Developmental Editing

Developmental Editing

You’ve done it! Your draft is ready for the next step. During the Developmental Editing stage, we’ll work on some necessary structure and content issues.

After the analysis and commentary, you’ll have some revisions to make and sections to tighten and clarify. We’ll work together, so expect emails back and forth as we cover:

Strengths and weaknesses
Plot, Character, Dialogue
Reader’s experience
Goals and obstacles
Setting, Narration, Pacing

Click on the tabs below for more information.

This is the heavy stage where we really dig into the story on various levels. There will be comments and marks all over the pages in lots of great colors, a lengthy editorial report, and helpful links and resources to assist with revisions.

As there will be rewrites after this stage, I will not focus on grammar, punctuation, or sentence structure items that normally fall under line edits.

If you are ready to dive into your story or if you have questions about this stage, drop me an email and let’s chat.



The editorial report will cover these tabbed categories, plus items you wish to have me pay particular attention to. Open the tabs for more information.



Here are your PASTO ingredients to a good plot: Preparation, Attack, Struggle, Turn, Outcome.

Preparation: The reader wants to know time period, genre, and location right away. Main characters are introduced here, and the reader learns why this story is happening at this particular moment in time.

Attack: After the introduction of your main character and her goal of the story, you want to let the reader know who she is up against. Just who is her antagonist and what is the catalyst that disrupts the status quo and sets things off and running? The roadblock to the protagonist’s goal will be firmly established here, and conflict is presented in the form of a major dramatic question (MDQ), such as Will Nessie find the last Loch Ness monster? A subplot is introduced at this stage with its own struggle and resolution. Does that subplot have its own objective, opponent, and resolution?

Struggle: The middle of your story. We want to worry if the protagonist will accomplish her goal, and we don’t want an easy outcome. Keep us wondering who will come out on top. What conflicts do your characters overcome? Does one conflict get resolved only to have higher stakes raised and a new obstacle to overcome? We get valuable insight into a character just by watching how she handles tough situations. A protagonist is only as strong as the antagonist forces her to be.

Turn: This is the point where we worry about the protagonist while the antagonist seems to gain the upper hand. Your main character will find herself at her lowest point, the hardest struggle. And we’ll learn just what she is made of. The higher the tension at this stage and the more we worry about the outcome, the stronger the resolution. Here the main character’s struggle is rewarded, the original dramatic question is answered, and she enjoys the payoff of her efforts.

Outcome: The final letter in PASTO, your denouement. Subplots are resolved, additional character questions answered, protagonist wins (or not), and we learn if the character has changed or grown. And where you want the reader to leave not with a sigh but with an inhale or gasp.


What do we find out about the characters? Are you just telling us? Walking in front of a mirror and describing the look? Let’s sprinkle description throughout. Show us if she is angry. Show us if that remark bothered the protagonist. Did her hand shake as she brushed away her auburn strand of hair? Does she have habits that give us insight into her thoughts and history? How well do you know your darlings? Invite your protagonist and your antagonist over for tea and cookies and ask them a few questions on this worksheet. On separate days though. There could be murder.


Do all your characters sound the same? Can you hide the names and figure out who is saying each line? I always suggest giving a few pages to your beta reader and hiding the names. Then see if she can figure out who said what based on speech pattern, accents, word choice, sentence rhythm, and style.

Examples of dialogue variety:

  1. “I presume her dissatisfaction was directly related to my lack of transparency.”
  2. “I assumed she was mad because I hadn’t been honest.”
  3. “She was probably just pissed off at me for lying.”

What is the underlying theme of your story? You want a pretty big deal here. Murder is good. Revenge. Redemption, Survival, Forgiveness, etc.


There are so many ways you can bring melody to your story. Not just background music such as night sirens, dogs barking, church bells in the distance, and kids’ toys in the game room. You can add musicality to your story through the rhythm of dialogue. Does a character speak with a Cockney accent or a Louisiana drawl? Essentially, the point of melody is to distinguish your character’s voices. I will help you refine each character’s voice so that your reader will be able to differentiate between the characters’ speech patterns. Whether the speaker is rushed and hurried or laid-back, creating a variety of melody adds flow to your story and makes for a much more interesting and engaging read.


How rich are your surroundings? Do we get a sense of spookiness? Calm and cozy? Is your story sprinkled with visions of silver, steel, chrome, and contemporary clean lines? Or do your characters live among rich textures, soft colors and cluttered living spaces? What do we see when we read your story?