Today I'm writing about developmental editing practices. Specifically, when to edit and when to comment - both tools of Track Changes. But navigating an entire manuscript can seem daunting when we're working with authors on a creative level. We need to get as close as we can to the content, live in the author's fictional world, without overstepping.
I've been playing in Prezi lately because I've wanted to create a simple and hopefully easy-to-understand presentation to explain what developmental editing is. What do you think?
I submerge myself in authors’ stories. And while I’m in those stories, I’m thinking about them a lot—whether I’m directly editing them or doing something else. Those stories are still moving around in my mind. It’s unlike any normal reading experience.
How do we start a story that’s been consuming us for weeks, maybe even months? Do we begin describing some backstory to give readers immediate context or do we throw readers directly in the middle of an action-packed moment?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the mantra “show, don’t tell” and I always want to shake my fist and say “not always.”
In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I thought it would be a great reminder to talk about “Little Darlings" as Kristen Lamb calls them. Little Darlings are the detailed pieces of our writing we stop and fuss over when there’s a million things wrong with our story’s foundation.
Think of a person who’s had a long day of dropping her kids off at school, going to work, driving her kids to soccer practice, coming home to make dinner, putting the kids to bed, and then finally has an hour or two to herself before she has to go to sleep. Can your book keep this tired person turning the pages before bedtime?
Suppose you’re in the middle of plotting or revising. You have your main antagonist and protagonist outlined. You’ve set up their opposing agendas within your plot. But what about the scenes when good and evil aren’t battling each other? Does the rest of the story fall flat? Feel static? Maybe you need more conflict, just not a lot of the same. Different types of conflict.
Finding the right editor is no easy task. Like writers, editors vary in editing style, approach, and skill. Sample edits are a great way to get to know editors and how they will affect your work.
“The most important thing to remember is that, no matter how much work a developmental editor does on a manuscript, the writer makes the final decisions.” As a writer myself (and one susceptible to low self-esteem), I honestly understand the anxiety writers feel when they send their manuscripts to anybody for a second opinion. The anxiety is much higher knowing it’s in an editor’s hands because editors are by nature, reading with critical eyes.