If you have been following this blog, you know by now that you should have your written manuscript edited at least two separate times, and that the final proofreading stage is just that—the final run-through before publishing and using the preview copy. In a previous post, we discussed the role of a copy editor, who assists you, the writer, address issues with spelling, grammar, consistency, and so on. However, for a more “big picture” assessment of your manuscript, you need the services of a developmental editor.
The purpose of developmental editing is just what the name says: developing the structure, organization, focus, direction, and content of your manuscript. Your developmental editor will assist you with the placement of special elements such as headings, titles, artwork, and sidebars. A developmental edit will also help you, as a fiction writer, to further enhance your characters and plot and be consistent in your tone and timeline, for example. The job of your developmental editor is to analyze (dissect your manuscript) and synthesize (put back together) your manuscript to help you make it as marketable as possible.
Ideally, you should allow your editor to do an initial critique of your manuscript to determine what level of editing is best suited for your manuscript. If developmental editing is needed, it should come before copyediting. Developmental editing will help you to ensure that your manuscript is coherent, readable, and has the proper theme, premise, and pacing. Developmental editing may include some rewriting of the manuscript; it is very important that you and your developmental editor work closely together and agree on the direction of your work.
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Pamela Hilliard Owens is the founder and CEO of Detroit Ink Publishing, a company that helps authors with their ghostwriting, writing, editing, formatting, manuscript preparation, and self-publishing projects. Contact us here to schedule a free consultation about your needs.