Much of the work I do with faculty and recent PhDs is developmental in nature. That means that I’m not tweaking their grammar or even improving their diction on the sentence level. I’m helping authors push their research so that it achieves more for them.
Developmental editing produces scholarship that is argumentatively sound. The manuscripts I’ve developed say more—and more effectively—than they were able to say otherwise.
All of that is very nice, and better scholarship may indeed be an end in itself. But that’s not all developmental editing accomplishes. It’s not even the most important outcome.
Once a project—as a nascent idea, a proposal sketch, or a complete manuscript—is developmentally edited, it is poised to go places.
It’s positioned to be accepted by the right academic journal. It’s ripe for an acquisitions editor to pick for his university press’s catalog.
A developmentally edited research project has legs. Publishing outlets and funding agencies take a look and know exactly what to do with it. It’s legible to the audiences that matter for its success.
Ultimately, having those kinds of projects in your portfolio gives your career momentum. Whether you consider yourself a lifelong professor, independent scholar, or writer of another sort, pushing your ideas will push you toward your professional goals, too.
Here’s what I’m helping scholars do when we work together developmentally:
- Reframe so that the research is addressing a salient, timely concern or question.
- Reorganize so that the best ideas aren’t buried under scholarly apparatus.
- Reprioritize so that the reader’s experience—not a chronological recounting of the background research process—is paramount.
- Rejuvenate the whole project by finding and dealing with the clunky components weighing everything down.
- Push past the obvious, the tired, the inconsequential.
Over in the services section of this site, I’ve written a little more about what Tweed developmental editing looks like, especially in the context of an early-career book. I’ve also worked with scholars to develop their journal articles and contributions to edited volumes.
Pushing ideas developmentally is my favorite kind of work, and it gets results. Because of our partnerships, my clients have secured book contracts and had their articles accepted by top journals.
Working with me on a developmental level does require some forethought. It’s not a last-minute quick fix for your writing.
So if you have a project that isn’t as animated as it needs to be, or isn’t getting the traction you know it deserves, start a conversation with me soon. A little dialogue will help you discern whether developmental editing is the right move for you at this time.
Keep your mind sharp, your pen ready, and your editor on speed dial!