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Developmental Editing

I read your draft and help shape it – Is it significant? Coherent? What Makes it Work? Where does it slow down or lose its way? How could you strengthen it (or rescue it)?

  It would be easy to assume that editing is what you read about in Dryer’s English or the CMOS.

   But there’s a stage before you red-pencil sentences or challenge punctuation, and that’s called Developmental Editing.

   That is the first kind of edit for any manuscript.  As your editor my job is to look over your whole draft for internal consistency, structure, story line, characters, and stakes for the protagonist, among other things. What’s missing and what might you cut out to engage and keep your readers going?

  To wrap it up, I write you an editorial letter commenting on the sweep of your book, the personalities of your characters and how they change through the story, the stakes for them, any slow spots that will lose a reader, and how to make your writing grip and hold your reader spellbound to the end.

   A memoir is a story – your story, the story of significant change in your life that will interest your readers and even give them a blueprint for their lives. There are times when the difference between a great story and a mediocre story is merely that the author hasn’t thought of something, some underlying question, that would provide depth.

    Perhaps it’s just that the writer failed to describe how much is at stake for the protagonist or what the fundamental struggle is about. A good developmental editor asks those questions and stimulates great answers.


   Read this insight from Sara Roahen’s Services Page (

   “A writer and an editor who trust each other and who share the goal of improving a piece of writing can attain a state of literary alchemy together that maximizes both of their strengths. Some writers view the editing process as the point where creativity ends; I view it as elevated creativity. 

   “It’s during the editing process when the biggest ideas are examined, and when the most minute details come into focus.”