A developmental editor might seem as mysterious as a witch mixing ominous potions into a cauldron while you're strapped to a slab of wood, watching with hope or horror. All you have to do is drink this fresh, sparkling concoction, and a) your writing troubles will be over, or b) your book will be destroyed.
Wouldn't that be terrifyingly fantastic?
It's actually like a respectful dance, where writer and editor go back and forth—learn each other's styles—so the editor can come up with the most useful solutions and the writer can create the best book possible.
It goes something like this:
You write ideas from the bottom of your heart. Then you hate it. But you still love it. (I can't quit you, book.)
I profess my love for your painstaking work, nudge you with some suggestions—based on my knowledge of writing techniques, story structure, character development, and genre expectations—and prompt you to revisit certain areas with a closer look.
You hit the ground running with new inspiration, motivation, and extra writing tools. You also follow up with me about an idea, or tell me which solution isn't working like you wanted.
I go back to those last few threads that weren't quite there and give you three more solutions. Because often, there can be many possible solutions to fix the same problem. Anything can be reasoned through, but it's about intention and outcome.
I think it's getting close! Why, yes, the plan is perfect.
You love it. I love it. AND IT WORKS.
Disclaimer: P.S. it's 100% your book.
This dance is only successful if the editor listens to the author's vision and the author opens her mind and rolls up her sleeves to new fixes. We must both stay humble—with our brains sharp. And you, dear author, will have the tools you need to perfect your story.
And the next one.
And the one after that.