Now you’ve completed your draft manuscript, before you embark on a line and copy-edit you want to be sure that the big-picture elements work successfully. Is your plot plausible and compelling? Are your characters believable? Does your story drag at times and zip by too fast at others? Will your readers feel satisfied by the ending?

Developmental editing, also known as structural or substantive editing, addresses the big-picture storytelling issues such as structure, theme, audience and genre expectations, plot, characterisation, narrative distance, point of view, tension, pace and narrative shape, opening and closing chapters, timelines and settings, scene and summary, dialogue, voice and tone, language and style.

I offer two different services: a full developmental edit and a manuscript critique. The right choice for you depends on what stage you’re at as a writer, how confident you feel about your manuscript and, of course, your budget.

First of all, I’ll send you a questionnaire which will provide you with the opportunity to tell me about your writing background, what your intentions are and any particular concerns you may have, enabling me to best focus my feedback. At this stage, I’m aware that the manuscript is a work in progress, so while you might be nervous about sharing it with an editor, please don’t worry that it isn’t perfect – that’s why you’re considering developmental help.

‘I chose Nicky to do a developmental edit of my manuscript on the basis of her qualifications and clear website. As this is my first novel, I was unsure about what to expect. I shouldn’t have been worried. Nicky went the extra mile to thoroughly read my nearly 100K novel. She picked apart my work, breaking it down to see how the elements worked, and then brought them back together to assess the whole. The process and outcome were extremely informative: she had spot-on observations and comments, summarised themes and storylines so clearly, and more than that, she suggested something central about the story which had not occurred to me. This was an investment I’m glad I made and I would engage Nicky’s services again without hesitation.’

Collette Ridley Fard, author, Running Back

Full developmental edit

A full developmental edit is likely to benefit newer writers who are struggling to put writing theory into practice or writers working on a particularly difficult manuscript. Perhaps you’ve written yourself into a corner and you can’t see how to fix it? Or you’ve reached a point where you can no longer tell if the various elements of your story are working? A developmental edit can help you to deconstruct and rebuild your novel.

As well as writing an in-depth editorial report summarising how the manuscript can be improved, I’ll also make notes and comments throughout the manuscript and highlight specific instances where storytelling technique can be strengthened.

The first round of a full developmental edit involves at least three passes of the manuscript and will take around six weeks to complete

What's included

  • a detailed editorial report of 12–18 pages
  • constructive suggestions on how to improve various elements of your novel
  • detailed comments and specific suggestions throughout the manuscript (using Word Track Changes)
  • a second round* following your revisions
  • recommended resources such as articles, books or website links tailored to your individual needs
  • up to sixty minutes** of follow-up discussion (after which an hourly rate of 35€ applies)

* Additional rounds will require a further fee to be negotiated. ** Within thirty days.

‘My second novel, Rodanthe’s Gift, is historical fiction based in Greece during Ottoman oppression. As a sequel to Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa, it develops three characters I came to know and love, despite their flaws.

After working on the new story for over two years, self-doubt held me back from completion. Nicky used a questionnaire to understand my aims and concerns and then provided clear and logical analysis to underpin her constructive feedback with welcome suggestions for reworking. Thanks to Nicky’s objective appraisal I gained confidence and motivation to continue.

Yvonne Payne, author, Rodanthe’s Gift

Manuscript critique

If you’re not sure that you need a full developmental edit, or your budget won’t stretch to it, then a manuscript critique, which is a comprehensive editorial report, is a more economical way of getting constructive feedback on your novel before you embark on further editing. I’ll write you an unbiased and honest assessment of your manuscript which will offer constructive feedback on your book’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide some suggestions for development and improvement. I’ll also address any specific concerns you may have.

A manuscript critique generally takes around three weeks to complete.

What's included

  • a detailed report of 8–15 pages
  • constructive suggestions on how to improve various storytelling elements of your novel
  • recommended resources such as articles, books or website links tailored to your individual needs
  • up to sixty minutes* of follow-up discussion (after which an hourly rate of 35€ applies)

If you decide to upgrade to a full developmental edit, the cost of the report will be deducted from the overall fee.

*Within thirty days of receipt of the report.


Developmental editing prices start at 20€* per 1,000 words depending on length, complexity and turnaround time.

A manuscript critique costs 399€* for up to 60,000 words, 499€* for 60–90,000 words and 599€* for 90–120,000 words.

Manuscript critiques: a deposit of 50% is required upon booking and the balance is due on completion, unless otherwise agreed.

Developmental editing: a deposit of 50% is required upon booking, with 25% due on completion of the first round and the remaining 25% due on completion of the second round, unless otherwise agreed.

Additional consultancy will be charged at a minimum hourly rate of 35€*.

* All fees are in euros and exclude IVA (Spanish VAT) at 21%. I’m a Spanish resident and registered as autónomo. Payment is accepted via debit or credit card, or bank transfer (via your bank or TransferWise, CurrencyFair etc) to my Spanish bank account.