girl w stack books_legs_no line underneath_edited.jpg
girl w stack books_legs_no line underneath.jpg

Developmental Editing—Keep those pages turning!

A developmental edit addresses the big picture. Getting it right provides you with a solid infrastructure on which to build a story that will keep readers engaged until the last page. Your story line is built on a plot curve, or you can think of it as a narrative arc. A good story has a plot supported by a clear theme, an exposition, rising action, a pinnacle, falling action, and a resolution. It's important you make the theme crystal clear early on, and make sure that your main character has changed in some way by the end of the story.

I will provide you with a detailed editorial memo that includes my summary and first impressions, and addresses things like plot/story line, conflict and tension, character development, dialogue, pacing, readability, point of view, voice and tone, and consistency, as well as my recommendations for next steps.

 

To get a better idea of how a good story is constructed, break down a favorite book, television show, or even a song. Take Cinderella for example. 

  1. Theme: Good vs. evil, cruelty doesn't pay

  2. Exposition: Cinderella lives with her cruel stepmother and wicked stepsisters, and they are all invited to the prince's ball.

  3. Conflict: Cinderella is forbidden to go to the ball, and she doesn't have a suitable dress anyway.

  4. Rising Action:

    • ​Cinderella's fairy godmother appears and conjures up a sparkling ball gown, glittering glass slippers, and a carriage. She warns Cinderella that she must leave the ball before the stroke of midnight or all her beautiful things will disappear. (The prince cannot know her footmen are really mice!)

    • Cinderella dances with the prince.

    • Cinderella loses one of her glass slippers as the bell tolls the midnight hour.

    • The prince declares he will marry the woman whose foot the slipper fits.

    • The evil stepsisters have big feet.

  5. ​​Climax: The glass slipper fits Cinderella.

  6. ​​Falling Action: Cinderella and the prince marry.

  7. ​​Resolution: They live happily ever after.

I also use a tool called the Save the Cat! Beat Sheet, which drills down further into the overarching plot elements outlined here. The beat sheet originated with Blake Snyder as a primer on how to write a screenplay. Jessica Brody has adapted Snyder's beat sheet for novels in Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You'll Ever Need. It's an outstanding resource to help authors construct a publish-worthy novel.

Once your story contains all the plot elements that make a good read, it's time move on to the next level of editing, which is typically a line edit.

 

Please contact me to get started!