Developmental Editing

I own a developmental editing business and would love to help you with your project. I have over a decade of experience with writing, editing, and critiquing. I’ve helped clients with a variety of manuscripts, including picture books, thrillers, memoirs, children’s chapter books, middle grade, and short stories. The only books I’ll pass on are erotica and highly technical non-fiction. What can a developmental editor help you with?

  1. A sagging middle
  2. A lackluster beginning
  3. An ending that lacks emotional punch
  4. A “messy” storyline
  5. Meandering (or absent) subplots
  6. A series that lacks an overarching plot

When should you use a developmental editor?

  1. Before the writing. You can use a developmental editor during the outlining stages, to get feedback on the overall structure of your novel before you begin.
  2. After the writing. You can use a developmental editor after the book is written, but before you either self-publish or submit to agents and editors. If you’re serious about writing, whatever you show readers should be as tight as you can make it.

Why choose me?

  1. I’m versatile. I started my writing career with kid lit and eventually expanded to adult work. So I’m familiar with the unique demands of both. In many, many ways, kid lit is harder to write because you have to satisfy not only your target audience (children) but also adult gatekeepers (agents, editors, librarians, parents). So you’re writing on two levels. I’m also keenly aware of the needs of adult literature: sharp prose, complex plots and subplots, emotional depth, and subtext.
  2. I’m affordable. My rates are modest, about half of what others charge. But as my client list fills, my rates will rise. Please email me for a quote.
  3. I do good work. Take a look at my recommendations below.

“I cannot say enough about the developmental expertise of Monica. I have had my middle grade novel professionally done, spending over $1600+, and it wasn’t worth half of what Monica has done for me.” – Maria Ashworth

“I want to thank Monica Shaughnessy for being very detailed in her editor’s notes. She gave me wonderful suggestions on how to show instead of tell, up the suspense factor of my book, and showed me how to share the characters’ motives in a way to give more impact to the readers. I’ll always be thankful for her new plot outline she created for me. She was professional and encouraging throughout the entire process while giving an honest insight into how to strengthen my story.” – Yawatta Hosby, author of Twisted Obsession

“Thank you so much for your kind words and VERY helpful comments. You have a lot of good ideas and I will be starting to rework my chapter book series based on your suggestions.” – Bryan Kile

“If you are looking for an extraordinary editor, contact Monica Shaughnessy. She is a wiz at making sense of your story and getting you back on the right track.” – Ellen Leventhal

“I highly recommend Monica’s editorial service. She recently reviewed a Children’s story of mine. I found her editorial feedback to be comprehensive, well-considered and clear. She quickly assimilated the areas that needed attention and provided clear strategies to improve plot, structure and rhyme”. – Fleur Wiig

“Monica helps me understand my manuscript’s weak spots. As a result, I am now making better decisions in regards to character development, story structure and the importance of setting.” – Tina Wissner

If you’re still wondering how I can help, read through a few of my case studies:

Case Study One: While the client’s manuscript was originally written for middle grade, feedback from agents revealed that it “read like YA.” I offered guidance on re-casting characters in different roles, re-imagining the climax scene, and toning down YA elements, shaping it for younger audiences.

Case Study Two: Client’s manuscript lacked a punchy beginning and had several disconnected throughlines (plot lines). I suggested more interiority (getting inside the character’s thoughts and feelings) to heighten the opening scene and noted ways for her to connect all her story elements, bolstering the cause/effect of her ending.

Case Study Three: Client’s outline tried to “accomplish too much” and leaned a little too far outside his genre. I helped him zero in on the the most promising aspects of his story and pare away the distractions, streamlining the plot. This also made it more accessible for its intended audience.

Case Study Four: Client’s picture book manuscript had a misplaced climax and sagging tension. I mapped her story points to the standard 32 pg. layout and made suggestions for shifting the “big moment” to later in the manuscript, thereby trimming a too-long ending. I also noted ways for her to increase tension and make the reader wonder about the outcome.

Still not convinced? If anyone’s read your manuscript (agent, editor, truthful friend, critique partner) and said something similar to one of the following, then considering hiring me:

  1. “It took a little while for your story to get started. I kept wondering when we were going to get to the good stuff.”
  2. “Wait, wait, wait. What happened to Aunt Tilly? She leaves for vacation in chapter 12, and we don’t hear from her until the end. But somehow she causes Maurice and Sheila to divorce? From Cancun?”
  3. “I don’t get it.”
  4. “So she’s an assassin. And a mother. And a member of the PTA. And she’s also worried about her high school reunion and seeing that old flame. But in the end, all she wants is a career in high fashion? I got a little…confused.”
  5. “I thought you said this was for young adults. Why are all the characters hanging out with their parents? In every chapter?”
  6. “Oh. I thought the story ended back here, when the main character killed the bad guy and started a new life. But it kept going for another six chapters.”
  7. “This isn’t a picture book, it’s a story book. No one buys story books anymore.”
  8. “Your writing is strong, you had a great hook, and I felt drawn to your story. But after giving your manuscript a thorough read, I feel I’m not the best person to champion your work.”

Let’s dissect #8, shall we? This is a very, very common response from agents and editors. The first sentence tells me the writer can construct and polish an opening worthy of attracting attention (they’ve studied their craft), and their story idea is compelling (they’ve studied their genre). But the second sentence tells me the storytelling, in all likelihood, has gone awry.

That’s where I come in.

If you want to talk about my fees or my availability, go to my contact form and shoot me a message. I’d love to discuss your project. If you’re still not sure, I’ll do a “first page” assessment of your work absolutely FREE to give you a taste of my editing skills. It all starts with a single email…


5 thoughts on “Developmental Editing

  1. Pingback: Happy That I Found an Affordable, Reliable Editor!!! | yawattahosby

  2. Pingback: The Post NaNoWriMo Freak-Out | Monica Shaughnessy

      • I’m going to be involved in NaNoWriMo November, hoping to get 30,000 words completed. Of course Miss Monica comes to mind when I’m ready to hire an editor to take a first look. After the the holidays I hope to have something ready. Wish me luck!!!!!!! How’s your job? Your daughter? >

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