Developmental Editing

Craft an unputdownable story that'll make sleep seem a waste of time

Have you given your story your all – really thrown everything at it – but some parts just don’t pull the right strings?

Perhaps your characters all sound the same, or you’ve built this cool world with tons of backstory and lore but it doesn’t feel alive.

Maybe you can’t pin down exactly what’s going wrong, but something is holding your story back; you feel it in your bones.

Find out where your story's falling flat and how to fix it

Writing a novel is a lot like spinning plates.

Have you seen the act? A juggler spins a china plate on top of a pole, then starts spinning a second plate on another pole and so on until several are going at once.

As they start to slow and wobble, the juggler rushes back and spins them again before they fall.

Only with a novel, each plate is a vital story ingredient: character development, worldbuilding, conflict, pacing – the list goes on.

It’s overwhelming to keep on top of it all – being so close to your story means it’s nearly impossible to zoom out and inspect the whole with an objective lens.

But if those elements aren’t working together to create an engrossing narrative (or if some have stopped spinning altogether), your story will feel flat.

You’ve heard it before (or said it yourself): ‘The adventure was epic but I couldn’t relate to the characters. They were sooo dull!’ or ‘The worldbuilding was epic but nothing really… happened’.

Let’s make sure those words never reach readers’ mouths (or fingertips).

Let's make sure the story on the page matches the one in your head.

Being familiar with your story makes it tough to know whether your beautiful descriptions strengthen the scene or dampen pacing, your conflicts add tension or lack meaning, or your characters’ motivations make sense or bewilder your reader.

I’ll help to fine-tune your story to make it as tight and compelling as possible.

What is a developmental edit?

A developmental edit gives you personalised, detailed feedback about what’s working in your manuscript, what isn’t, and how to revise it so it comes out stronger.

What’s important is it’s not a ‘fix’ – I won’t overstep and act like an unwanted co-author. Rather, my focus is on using what’s already within the story to improve it, not introducing ideas on a whim.

This:

'Back in chapter 4 Clyde mentioned he has [this skill]. Rather than this unexpected solution to his current problem, you could show his resourcefulness by having him use [said skill]. This would resolve the scene in a far more satisfying way, rather than seeming contrived.'

Not this:

'You know, this scene would be far more interesting if Addie becomes a romantic interest here, which would kickstart a spicy subplot.'

Who is a developmental edit for?

If you have a completed fantasy, sci-fi, or horror novel and…

Then this would be for you! If, however, you’ve only finished your first draft and done some light revision, a manuscript evaluation may be the better option.

This service is also specifically for those writing for a Western audience. Why the clarification?

Good writing involves the meeting of expectations, particularly of those who have notions of what makes writing good. Character agency and growth, showing more than telling, conflict driving the narrative – these ‘tenets’ of strong storytelling aren’t universal; they’re products of Western preferences. I edit acknowledging that the techniques I use aren’t the default of good writing, but those that satisfy a Western audience. To ignore this is to ignore the existence of traditions and cultures that differ from our own.

What does it include?

Feedback of big-picture story elements, including:

    • character development
    • worldbuilding
    • plot/story
    • tension and conflict
    • pacing
    • theme
    • show versus tell

Not only will I flag problem areas, but I’ll also provide suggestions to fix them. If needed, I’ll rewrite a passage to show you how you could implement certain changes (this will only ever be done in tracked changes or in a separate document). I’ll always deliver kind, constructive, to-the-point feedback.

Two rounds of editorial feedback

The first round will offer detailed feedback via an editorial report, which will cover the most pressing big-picture issues and provide a roadmap for improvements. You’ll also be told what I feel you’re doing well – don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom!

For the second round, your revised novel will then be edited, complete with in-line comments and a second, more detailed report to guide you through the suggestions.

Depending on the shape of your manuscript, it may only need one round of editing, which includes the report and comments, without the inital, standalone report.

Your questions answered

I’ll be happy to answer two rounds of questions you may have about my feedback via email.

How it works

Step one

I'll send you a short form to fill out so I can find out all about your story and your goals for it.

Step two

I'll ask to see your manuscript in full to prepare a quote or decide if you'll benefit from a manuscript evaluation first or if it'll be a one- or two-round process.

Step three

All happy? Great! We'll discuss dates and I'll send over the quote (including the deposit due) and the agreement.

Step four

Once I receive the deposit and the signed agreement, I'll block out the space in my diary ready for work. I'll check in with you the week before the start date.

What does it cost?

Full developmental edit

As every manuscript is different, prices vary per project. Typically, an 80,000-word manuscript costs between £1,400 and £2,000 (with a two-round edit being at the higher end).

As two rounds (and the time in-between to allow for your revision) will be lengthy, they will be billed separately to ease the pressure off your shoulders to meet deadlines (life just gets in the way sometimes).

As I’d have worked on your manuscript already, I’d charge the second round less than I normally would for one round of editing.

Developmental revision letter only

This forms the basis of the first round of editing. I also offer this as a standalone service if you don’t want in-line comments and tracked changes – you’ll still receive an in-depth roadmap for revision.

This costs £8 per 1000 words plus report-writing time, which will be included in a full quote.

Any words over 100,000 are charged at 50% lower for either service.

Want to craft a narrative that compels?

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