My Developmental Editing Method

This page describes in detail how I approach developmental editing, and what people who decide to work with me can expect.

Developmental editing is more complex than line editing, and requires different skills. Line editing focuses on typos, grammar mistakes and the like; developmental editing works on the structure of the story. The structure is composed of the sequence of events, how these events are displayed through the chapters, how the characters are constructed, and how they change during the story. Developmental editing is valid and important both for fiction and creative nonfiction works. The developmental editor is the expert that helps the writer make the story stronger and more meaningful via the way it is told.

Each work has needs of its own, and no editing process is the same – nevertheless, when performing developmental editing I always follow a similar process. I test the three acts division of the plot, examine each single chapter and the growth of the characters, then verify that the story holds together. A good and thorough developmental editing includes all of these phases – but it can get quite expensive, especially for aspiring writers. Therefore, I make each and every phase of the editing available as a single purchase; buying all of them together is still a considerably cheaper option. In this page you can find a detailed description of all of the different phases and fares for each of them.

Overall Plot Scheme

The Overall Plot Scheme is something I always go through, an essential step to understand the story – and, if you purchase this option, I hand you out a formalized output. I fill out a scheme with the different parts of the story, making notes on what doesn’t work and how to fix it. I refer primarily to Syd Field‘s paradigm; when the turning points are of not easy identification, there usually is a structural problem. I also refer to the composition of the fable, as formalised by Vladimir Propp.
The next step is to understand and formalise what’s the fundamental idea that moves the story ahead. Is the story about the strenght of friendship, or perhaps redemption through good deeds? The fundamental idea is not what the writer wants to demonstrate, but what can’t help but shine through the manuscript. A good technique to find the fundamental idea is to summarise the story in one or two sentences; it’s something that obligates to perform a clear analysis of which are the most important conflicts and turning points of the story.
The Overall Plot Scheme is a good idea for someone who doesn’t have much to spend but still wants to make sure the story works well.

Overall Plot Scheme | 10€ per 1.000 words (one reading) up to 80.000 words. Flat addition of 10€ on the total for 80.000+ words (because of the lenght of the work).
Includes:

  • Scheme of the Different Story Parts
  • Fundamental Idea
  • Two Sentence Plot Summary

Chapter Plot Scheme

The Chapter Plot Scheme is basically the same as the Overall Plot Scheme, just repeated for every chapter; theory has it that not only each story is divided into three acts, but also that each chapter within the story has such a structure. A clear division in three acts helps putting up the suspence and intensifying the conflict. When you ask me to perform the Chapter Plot Scheme as my editing (or part of it), I break down the structure of each and every chapter and identify possible problems in the flowing of the narration; I also hand you out one formalised scheme for every chapter. It takes longer and it requires more attention than the Overall Plot Scheme – and that’s why it’s more expensive. It’s ideal if you want to invest a bit more in your novel but you still don’t feel like going all the way in with developmental editing.

Chapter Plot Scheme | 12€ per 1.000 words (one reading)
Includes:

  • Scheme of the Different Story Parts (one for each chapter)
  • Two Sentence Plot Summary (one for each chapter)

Detailed Developmental Analysis

The Detailed Developmental Analysis is my favourite part of developmental editing. I read the text and make notes on the side, in a very thorough and meticolous way. Each scene is examined by itself, evaluating if it’s engaging, if it can be made better, if it’s even necessary for the plot and if it helps or not with stressing the main conflict. It is true that most and the biggest flaws are to be found in the structure of the story, but it’s just with a detailed analysis that the novel can truly get to its best. When you ask for a Detailed Developmental Analysis, you get back notes on the whole of the novel, and you make sure that each and every part of it is checked out – from the major plot holes (often already visible with an Overall Plot Scheme) to the tiniest inconsistency. It’s the most expensive of the editing options, because it’s the most accurate one.

Detailed Developmental Analysis | 15€ per 1.000 words (one reading)
Includes:

  • Side notes on the whole of the text

If you’re interested in purchasing a Detailed Developmental Analysis (and therefore you are okay with investing some money in your novel), I actually suggest you to consider buying it together with the Chapter Plot Scheme. The two are very much complementary to each other, and that’s why there is an option to buy both of them for a cheaper price.

