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383862: Developmental Editing

  • Winter 2022
  • Section 1
  • 3 Credits
  • 02/24/2022 to 02/27/2022
  • Modified 10/29/2021


To be successful, an editor must draw from a broad base of skills, consider the entire publishing process, and be capable of developmentally editing a book into its best version. Developmental editing requires big picture thinking coupled with the ability to focus on critical areas that reflect on the entire text. Students learn how to choose a manuscript, developmentally edit the text, craft an editorial letter, and give feedback directly to the author in a video interview with the class.


  • Learn the editing process by which a manuscript is accepted and then is sent to print.
  • Learn what developmental editing includes (significant structuring or restructuring), and does not (copy editing and stylistic intervention), and learn how to identify and address weaknesses in a manuscript due to slack or holes in plot, pacing, character development.
  • Learn the adjacent skills necessary for developmental editing, such as how current publishing trends affect the editorial process, how to approach an author with necessary and suggested edits, how to review those edits, when to stop editing, and when to cancel a book.
  • How to construct an editorial letter and when to write one or have a verbal conversation while considering tone and content in relation to a potentially sensitive author.
  • Understand and remember the needs of production, marketing, and media outreach departments throughout the acquisitions and editing process in order to choose appropriate work and then guide a book toward marketable success.


Participants will:

  • Be capable of explaining the entire process of a book’s editorial process, from raw draft to a final copy ready for print.
  • Write an editorial letter that successfully engages in constructive criticism to encourage the author while improving the work.
  • Effectively developmentally edit a manuscript as a whole as well as line edit (and to know which is appropriate).


Required Texts

Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers

  • Author: Scott Norton
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Edition: Print or Digital
  • ISBN: 9780226595153
  • Optional
  • Availability: Google Books and Campus Bookstore
  • Price: Kindle $28.00, Print $28.00 (retail price)

Recommended Texts

The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

  • Author: Jonathan Gottschall
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • Edition: Print or Digital
  • ISBN: 9780544002340
  • Optional
  • Availability: Digital and Campus Bookstore
  • Price: Kindle $2.99, Print $15.99

The Publishing Business: A Guide to Starting Out and Getting On

  • Author: Kelvin Smith and Melanie Ramdarshan Bold
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • Edition: Print (1st or 2nd) or Digital
  • ISBN: 9781474249515
  • Optional
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore
  • Price: $37.95

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

  • Author: Stephen King
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Edition: Print or Digital
  • ISBN: 9781439156810
  • Optional
  • Availability: Digital and Campus Bookstore
  • Price: Kindle $12.99, Print $17

The Chicago Manual of Style (any edition)

  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Edition: Print
  • ISBN: 978-0226287058
  • Optional
  • Availability: Campus Bookstore
  • Price: $70



Types of evaluations and related weights
Type Weight Topic Notes
Assignment 5% Short Piece Developmental Editing
Assignment 5% Short Piece Editorial Letter
Project 50% Manuscript Developmental Editing
Assignment 20% Manuscript Editorial Letter
Participation 20% Discussion and Participation


Resulting grade and related performance levels
Grade Range Notes
A+ 97-100
A 93-96
A- 90-92
B+ 87-89
B 83-86
B- 80-82
C+ 77-79
C 73-76
C- 70-72
F 69 and below

Course Policies


Grades, when desired, will be based on completion of Reports, Assignments, Book Plans, Discussion Posts, and Discussion Response Posts. Extra credit may be granted upon request by attending additional literary events and submitting literary event reports. Students must submit online through Canvas or through instructor email if Canvas is not available.

Late work is subject to pre-approval if submitted before the last day of instruction. All work may be re-submitted to increase grade. Assignments will become available on the first day of the week of instruction.

