Ever read a YA novel and wondered how a teenage character was created? Developmental editors assist authors with developing characters with an empathetic approach. Peter Ginna, in What Editors Do, describes the role of the developmental editor by explaining how developmental editors look at big picture ideas such as pacing, plotting, structure, and believability of characters. Additionally, What Editors Do emphasizes how empathy is important when performing a developmental edit and when working with authors on their stories. When it comes to approaching authors on developing young characters that adolescent readers will look up to, it is incredibly important to approach the author with empathy and respect. Editors play a key role in how teenage characters are developed in the beginning stages of the process. Developmental editors can be a great resource when creating young adult fiction, and to ensure developmental edits are successful, editors must have a great working relationship with authors.
Ginna’s What Editors Do describes empathy as the most crucial part of the editing process. This means that editors must have empathy for characters in fictional stories as well as for the author. When it comes to developing teenage characters in young adult fiction, editors must have empathy for the reader and understand how readers will perceive the characters in the story. What Editors Do emphasizes how effective editors bring certain assets that are important when developing a story. These valuable assets are market knowledge and subject expertise. Editors with marketing knowledge see what is currently selling in the book market. They can suggest edits about young characters based on which young adult novels were successful and what character qualities pulled young readers into the story. Subject expertise is also important because it allows editors to see where the author is coming from. Why did the author write a young character a certain way? How can editors take what writers want to say to adolescents and develop it in a way that will not only sell but be an inspiration for young adults? Developing stories starts with good communication between the editor and author and seeing how both develop characters.
Scott Norton in Developmental Editing talks about the role developmental editors play in a story’s development and emphasizes how developmental editors sometimes coach the author on their stories as well as suggest edits to help authors form a vision for the book. When it comes to developing young characters, developmental editors should be prepared in their market research to assist authors with how the characters will be portrayed to youths. Editors can see what has been successful before and suggest edits that support the author’s vision. It is important for editors to point out how a young character may come across to a youth. Will the teenage character be a positive inspiration for youths? Will their actions teach them a lesson about life? Developmental editing can help authors develop young characters in a unique way that supports the author’s vision but also highlights how young readers will look at the story. It is important for authors to make a plan with the editor and work together on developing the book. Readers look up to characters, and editors play a significant role in assisting with characterization. Young adult fiction can be an inspiration for young audiences, and editing can assist authors with their vision while keeping empathy for young adolescent readers.