Why you need a developmental editor!

I never thought I needed one. But now I have used one, I wish I’d got one sooner.

There are lots of different types of editors and each type has a purpose. When I first read the definition of a developmental editor, I dismissed them.

What a Developmental Editor does:

Always check what the editor does before paying them but usually a developmental edit includes:

  • Refine your ideas
  • Improve narrative
  • Fix plot holes and character arcs
  • How to tell your story
  • Chapter length and order
  • What to delete/expand

Why I thought I didn’t need one:

I have so many story ideas that creating a story has never been an issue. And, I enjoy solving plot holes so why’d I want to pay someone to do that for me.

I was sure I could figure out how to tell my story my way and what was needed and when. I was worried an editor would lose my voice and it wouldn’t be the story I wanted to tell.

But, I was wrong:

A good editor works with an author to support them in enhancing their story. They give you the critique you’ve always needed.

What I got:

I hired Avery McDougal after meeting author J D Groom and seeing what she had down for her with Sorceress of Truth.

Avery edited my manuscript with inline comments. She didn’t just point out what needed fixing, she also told me where I’d got it right. Her feedback helped me grow as an author, learning by studying my own writing, guided by her feedback.

She, also provided a chapter report. This was an overview of the chapter and made me aware of any issues like grammar switches.

She provided a character analysis. These gave insight into how my characters were seen and their arcs. She linked this to character arc types which helped me learn about this too.

Avery also pointed out my bad habits. Once she pointed them out I became aware and able to correct them. For example, the overuse of a particular word.

Finally, Avery included helpful guides to help me in areas she identified that I struggle.

Editors are unique

All editors are unique. Some editors might not provide the support material Avery sent me. Before parting with your money, find out exactly what the service includes. Ask other authors for recommendations.

Check out the editors listed in the World Indie Warriors brochure.

The reasons I chose Avery were:

  • I liked what she’d done for Jodie. I still checked what I’d get to make sure I was choosing the right service for my needs.
  • Avery does writing workshops for teens. My novel is YA fiction. Knowing she has current experience with my intended audience was a bonus. And, it certainly showed in her feedback.
  • I got quotes and the cost was something I was able to afford.
  • Avery is approachable and easy to talk to. She made herself available post edits should I have any questions about her feedback.

Working with Avery was an amazing experience. She supported me to make necessary changes to improve my novel. But, she didn’t just develop my novel, she developed me as an author.

Ocean Heart is stronger thanks to her feedback, and I’m a more confident writer.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.


If you enjoyed this, you will like:

12 tips for self editing

Author Q and A – Ally Aldridge

Writing Progress: May

My Books

Writers and YouTube Playlists — Ally Aldridge

Novel Playlist.png

In the same way a song can make you think of a person, place or time, it can also inspire writers to develop chapters. Music can bring chapters, characters and moments to life. It is a great aid whilst developing your story.

The connection writers develop for their creations is personal, like a parent to their child.  This is why sometimes criticism (no matter how constructive) can hurt. But, this post isn’t about that.  This post is about the connection writers make with music.

Writing a novel is a long process. You develop a relationship with the characters, their environment and experience their highs and lows.  I struggle with writing horror because I frighten myself. Then I can’t sleep!


In the same way a song can make you think of a person, place or time, it can also inspire writers to develop them.  Music can destroy writers block and bring to life chapters, characters, places and moments.

Currently, the song that is really inspiring me to write a horror – if I can get over my fear of my own mind – is Ruelle’s “Monsters”.

I haven’t given up on this idea. Originally the idea was for the MC to be haunted by a demon (a mix of the urban legend of Slender Man, the manga character Orichimaru from Naruto and the Goblin King from Labyrinth). Although I am still struggling to get the outline right, I am now swaying towards this novel being part of my shifter series.

My story’s playlist

As I edited Drift, now Jewel of the Sea, for the umpteenth time, I created a playlist for the chapters.  This playlist was added to Wattpad using YouTube links as I worked on improving the story.   Some songs have been there since the start whereas others got added as the story developed.

Click here to listen to the playlist on YouTube:

  1. Taylor Swift – Everything Has Changed ft. Ed Sheeran
  2. Leona Lewis – Run
  3. Mazzy Star – Fade Into You
  4. Lykke Li – Little Bi
  5. Hunter Hayes – Invisible
  6. Christina Aguilera – Beautiful
  7. Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
  8. Birdy – Wings
  9. Coldplay – Yellow
  10. All Saints – Pure Shores
  11. Angel Olsen – Windows
  12. Wilco – Kamera
  13. Seafret – Skimming Stones
  14. Lauren Aquilina – Ocean <related chapter now cut>
  15. Dorothy – Gun In My Hand
  16. Katy Perry – Rise
  17. Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed
  18. Ed Sheeran – Give Me Love
  19. John Legend – All Of Me
  20. Safety Suit – Anywhere But Here
  21. Demi Lovato – Stone Cold
  22. The Paper Kites – Bloom
  23. The Ligthouse and the Whalers – I want to Feel Alive
  24. Amer Run – I Found
  25. Evanescence – Bring me to life
  26. Ed Sheeran – Thinking Our Loud

Sometimes I hear songs and they inspire me to write (see 7, 8, 14 and 15). They draw up pictures and feelings in my mind and drive my imagination wild.


