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LESLEY CAPITANCHIK, AUTHOR AND PLAYWRIGHT

Alison is a perceptive and supportive editor who asks thought-provoking questions that encourages you to reflect on your writing and develop it. Her feedback enabled me to develop a short piece of writing into a full-length ensemble audio-drama. Alison’s advice enabled me to improve the characterisation, setting and expression, and I will always be grateful for her input.

DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING: NON-FICTION

Taking a step back: crafting the whole

Developmental editing, also called ‘big picture’ editing, deals with any editing issues that you can see in the book as a whole. If you think of what you see when you envisage the book as a completed manuscript, that will be what a developmental edit engages with. Examples are the shape of the book, what fits or does not fit with the concept, how the topics connect with each other and whether the language fits with the intended audience.

A developmental editor may suggest that the author make extensive changes: moving, deleting, and rewriting whole passages – or even whole chapters. The editor could even suggest that the premise on which the book is written needs tweaking or rethinking.

This could be called ‘big bump’ editing. It is about identifying the big issues that need to be fixed before the work can continue along the editing process: a kind of smoothing over before the fine sanding and polishing of line and copy-editing. 

To see if I work in your area, please check here.

 
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QUESTIONS AN EDITOR MIGHT ASK OF THE MANUSCRIPT

 

Is the argument introduced in a logical way?

Does the introduction set out what the book does?

Is there a clear market for this book?

Does the language fit the book's intended audience?

Do ideas and arguments flow within the chapters?

Do some ideas need more development while others need some cutting?

Does the introduction tell the reader what is going to be discussed? Does the closing chapter sum up the discussion?

DO YOU NEED A DEVELOPMENTAL EDIT?

The following offers some guidelines to see if it is needed.

  • You might feel that there are problems with the flow of your topics but not know if you are right or how to fix them.

  • You may have shared it with either a writing group or a beta reader and the feedback has been negative, contradictory, or not specific enough for you to deal with.

  • You may be someone who doesn't see yourself as a writer.

  • You want to make sure that the structure of your argument is stable and correctly organised before you spend time agonising over getting the words exactly right.  

  • You may have had your proposal accepted by a publisher but want a professional opinion of your early draft before you send it to them.

 

TWO DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING SERVICES

The developmental editing services I offer are full developmental edit and manuscript critique. The difference between them is how much depth each goes into, the time each takes, the cost, and what you receive.

FULL DEVELOPMENTAL EDIT

Editorial report
Fully marked-up manuscript
Book map
Post-editing support

MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE

Editorial report
Book map
Post-editing support

 

EDITORIAL REPORT

A report examining aspects of your manuscript under headings such as title and table of contents, chapter structure, language used, and audience to identify and analyse problems and suggest possible solutions. Also included is an assessment of what the manuscript may need after the suggested revisions are made.

FULLY MARKED-UP MANUSCRIPT

Using Microsoft Word’s track changes and comments functions, page edits are made which pinpoint in the manuscript areas highlighted in the editorial report. For example, the flow of argument in a section is unclear or needs expanded on, if any language is used which doesn’t fit with the tone of the rest or feels out of place. This helps guide the writer in putting into practice the suggestions made in the editorial report.

BOOK MAP

This is a table showing an analysis of the book, section by section, chapter by chapter. It is a brilliant aid both for the writer and the editor in working out the overall shape of the book and as a tool to help them find and fix any issues. It is also incredibly helpful in the rewriting process, especially if substantial parts of the work need to be moved. Which topics will you be moving if you decide to move all of chapter 6 over to part three? Will they all fit thematically there? The book map will tell you!

POST-EDITING SUPPORT

After receiving your feedback, you may want to know more about a certain issue, or you may want further clarification on a suggested revision. Included in your package is either a one-hour meeting on a video or phone call, or for me to answer one email detailing whatever questions you have.

 

WHICH DEVELOPMENTAL EDIT IS FOR YOU

We will discuss which is the best for your manuscript, but as a guide, the following may give you an idea of which is most suitable.

FULL DEVELOPMENTAL EDIT

 A full developmental edit might be best if you:

  • Do not see yourself as a writer

  • Would like to know in detail about where the issues are in your manuscript and how improvements can be made 

  • Are happy to spend more to get the increased attention on the manuscript

MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE

A manuscript critique might be best if you:

  • You are a confident writer 

  • Just need an overview of what might be going wrong

  • Like to work out your own solutions to issues in your manuscript

  • Are on a tight budget

 

VARIATIONS ON THE MAIN SERVICE.

Developmental editing is not just for novels. The following can also be treated with developmental analysis.

DEVELOPMENTAL EDITS FOR SHORT PIECES

Articles and reports can also benefit from an examination of their structure. This edit will include a short report as well as a marked-up manuscript.

PARTIAL DEVELOPMENTAL EDIT

Maybe you only want one aspect of your manuscript examined, for example you may have had negative feedback on your tone. I can examine your piece focusing got only that aspect at a lower price than a full developmental edit or manuscript critique.

 

WHAT NEXT?

For all the practical aspects, such as costs and timescales, and to be taken through the process of hiring me as a non-fiction editor, please see The Practicals.