What is Developmental Editing?

A developmental edit is a big-picture look at your manuscript with the aim of clinching down the best structure for your narrative, as well as pointing out content elements that may need modification.

An edit of this kind can tell you if certain paragraphs or sections of your story should be moved around, expanded, or cut altogether; if your alternating timelines or PoV sections don’t feel cohesive; or if there are segments that seem slower than others. It can tell you if your characterization seems off at any point, if your worldbuilding doesn’t quite work, if your narrative voice is muddled, and if your dialogue reads as stilted. It can help you build tension better or point out plot holes you might’ve missed.

Every writing project benefits from developmental editing, but it is especially important for fiction. Traditionally published books usually go through several rounds of developmental editing as they go through the publishing process, but even if you intend to go down this path, developmental editing might be worth it for you before you start querying, particularly if you can’t quite crack your story and can’t figure out why. If you’re aiming to self-publish, then developmental editing is indispensable.

Developmental editing is a lot more in-depth than beta reading, and it is not the same as line/copyediting or proofreading. While a developmental editor may note line-level errors (such as typos, grammar, and formatting issues) in your manuscript if they happen often, they will usually note them only once, let you know how to correct them, and then let you make those corrections yourself. Revisions after a developmental edit are usually heavy, both at the structural and line level. As an author, you must be prepared to do a lot of hard work to get your manuscript ready for the next developmental round, or the next tye of editing. It is a lot of work and can get very emotional. After all, they call it “killing your darlings” for a reason. But can also be incredibly gratifying and elevate your original idea to its full potential. 

How It Works

You send me your manuscript as a MS Word doc, and I read through it with a critical eye, making notes on the file as I go. Once I’ve read it, I will write a feedback report (in PDF format, usually between 10-25 pages) detailing issues with your work’s readability, structure, main concept/hook, worldbuilding, overall plot and subplots, characters, dialogue, and other important aspects of your narrative. The report will include a chapter-by-chapter breakdown and suggestions for how to correct each of the issues raised. It will also make recommendations on whether further work is needed on your manuscript, be it in terms of further editing or science review. I will also send back your manuscript with my comments, which will include only minimal suggestions (teaching examples that you can then apply throughout the rest of the document on your own time) and do not involve direct editing at the line level.

The cost of a developmental edit will depend on the length of your manuscript. It is not necessary for your manuscript to have been alpha/beta read or edited before you submit it for a dev edit, but if it’s difficult to read or understand, I might suggest that you clean it up or have it alpha/beta read by someone else before embarking on a developmental edit. I can refer you to another freelance editor if needed.


A developmental edit will cost you $0.015 USD (1.5 cents) per word, or a base fee of $150 USD if it’s under 10,000 words. For manuscripts over 10,000 words, a $150 USD non-refundable deposit will be charged upon receipt, and the rest upon completion.

I will answer any questions and clarify any doubts within reason via email for no extra fee; if you need more hands-on help, I might instead suggest a second round of developmental editing.

Work Termination, Returns, and Refunds

Freaking Narnia does not sell or offer material goods; only editorial and consulting services are provided. As such, we do not conduct any business through physical mail. All exchange of data, including manuscripts and any documents generated as a product of science consulting, proofreading, and beta reading, is done electronically, in most cases via email. As such, Freaking Narnia does not offer returns of material goods of any kind, including items physically mailed to us.

Completion dates and deadlines for all projects will be agreed upon with the client before the start of work, also via email. For any email inquiries, we will try our hardest to get back to you within 24 hours, but please afford a maximum of 72 hours for a response. If you have not heard back from us in over 72 hours, feel free to reach out again.

Any payments received are non-refundable. A project may be terminated at any time, and payment will only be required for work already completed up to the date of termination. All work completed prior to termination of service must be paid at the agreed-upon rate. Any completed work shall be delivered upon payment. Deposits are non-refundable.