Chapter Plot Scheme & Detailed Developmental Analysis, together | 20€ per 1.000 words (one reading). Instead of 12 + 15 = 27€ per 1.000 words
Includes:

  • Scheme of the Different Story Parts (one for each chapter)
  • Two Sentence Plot Summary (one for each chapter)
  • Side notes on the whole of the text

Character Analysis

The Character Analysis is again a bit of an easier evaluation, and so a slightly cheaper one. It focuses on how the characters are portrayed, and if and how they change according to the developing of the story. To analyse the characters, I refer primarily to the Journey of the Hero (or Monomyth), as described by Joseph Campbell. Another great source of useful information on this topic is The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Chris Vogler – not to mention Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc by Dara Marks. As for the Overall Plot Scheme, I will hand you out a thorough analysis of the main characters, in the form of a written scheme and some notes on what I think works just fine and what could be changed. The ways in which the character acts and his or her voice and dialogue style will also be analysed. The Character Analysis is a great option if your novel is character driven, or if creating characters is your weak point.

Character Analysis | 10€ per 1.000 words (one reading)
Includes:

  • Transformational Arc Scheme (for each main character)
  • Analysis of the Conflicts (for each main character)
  • Analysis of how the Character Acts (for each main character)
  • Analysis of the Character’s dialogue style (for each main character)

Complete Developmental Editing Package

As I said, the ideal way to use developmental editing would be to go through each and every phase I described above. Whilst the Complete Package costs more than any of the other option as a single, it’s actually cheaper when taken as a whole. If your goal is to become a professional writer, you strive for perfection and maybe it’s not even the first novel you write, I would definitely recommend purchasing this Complete Package.

All of the previous phases, together | 25€ per 1.000 words (one reading). Instead of 10 + 20 + 10 = 40€ per 1.000 words
Includes:

  • Scheme of the Different Story Parts (of the story as a whole)
  • Fundamental Idea (of the story as a whole)
  • Two Sentence Plot Summary (of the story as a whole)
  • Scheme of the Different Story Parts (one for each chapter)
  • Two Sentence Plot Summary (one for each chapter)
  • Side notes on the whole of the text
  • Transformational Arc Scheme (for each main character)
  • Analysis of the Conflicts (for each main character)
  • Analysis of how the Character Acts (for each main character)
  • Analysis of the Character’s dialogue style (for each main character)

Unfinished Story Package

Up to now, I’ve been always referring to your work as if you were handing it to me in its completed version. It’s actually never too early to seek developmental editing, and it can be performed on an incomplete story, as well. The structure of the narration as a whole is more easily showcased once the manuscript is completed – but reviewing the concept with the editor early during the writing phase can prevent having to delete entire scenes and change a lot afterwards. In case your work is far from over, I prepared a special option that allows you to get the benefits of early developmental editing and helps you get to the end of your creative journey. It includes any of the options as seen before, for half price, plus some hours of coaching for working on the part of the story that you haven’t written yet. After the first hour of coaching, that must be purchased with the editing, you can buy as many more hours as you want – either in blocks, either one at a time. As an example, if the written part of your story amounts to 40.000 words (more or less 150 pages) and you purchase this package with the option of the Overall Plot Scheme, you will be paying 225€ (5€ times 40, + 25€ for one hour of coaching).

Unfinished Story Package | any of the previous packages, half-priced + one hour of coaching (25€)

Possible options:

  • Overall Plot Scheme, half-priced (5€ per 1.000 words (one reading) up to 80.000 words) + one hour of coaching (25€)
  • Chapter Plot Scheme, half-priced (6€ per 1.000 words (one reading)) + one hour of coaching (25€)
  • Detailed Developmental Analysis, half-priced (7,50€ per 1.000 words (one reading)) + one hour of coaching (25€)
  • Chapter Plot Scheme & Detailed Developmental Analysis, together, half-priced (10€ per 1.000 words (one reading)) + one hour of coaching (25€)
  • Character analysis, half-priced (5€ per 1.000 words (one reading)) + one hour of coaching (25€)
  • Complete Developmental Editing Package, half-priced (12,5€ per 1.000 words (one reading)) + one hour of coaching (25€)

  • 1 Additional Coaching Hour | 25€
  • 5 Additional Coaching Hours | 100€ – Instead of 5 times 25€ = 125€

Please note that when purchasing any of the packages described you will be charged an additional 21% on the total (VAT) in compliance with Dutch law.
More information here (in Dutch).

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