The Deal with Developmental Edits

There are a number of different types of editing that a novel has to go through like line edits, copy edits, proofreads. A developmental edit is the first step to a professional edit [you should most definitely self edit your novel prior to giving it to a professional]. Now if you are planning on going down the traditional publishing route then you won’t need to hire an editor yourself, your publisher will have an editor – but regardless of the route you take you will need an editor to do a developmental edit on your novel & you then implement those changes. Ink & Fable Publishing paired me with my marvellous editor & I am so grateful to have been able to work with her. A developmental edit assesses the novel as a whole, it takes a look at big picture things like plot points, character arcs, plot holes etc. In some cases like The Bloody Maiden, the editor will take the whole story apart piece by piece & rearrange it to make it fit properly like a puzzle. Now I want to clarify that my editor didn’t move everything around she simply assessed certain points that either happened too fast consecutively or scenes that happened later in the book than they should have. We worked together to rearrange those pieces to fit them into the plot where they were of most benefit & also adding scenes where more development was needed – I’m an under-writer, if you’re an over-writer [which is often the case] your editor may cut scenes that are superfluous instead of adding more]. So in order to give you a clear idea of what dev edits are like as a writer I’m going to break down the process of editing TBM for you.

Stage 1

So first of all my editor read through the whole of TBM & took notes about her thoughts on the story itself, the plot, pacing, characters etc. When I gave it to her I already had a couple of notes on what I knew needed work but wasn’t quite sure how to implement it so that she could keep that in mind when taking notes. I also made sure that she knew what the basis of the plot was – roughly what the blurb was as I didn’t want to ruin surprises later in the book prior to her reading them. It was important to me that she react to certain scenes the same way she would as a reader so that we could establish whether they come across as intended in the prose.

We had a few video calls during this part of the developmental edit as it was mainly discussing concepts & reorganising big chunks which was much easier to do over a call than in notes & emails. We went through each plot point & scene pinpointing the purpose it served & where it fit best into the narrative, making sure that each chapter [I have very long chapters] had a good balance of the main plot & all subplots throughout with vital character building as well.

Stage 2

Once we’d formed a solid plan of what needed to be changed or tweaked big picture wise we set about planning what additional scenes needed to go into the story – some were for character development, others were to bridge the gap between scenes. Again a lot of this was done via video chats because of the amount of discussion that went into this stage but working together made it very easy to determine what scenes needed to be added in order to complete the story.

We’d broken down the entire plot into chapters & scenes – one bullet point per scene [I had around 5 scenes per chapter] with colour coding to show which subplot covered each scene to ensure there was a good balance of all subplots within each chapter. From there it was clear to see which areas needed additional scenes to help round out & develop the chapter into what it needed to be.

Stage 3

Finally once we’d ripped it all apart & pieced it back together I got down to writing the new scenes whilst my editor began her copy edits. Alongside her doing a copy edit in chronological order she assessed the new scenes to ensure that they were meeting the beats that were needed & once they were done she copy edited those scenes too. Whilst a lot of editors do the developmental edit & copy edit completely separately this method of doing them not quite simultaneously but in the same process, allowed us to really refine points of the novel & I found it to be a productive process. I’m normally a very slow writer but these additional scenes got done much quicker than previous scenes & I think that that is down to the process of writing it alongside the developmental edit & copy edit.

I loved the editing process [both self & professional] & am currently writing The Bloody Maiden’s sequel, eagerly awaiting the chance to work with my editor again. Right now you can grab your own copy of The Bloody Maiden from any of your preferred book retailers.

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