Developmental Editing

Novels, nonfiction and memoirs

Generally performed at a per-word rate

What is it?

Also known as content editing and substantive editing, developmental editing focuses on the conceptual and structural development of your long-form work.
While it is a form of editing, it is largely a critique and a guide of sorts to help you address your book’s problems or at least improve it.
It does not include much line editing, if any. Instead it aims to nail down the work’s central idea, narrative arc, and informational flow, as well as tone, voice, style and other key literary elements. Developmental editing is applicable to novels, nonfiction, memoirs, theses, and academic works. 
We will work together in determining what your novel needs to best tell the story and convey the core themes and principles, but you’re ultimately assigning the work to a set of fresh eyes and new ideas, all with the intention of either working out core problems or improving the narrative. It all depends on your goals and the target audience.

Fundamentals covered:

  • Plot or premise. The most crucial element of your work, be it fiction or nonfiction, which distills down to Who, What, Where, and When.
  • Narrative arc. How your story unfolds over the course of the work, it deals with How, In What Order, Why, and By Whom.
  • Conflict and tension. Tension is the glue that holds a story together, and conflict is how it is enacted. The most vital ingredient for a compelling narrative.
  • Themes. Novels and nonfiction employ core themes that carry from the first page to the last, be it redemption, the hero’s journey, or something concrete like social justice or climate change.
  • Point of view, voice, tense, and tone. Perspective and grammatical tense affect your story and the sense of urgency, as do the overall “voice.”
  • Character development and arcs. How your protagonist, antagonist, and subordinate characters change and grow (for better or worse) over the course of your story.
  • Dialogue. One of the most complicated elements, we’ll examine whether it feels natural, reveals character, and propels the plot—or whether it just sounds like people talking.

Pricing, process & results_

Cost: 1.25 cents per word.
After reading the manuscript, I’ll provide a 3–5 page report covering the fundamentals listed to the left, addressing problems, gaps, plot holes, character weaknesses, and narrative and continuity gaps.
Comprehensive assessment: 
Cost: 2 cents per word.
Includes report + comments throughout the document, pinpointing specific issues at precise moments while providing advice, insight, and ideas for solving narrative issues and other core problems (listed at left). In short, I go even deeper, showing you where and how to fix it.
All levels of developmental editing include email or some form of online communication (such as chatting or a Slack office), but the comprehensive assessment includes video or phone discussions.

Why choose Haiku Editorial for developmental editing?

Book editing is not for the faint of heart. Projects may span months or years or may be done in as little as days, depending on your needs and time frame. I am passionate about every step of the process, from inception to development to launch, and I can assist with any or all stages, be it editing, coaching, polishing, or general guidance. But by and large my talent lies in development of books and editing them for style and voice.
As a novelist, I understand the pains, pitfalls, and thrills of large works. I myself am represented by a reputable literary agency for my own work. More than that, I’m not afraid to be honest with my clients—it’s what they pay me for—and I challenge them to go beyond what they’d typically expect of themselves. 
Further, I am passionate about every step of the process, from inception to development to launch, and I can assist with any or all stages, be it editing, coaching, or consultation. 

More reasons:

1. Poetry. I bring to the table a background in the hyper-economical art of poetry, which centers around precision, clarity, and crisp prose. 
2. Efficiency. That doesn’t necessarily mean fast, but it means focused and determined. Since you’re not paying hourly, time isn’t a factor—precision and quality are.
3. I care. I want your book to succeed. The market is glutted with self-published works, and to get noticed you have to revise, refine, and polish until the work truly shines.
4. Talent. I won’t lie: I have a knack for details large and small. I see things in a way others often don’t, be it plot dynamics (fiction) or thematic problems (fiction and nonfiction) , character-related issues, and so forth.
5. Experience. I’ve got a lot of books under my belt at this point. That means a dialed-in process, a systematic method, and a gut-level instinct for what works and what is “off.”
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