks that are difficult to catch as the author.

Methods & Strategies

Editing Conflict

Identifying Pacing Problems´╗┐

Plot Diagrams for Character and Plot Arcs

Re-Outline Editing

The Importance of Story

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Developmental editing overlayed on a proofreading document