Developmental editing builds and shapes a manuscript from an initial concept by adding content regardless of the stage of the project. Developmental editing may begin before you start to write or can be utilized later for organization and content building. When starting a new project, developmental editing helps organize your ideas and writing. Once an initial draft is in place, this level of editing considers the presentation of the material and may involve reorganizing or reworking copy. Areas needing more research can be targeted at this time.
During the developmental editing process, which occurs prior to copyediting, the editor assesses the occurrence of repetition throughout the manuscript and identifies areas needing to be deleted or rewritten if they missed the mark for your intention. Another step is to evaluate how well the content—whether a story or information—is internally connected. For example, experiences are most interesting to the reader when they are considered and related, and not simply reported or journalized as a chain of events. The editor will help “connect the dots.”
Some editors, as well as Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), consider developmental editing to be the most radical level of editing because it involves building content. The results of a developmental edit may be provided as a detailed report, usually around ten pages long, rather than a marked-up manuscript.