“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 has a steep learning curve. You can love to read and know a lot about the writing craft and have excellent critical skills and still have a lot to master. It’s a very complex process.
What you need more than anything is practice. So, where can you get some?
*A good, low-risk way is to read popular novels that have several in-depth professional reviews. Ideally these would be novels in the genre(s) you’re interested in editing. I talked about this approach here.
*Join a book club to learn what other people experience when reading the same novel. Even novels published by traditional publishers can have developmental problems, and you can practice the skill of identifying what these are.
*Take part in a writers’ group as an editor (explain your goals first).
*Offer to do beta reads (reader reactions) for writers. If you’re a writer yourself, offer to be a critique partner.