Working through Developmental Feedback
Developmental editing takes many forms. If you’re still in the planning stage, for example, you and your editor might be going back and forth on plot lines and character arcs.
But if you delivered a completed manuscript to your editor, odds are that you’ve received feedback in two different forms: comments in the margin of the manuscript and an editorial letter.
These two methods of feedback are both important.
Comments in the margin: When I (the editor) read your book, I want to capture my thoughts as I go, so I write questions and suggestions in the margin. These are valuable primarily for smaller issues or to remind myself of larger issues I want to address. It also puts the feedback right where you need to see it while you’re revising.
Editorial letter: However, some things are communicated more effectively in a letter. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Praise for things you’re doing well overall
- Suggestions for the overall plot or character development
- Workshop-type issues, like “show, don’t tell” and action beats vs. dialogue tags
Some people get overwhelmed with editorial feedback and have a hard time figuring out where to start. Here is how I would do it, but you can certainly do whatever works for you (for simplicity, I’ve worded this as though I’m your editor—which I hope is true!):
1. Read through the letter. Any time you have an opinion, thought, question or idea related to something I suggested, leave a comment in the margin.
2. Read through the manuscript comments. When you want to respond to one of my comments, click the “reply” button at the bottom of the comment box. That way, your replies are right there with the original comment.
3. Walk away from it for a day or two to let everything percolate.
4. Skim through everything again and see if anything new comes to mind.
5. List any questions you have and send them to me with the documents that now include your comments/replies. That way, I can answer your questions and give you additional feedback on your ideas. We can also have a live chat if you think that would be helpful.
6. If you need help starting with the revisions, I can help you make a revision calendar and keep you accountable for meeting revision deadlines. I can also provide you with some writing prompts to get you started on the most important new material.
If you have more questions about working with editorial feedback, please leave a comment below! If you need help working with tracked changes (for line editing, copyediting, or proofreading), then check out my Intro to Tracked Changes.
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