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.
No matter how brilliant a piece of writing is, if it doesn’t know who the audience should be or doesn’t give enough context about its subject, the writing fails to be read, understood, and shared. It fails to communicate. The same holds true for book design.