The Builder provides traditional developmental editing services with the efficiency and affordability associated with the Book Puma Services brand. We are about giving authors options to develop at their pace and price point.
Developmental editing is the first step for most editing services. In this phase, an editor reads a fiction or narrative nonfiction (memoir and true crime) manuscript for the big-picture issues. These include, but are not limited to: Character development, conflict, tension, pacing, and resolution.
When addressing a book’s characters, a developmental editor looks for several key elements. Perhaps most importantly, will readers connect with the main character? This does not mean the protagonist of a novel or the writer of the memoir/true crime book must be a good person. In fact, one of the best-selling books of the last 20 years, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, has two main characters — Nick Dunne and Amy Dunne — who are not what many would consider moral. But readers nonetheless found themselves drawn to the lying, presumably murderous husband, and the unlikeable female character that was Amazing Amy.
Regarding character, a developmental editor will also look for how a character changes from the beginning of the novel to the end, or the character arc. With a few notable exceptions — such as Jack Reacher in the popular Lee Child series — characters will experience this change when they get past the story’s main conflict.
Conflict, therefore, is another important area a developmental editor will eye while reading a manuscript. Though some literary fiction does not have much in the way of conflict, commercial and genre fiction stories use conflict to engage readers. Consumers of most novels are looking for a story that will see the main character or characters facing a major obstacle — in the form of a villain or set of overwhelming circumstances — that is preventing them from attaining a goal.
A character’s struggle to resolve their conflict will create tension, another key aspect a developmental editor addresses during this phase. The editor must ensure the tension remains high enough to pull a reader through to the end of a story. The goal for a developmental editor is to tell an author when they have let that tension slack, which will lead to slow pacing and could make the reader put down their book and not pick it back up.
But if the tension remains high and the pacing is quick enough to keep readers engaged, they will reach the book’s resolution. This is where authors can lose a reader for life, so a developmental editor will work to make sure a book’s ending seems surprising yet inevitable based on previous events. Ernest Hemingway famously wrote 40 different endings to his novel A Farewell to Arms before settling on the incredible final scene that made it to print.
After a developmental editor has worked with an author to perfect these and other elements, they give it over to the next three phases of the professional editing and proofreading process: line editing, copy editing, and proofreading — all of which can be found via the Book Puma Services platform.