The connection between character and plot

A common problem you’ll come across when editing fiction is a situation where characters are shoved around like chess pieces. Margie the protagonist winds up slapping her best friend not because Margie would ever slap her best friend but because the plot requires the best friend to be slapped. Authors often commiserate with each that…

“Pick your hard” is terrible framing for decision-making

Recently a post popped up in my LinkedIn newsfeed describing how a business coach helped the poster think about decisions using the “pick your hard” framing. The poster used as an example of this approach the framing that “staying healthy is hard” and “having a chronic illness is hard.” The idea is that you can…

Case Study: Solving Problems in Working with Indie Clients  (part 3 of 3)

Recently, a developmental editor colleague expressed some frustration around working with indie authors. She had three main areas of concern, all very common. The first two are addressed here and here.  Here’s the third concern, in the editor’s own words: “The general perception regarding the market value of the work. I think it’s not highly…

Case Study: Solving Problems in Working with Indie Clients  (part 2 of 3)

Recently, a developmental editor colleague expressed some frustration around working with indie authors. She had three main areas of concern, all very common. The first is addressed here. I’m addressing the second today. I’ll address the third next week. Here’s the second concern, in the editor’s own words: “Scope creep: I do it to myself!…

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Case Study: Solving Problems in Working with Indie Clients  (part 1 of 3)

Recently, a developmental editor colleague expressed some frustration around working with indie authors. She had three main areas of concern, and I’m going to address each of these in a blog post. They are all very common concerns. Here’s the first, in her words: “The responsibility. Having someone pay me (hopefully) good money to take…

Editorial Distinctions

It’s very common for authors to be confused about what type of editing their manuscript needs. They’ll ask you to “edit” their ms. You think they mean development but they mean copyediting and they’re disappointed in your work. Or, they’ll say they need someone to fix the grammar when they have much bigger issues than…

What is developmental editing?

Developmental editing is sometimes called content editing, substantive editing, or story editing. The focus is on the big picture, not on sentence-level concerns although we may make sentence-level edits to address the big-picture concerns. For fiction, a developmental editor looks for problems in plot, including implausible plot events and timeline errors; character development, including the…

How to get practice as a developmental editor

“I feel overwhelmed,” editing students tell me from time to time as they learn the craft. Mostly they’re worried that this means they’re not cut out for working as a DE. And sometimes, yes, it’s not a good match for someone’s personality, skills, and abilities. But it’s also perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed. Developmental editing…