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Developmental editing is a type of book editing that focuses on ideas, the substance of your story. You might also see it listed as “substantive editing” or a “substantive editor,” depending on where you look.
A developmental editor will focus on:
• Your book’s genre. What type of story are you writing? What elements do readers expect from that type of story? Are those elements present in interesting and innovative ways?
• Your book’s structure. Is there a beginning, middle, and end? Does the story include all the elements of storytelling, starting with an inciting incident and building to a climax and resolution? For a nonfiction book, have you communicated your point clearly, and organized the ideas in a logical flow building from the start of the book to the end?
• Your book’s characters. Do you have too many characters, or too few? What are their goals? Do they make interesting choices to achieve those goals? Do those choices show strong characterization and move the plot forward?
• Your book’s theme. What is this book really about? Why did you choose to write it, and what makes it important to you? What do you want readers to take away from it? How can you make that theme more powerful and impactful throughout the story?
• Your book’s point of view. What point of view are you using in your book? Is it an effective choice for your story? Is it consistent throughout the book?
• Your readers’ expectations. Will your book satisfy your readers? Will it stand out on the shelves as a book that brings something new and exciting to its genre?