Many writers often ask how their first draft gets turned into a polished manuscript that is ready for publication. This first step is called the developmental edit, which takes place after the text has been completed. Most people think of editing as just grammar, punctuation, and proofreading, but those are more line level elements; developmental editing, or substance editing as it’s sometimes called, is all about the content: the meat of the story and what form it will take by the time it reaches readers. This is the phase where we analyze characters, plot, setting, and even the pace of the story. These are the big issues that require the use of three techniques to help refine the story: growing, pruning, and shaping.
Whether you specialize in developmental editing, copyediting, proofreading, or some combination of the three, there are a few great online platforms you can use to kickstart or revamp your freelance career.
In the developmental editing process, you might notice an author relying on similar images and words that are repeated every so often throughout the manuscript. As editors, we can facilitate and expand the growth of our authors’ prose through poetry to inspire fresh language and images. By encouraging the author to read poetry for specific craft skills and ideas, they can translate what the poets are doing to their prose writing, and add more diverse elements to their style.
I wish I had learned about the connection between editing and revising sooner. I fell in love with revision and realized that my passion is in helping other writers create their best work. Revising helped me realize that I want to work in the publishing industry; I just wish these connections were made clearer in high school. I would have realized my passion much sooner.
Writing a story takes blood, sweat, and tears, and the process of revising one’s own work takes time and dedication. All this hard work culminates in a promising manuscript, but in order to achieve the most success, a manuscript needs the attention of a professional editor. To receive the best editing, it’s important to know what to ask for—and that requires knowing the levels of editing offered.
There are so many moments to take in during the editing process, but perhaps one of the most basic considerations is HOW it all happens. There are certain things that HAVE to happen, but they might not always happen in the right order or in the same way for everyone. If it happens and it happens well, is the HOW really that important? Maybe. Maybe not.