Welcome to this the third part of Editing 101 (previous lessons here and here). The developmental edit is super important. This type of edit looks at your story, chapter by chapter, and gives feedback on what’s working and what’s not. All manuscripts can benefit from a developmental edit (just saying). But if you can’t afford to get one done, there are things you can do yourself.
Step 1: Write up your goal, motivation and conflict for each character. Go through each chapter in your ms. With the protagonist in mind, answer the following questions: Has their goal been thwarted? Is the conflict increasing? Are their motivations clear? Repeat process for your love interest. This is the biggest thing you can do. Will it take time? Of course, yes. But this is where stories sag and buckle. It’s worth making sure that your story has addressed these issues in each and every chapter, otherwise a form rejection will be coming your way (sorry about that, it always sucks, but knowing why helps).
Step 2: Have a look at your scenes. Does each scene have a purpose i.e. does it move the plot along in some way? If not, delete. Is it too long? Cut it down. Is it too short? Increase. This will help to improve your pacing.
Step 3: Have a look at your dialogue. Does each character sound the same? Have you used the same phrasing for each? Rework, revise.
Step 4: Have a look at your characters. Do they develop over the course of the story? If not, go back and have them make different choices that are in line with believable growth.
Step 5: Check that your tone matches the story. A serious novel will not be enriched with over-the-top characters who would be better suited to a comedic novel. Check with a critical eye that you don’t have a Disney character in an Austen novel.
Suddenly, copy editing seems so much easier. Hang in there! You got this!
A little something to get you started on your writing journey:
Do you want to write a romance novel?
Everyone wants a HAPPILY EVER AFTER (HEA).