DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING 

The Teddy Bear Test

I once heard a story about a university professor who kept a teddy bear on a chair outside his office. Students were encouraged to talk through their problems with the bear before they came in to see him. If they hadn't come up with a solution by the time they'd explained it to the bear then he'd meet with them. In articulating a problem we can quite often find a solution. Developmental editing is a kind of teddy bear test. 

 

You'll sometimes find developmental editing bundled up with manuscript critiques and content editing. I tend to keep them separate because my approach to each is quite different. It's easier to explain with a question: 

 

ARE YOU STUCK?

If the answer is no then you don't need a developmental editor. 

 

Developmental editing is a radical structuring or restructuring of a script in order to make it work. It isn't a script critique, it isn't a grammar or formatting check, it isn't a line by line prettying up. Developmental editing works on the blueprint, the foundations and the building blocks of your work.

Stuck isn't the same as writers' block. Stuck takes the thing you love and tortures you with it. It's pretty near impossible to do an effective developmental edit on your own work, which is why there can be a great deal of 'doing stuff' in being stuck. It usually takes the form of rewriting the same material over and over. Stuck is about going around in circles and getting nowhere. You know your script doesn't work, you just can't figure out a way to fix it. Explaining the problem to a developmental editor begins the process of finding the solution. 

 

I'm not here to drip feed you critique or tell you what a terrible writer you are, I'm here to support you through the process of finding out why you're stuck and getting you unstuck. 

 

Developmental editing is a collaborative, intuitive and organic process designed to uncover the core message of your book and make sure that every part of the story fits with that message. This can include story arcs and character development as well the more subtle aspects such as authorial intention. 

 

Some people like to work closely, some are more like hummingbirds, they take a piece of advice and go away to work on it. I'm led by you. If you want a step by step approach, we do that, if you're happier as a hummingbird, then we do that. 

 

TRY THE TEDDY BEAR TEST

Put your problem into an email. If the process of writing it down hasn't presented the solution then hit send and we can figure it out together. There's no charge for this initial contact, I'll make a few suggestions and if I think you're already doing all the right things, I'll tell you. 

 

 

And remember, most scripts don't need a developmental editor. A good beta reader will pick up on problems and most writers can fix them on their own. Developmental editing is for the tough stuff. Email me if you're not sure and I can point you in the right direction. 

Sometimes all we need is to talk something through. 

Brainstorming calls 

£30 for 30 mins

Is your idea too big or too elusive to pin down? 

Does your backstory read like a cardboard box? 

A thirty minute brainstorm can be all you need to get your script back on track. 

Jac Forsyth, writer, editor, creative 

Unless otherwise stated, all content © Jac Forsyth 2020. All Rights Reserved.