Developmental Editing


Developmental editing is a thorough and in-depth review of your entire manuscript. It examines all the elements of your writing, from individual words and sentences to overall structure and style. In fiction, this edit will also address any issues related to plot and characterization.

Good developmental editing will bear your target audience in mind and assess your work in relation to industry standards and expectations. Only once your manuscript has been revised, reshaped, and developed will it be ready for a copy edit and proofread.

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A developmental edit is a critical stage of the editing process that can help elevate an author’s work. Learn more about navigating the intense process.

Developmental editing can be a useful aid in the book-writing process for both fiction and nonfiction writers. The developmental edit occurs before a manuscript is published, and focuses mainly on improving big picture story elements. A developmental editor will give notes to the author regarding content and structure in an effort to bring out the best version of their manuscript.

What Is Developmental Editing?

Developmental editing is a phase of the book editing process where editors give a thorough evaluation of an author’s work to help determine what it needs in order to be ready for publishing. This manuscript critique addresses various story element issues like plot holes, poor character development, confusing dialogue, sentence phrasing, and any other issues that arise in relation to story elements.

When to Do a Developmental Editing?

Developmental editing is generally the first step of editing to seek out once you have a completed draft of your manuscript. After submitting your work to a professional editor for a manuscript evaluation, they will review and compose what is known as an “editorial letter,” a summary highlighting all the story issues they’ve come across in your book. Since this could result in a series of rewrites, it is best this phase comes before any proofreading or fine-tuning, as any polishing is subject to be undone by new edits.

However, every author’s process is different. Some writers prefer to utilize the services of a developmental editor earlier on to help solidify broader ideas, while others may choose not to involve one until they’ve already had it read by peers and completed multiple rewrites on their own.

Regardless of when you decide to undergo a developmental edit, it is a critical stage of the editing process, and can help elevate an author’s work.

Developmental Editing > Line Editing > Copy Editing > Proofreading