Why I Love Developmental Edits

Every good editor has a passion for their craft and my love for the transformative power of the developmental edit is no different. Here are three reasons why I absolutely love what I do for my authors.

1 | Diving into Content and Structure

I'll be the first to admit that I can't resist the call to improve content and structure in a story. Developmental edits are all about these areas; covering everything from premise, plot, characters, world-building, conflict, structure, pacing and more. This is the stuff that engages readers and keeps us hooked (just look at the Harry Potter series). As an avid reader of thrillers / mystery books, I love reading my author's work just as much as reading for fun – perhaps more, when I can help them improve! So, whether it's charting character arcs and relationships, separating the red-herrings from the clues or dropping my jaw at an innovative ending, I love that the developmental edit allows me to delve, heart first, into the world of my author's work and challenge them to create their most engaging story.

2 | A Safe Space to Play

The purpose of a developmental edit is to develop your writing on a macro scale. This means we'll look at all the big picture elements to examine the strengths and weaknesses of your story as a whole. The key to a good developmental edit (and editor!) is being able to create a safe space for you, the writer, to play; to spar ideas and suggestions off one another, so you can create the best version of your story. These edits should never force you to change something you love or criticise you in a way that makes you feel you're doing something wrong.


There are no right or wrong answers and it's your prerogative to pursue the book you want to write, not what your editor (or anyone else) thinks you should write. The integrity of your writing and your voice should always remain intact.

This is what I love about developmental edits; not only do I enjoy getting excited about the strengths of my author's work, but I'm also passionate about helping them grow their confidence and skills, using my editing expertise to offer suggestions for improvement on any weaker spots. That said...

The number of suggestions offered in a developmental edit doesn't necessarily reflect an author's writing ability.

Sometimes, it can simply be alternative ways to breathe new life into a genre trope, or supercharge the relationships between the characters and their story arc, to draw a reader in even more. All I want is to help my writers create their best work, and the only way I can do that is if you feel safe enough to share and develop with me. That is the power of a developmental edit.

3 | The Gandalf to your Frodo

As a self-published author, I know from experience how daunting it can be to send your work to an editor. But it needn't be. Sending your manuscript for a developmental edit isn't like marking an essay. Although the primary focus is on critiquing the work, it should never be a straight list of "wrong-doings" or crossings out with red marker.

My job is to act as a friendly guide for my authors.

I'm passionate about helping you improve and grow, not tearing you down. For starters, there's no red pen. But more importantly, I will always highlight your strengths so you know what works well (and there will be plenty!) and how you can build on that. I will also only ever make suggestions to improve your work. It's up to you to revise accordingly or not. Plus, my developmental edits are not merely a one-and-done service. I welcome questions before and after, on anything you need, and offer additional support with your revisions for a discounted fee. You'll also get free access to my Writing Guides, covering essential ways to improve your craft and how to understand editorial letters – these are especially useful for any writers in the early stages of their career or working with an editor for the first time. Basically, don't worry Frodo, you will get that ring to Mordor with this editing wizard by your side.

So those are the three things I love about the developmental edit. There, it's not so scary now, is it?

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About the Author

Hollie is a writer and developmental editor for independent authors. 

She writes mindful self-improvement and creative writing tips.