Developmental editing is a tricky one to pin down in the curriculum. You could argue that anything that applies to general editing also applies to developmental editing, so all the skills are equally applicable. There are not many specific resources to support learning in this area, although there are some specific courses.
In the table I have picked out some of the competencies, skills and attitudes that you should be able to evidence under each of the criteria. I’ve listed some suggested supporting resources below the table.
|Editorial competency, professional skills and attitudes
|2.2.3 Voice and tone
|• Understands reading level, register (degree of formality) and use of terminology appropriate to the type of publication and audience
|2.3.1 Judgement of sense
|• Has general knowledge appropriate to the genre and subject area they are working with
• Understands judgement of sense: does content appear correct and appropriate for context? If doubtful: flag, query or change? Is change justified and appropriate?
• Understands vocabulary and idioms (corrects any easily confused words; if not the right word, can supply a suitable replacement)
• Can explain/justify changes
|2.3.2 Judgement of voice
|• Understands and respects author’s voice but can assess whether suited to the content and the target/likely audience, appropriateness for context
• Can make changes in keeping with context
|2.3.3 Clarity in writing
|• Understands the need to avoid ambiguity
• Understands appropriate use of language and tone
• Understands conciseness (elimination of redundancy/repetition)
• If space is limited or layout is fixed, is aware of the need to fit any change into the available space without causing a new problem
• Can reword appropriately to simplify, clarify or shorten text
• Can identify whether material is well expressed and flows logically, with the ideas and wording easy to follow
|2.3.4 Author and client queries
|• Understands judgement required for author queries (when, what and how) and how many queries are appropriate
• Can ask relevant client queries (remit, style, problems), and to judge how many, when and how to ask
• Can formulate clear, concise, useful questions
• Understands when to alert client to problems of content
• Can raise appropriate queries and deal with redundancy, omission, errors and inconsistencies, all within the limits of schedule and budget
|2.4.9 Project style sheets
|• Can create a project style sheet
• Is aware of what can be expected, what is usually essential, what could be included in a project style sheet
|2.4.10 Managing an editorial project
|• Understands the possible extent and limits of an editorial project manager’s remit
• Understands scheduling and planning a project
• Can adapt to changes in schedule or resources
• Understands the need to work within a budget
• Understands the need for good communication and briefing with all parties in a project
• Can take on aspects of the editorial project manager’s role when necessary
|3.1.2 Assessment of the manuscript and brief
|• Has ability to assess a manuscript and agree a brief
|3.1.3 Structural editing
|• Understands the principles of structural editing: detailed analysis of the text, advising the author of any structural or major changes required
• Can identify and analyse themes and plot types; author’s voice and style; different points of view; dialogue; consistency of plot, timeline and setting, character, language
Resources to support your learning and CPD
When it comes to fiction, developmental editing is possibly served by more resources, and you can find courses and literature to support your learning.
Sophie Playle has written a CIEP guide, Developmental Editing for Fiction, which is a good place to start.
If you work in non-fiction, the equivalent CIEP guide, written by Claire Beveridge, is Developmental Editing for Non-Fiction.
Both guides give a good list of further resources at the end, so I won’t repeat them here.
Sophie Playle offers training courses in this area for fiction editors:
- Developmental Editing: Fiction Theory
- Developmental Editing in Practice
She has also recorded a useful webinar: Guiding Principles for Developmental Fiction Editing.
The blog post What Is Developmental Editing? The Writer’s Guide to Developmental Editing by Alice Sudlow is aimed at authors but is also a neat summary of the process for editors.
I found an interesting summary from Scott Norton, in his book published in 2009: Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers, published by the University of Chicago Press. He gives a concise set of 12 ‘rules’ for developmental editors, starting with ‘be realistic’. The book is available from all the usual sources.
Of course, the CIEP online courses will help you too. You might try:
Jane has worked with books for all her working life (which is rather more years than she cares to admit), having started life as a librarian. She started a freelance editing business while at home with her two children, which she maintained for 15 years before going back into full-time employment as head of publishing for a medical Royal College.
Now retired, she has resurrected her editorial business, but has less time for work these days as she spends much time with her four grandchildren and in her garden.
The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.
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Photo credits: Sticky notes and coloured pens by Frans van Heerden on Pexels.
Posted by Sue McLoughlin, blog assistant.
The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.