Other songs, I hear after I’ve written the story, usually whilst editing.  They remind me of the vision I had and help me focus on what I need the chapter to deliver (see 12, 13, 20, 22 and 24).

I’m not a fan of editing.  I spend way too much time being critical of my writing and ripping it apart.  I don’t enjoy the process and if I could afford to pay someone to do it for me, I would!  Having a playlist does make it a little more enjoyable and you can create one of all your favourite songs to keep you motivated.


When I first started writing Drift,  “Starry Eyed” by Ellie Goulding was playing on the radio and resonated with the way the story felt to me.

Once I finished editing Drift, I found that the song that resonated with the overall feeling of the story had changed.  The song is now “I Want To Feel Alive” by The Lighthouse and the Whaler.

Perhaps it’s a result of how the story has evolved or how my music tastes have changed over the years.  The bottom line is, music fuels my imagination.  It certainly makes editing more enjoyable.

Please share your playlists with me

If you have a writing playlist, please share it with me.  I would love to listen to and to know why those songs made your playlist.

NB Previously posted: Writers and YouTube Playlists — Ally Aldridge

If you enjoyed this, check out:

Where to find great story ideas…

Day 23 – Avicii

How I edited my novel – 12 tips for self editing

Do you keep notebooks of story ideas?

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Book Review: Save the Cat – Writes a Novel

Author:  Jessica Brody

This book came highly recommended on Instagram and when Bethany Atazadeh and Brittany Wang did their #STCExperiement – YouTube videos of them using the book to outline a novel – I decided I had to get it so I could join in.  

What is the book about?

The book is based on books by Blake Snyder who writes guides for scriptwriters.  Jessica identified that the best novels use the same structure.  In this guide to writing she adapts the ‘Save the Cat’ beats for novel writing.  She also gives plenty of examples form best sellers – even if you haven’t read them you will know their names.  

How it works?

This guide splits the novel into four Acts.  Each act is broken down into beats.  The Beats have names and descriptions to prompt you what needs to be happening in your novel.  

Once you read the book you will start noticing the beats in films you watch.  It is a real eye opener. 

How I used it?

Editing (Jewel of the Sea)

When the book arrived I had just decided that Jewel of the Sea needed yet another edit!  I wanted to re-write the ending, however, that’s not as easy as just jumping to the end and writing it.   There are little details that need to be woven in throughout the novel.

After reading STC, I created a spreadsheet based on my word count and used the percentages to see where certain beats should be happening.  It turned out I had a lot of the beats but in some places my pacing was off.  I then used STC to help with that.  

Plotting Act 1 (Scarlet Dresses)

For Camp NaNo April, I used STC to draft out the first Act for a new novel called Scarlet Dresses.  During the challenge I made a really good start on this novel.

My only hold up was that I felt my characters were a bit flat as I had not spent long enough developing them.  I feel the story had got potential so I plan to return to this project and complete it… one day.  

Plotting and editing (Diamond in the Sky)

This month, I decided to do Camp NaNo July.  Jewel of the Sea is out with Beta Readers and I need to start thinking about writing the next novel in my shifter series.  Now, Diamond in the Sky has been started but never finished.  Now I am more familiar with STC, I decided to use it for both editing and plotting.  

To start with I need to edit what I already have.  I have used STC to plot the first Act and created my spreadsheet to check the pacing is right.  There are a few instances where it is slightly off and I have noted this on my spreadsheet to check later.  First, I want to get the novel written.

The next step will be to use STC to plot the rest of the novel – the unwritten chapters.  I will use STC to check that when I create the different beats that I am getting the pacing right.  

Final thoughts…

This book has changed the way I write.  I have always been a pantser and found editing incredibly hard.  Writing without a plan often can take you off on wayward paths that are not necessary or haven’t been preempted to create the right impact.  This results in a lot of editing – something I hate. 
With STC, I feel have a guide keeping me on track and I can check my pacing is working.  Previously, my outline was incredibly brief and left a lot of gaps for me to fill but having a plot keeps me on track and I don’t get stuck.  
If you need help plotting and with pacing, then I highly recommend this book.  Now, it is always close to hand and I wouldn’t write a novel without it.  I love it.  
Do you have any writer resources that you swear by?

If you like this, you may enjoy:

How I edited my novel – 12 tips for self editing

Where to find great story ideas…

Book Review: Who runs the world by Virginia Bergolt

Book Review: Lion’s Share

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