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  • Writer's pictureNicole Meier

What I Look for in a Developmental Edit



Story structure is necessary because without a clear and engaging roadmap for your reader to follow, you run the risk of your story falling flat.⁠ ⁠As a writer, I know how difficult it can be to weave in each of these elements seamlessly. Especially in the first few drafts! ⁠As a certified book coach and developmental editor for fiction writers, I also know that without thoughtful attention the structure can easily fall apart. ⁠ ⁠


If you're looking to strengthen your story, I recommend using these points as a kind of checklist:


A Good Opening Scene - Is there a strong setting, interesting character, & introduction of a question the reader wants answered?


An Engaging Character - Does the protagonist have a clear voice, complete with interiority?


Introduction of Conflict - Is a protagonist's "big want" revealed? Are the obstacles & stakes clear?


Narrative Drive - Does each scene have a point? Is there a cause-and-effect trajectory that moves the plot forward?


A Clear Timeline - Does the story timeline jump around or flow naturally?


A Balance of Elements - Are things such as backstory, dialogue, and exposition woven throughout (as opposed to given all at once)?


An Arc of Change - Does your protagonist overcome obstacles, learn lessons, and evolve over time?


A first draft of a novel (or the third!) doesn't need to be perfect. But attention to these elements can help strengthen your manuscript & make your story shine.

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