The Writers’ Workshop

Instruction in the Writers’ Program follows the guidelines established by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) guidelines for the teaching of creative writing, which include a “challenging writers’ workshop” as a hallmark. They define this as

…a seminar in which students critique one another’s work under the mentorship of an accomplished writer-teacher. The workshop is writing intensive, offering each student multiple opportunities for submission and revision of creative work. (AWP)

This method of instruction is considered the gold standard for developing writers at all levels of expertise, and workshopping is a key learning tool in nearly every course offered by the Writers’ Program. Workshopping teaches you to read and respond to written work from a variety of perspectives, and hearing critique of your own writing will help you understand how successfully your work achieves your goals. Every student is expected to participate fully in workshopping activities as defined by and guided by Writers’ Program instructors.

Scope of Work for Instructors

Each Writers’ Program instructor has signed an agreement to teach the curriculum in their course, following a syllabus of their own design with approval by the Writers’ Program director. Instructors are never obligated to read, review, critique, respond to, or otherwise address student work that has not been developed for their course or in response to specific assignments in their course. Individualized instruction like this falls into the category of a consultation, which is a separate service your instructor can provide through special arrangement with the Writers’ Program.

Underage Students

As UCLA's principal provider of continuing education, the majority of UCLA Extension courses are designed for the post-baccalaureate professional-level student. Enrollment is therefore normally reserved for adult students 18 years of age and older. The Writers’ Program may consent to enroll younger students based on special academic competence and approval of the instructor. Minors who enroll in a Writers’ Program course without first receiving permission from both the department and the instructor are subject to withdrawal. To request approval, please contact the Writers’ Program at 310-825-9415.

Inclusive Teaching Statement

As a 10+ year member of the publishing industry, I can share lived experiences and advice on how to get published as well as how to publish. During discussions, I encourage participants to work with and learn from each other as a team, serving as a moderator only as necessary to direct conversation from anecdotal to focused or to step in more firmly if someone’s lived experiences or individual perspectives are being dismissed or disrespected. My lesson plans are meant to be a framework for a conversation so that the content adapts to the needs and goals of each individual. I encourage students to lean into their strengths while helping them to address any skills they would like to develop and encourage career development through a professional evaluation during the course.

As a queer instructor, public speaker, editor, and book industry professional, I strive to improve industry standards through transparency and equity of accessibility, acknowledging the invisible labors in publishing and addressing the inequities of compensation and representation throughout the literary arts. Throughout my courses, I focus on the necessity of kindness and respect in the publishing industry, the need for diversity and authentic representation of experiences and perspectives, equitable and mutually beneficial business practices, and on effective methods for constructive feedback such as the “sandwich method” (positive-critical-positive).

I encourage students to reach out to me directly on Canvas or by email to express any concerns they may have with anything regarding the course, including the course material, my feedback, or a fellow student’s comments. I especially encourage and welcome feedback concerning any material in the course that is unclear and could benefit from further explanation. Any answer that benefits one of us  benefits us all through affirmation or fresh understanding.

If for any reason you do not feel comfortable discussing the issue directly with me, please contact the UCLA EX Student Affairs Office, Carrie Troung.

Institutional Policies

Student Conduct

Students are subject to disciplinary action for several types of misconduct or attempted misconduct, including but not limited to academic dishonesty, such as cheating, multiple submission, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the University; or behavioral misconduct, such as theft or misuse of the intellectual property of others, harassment, or disruption of the learning environment. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Student Rights & Responsibilities Policy and to report concerns regarding at:

Services for Students with Disabilities

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, UCLA Extension provides appropriate accommodations and support services to qualified applicants and students with disabilities. These include, but are not limited to, auxiliary aids/services such as sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices for hearing-impaired individuals, extended time for and proctoring of exams, and registration assistance. Accommodations and types of support services vary and are specifically designed to meet the disability-related needs of each student based on current, verifiable medical documentation. Arrangements for auxiliary aids/services are available only through UCLA Extension’s Service for Students with Disabilities Office at (310) 825-7851 or by email at [email protected]. For complete information see:


Your instructor may post the interim grade Incomplete/I if at the end of the class your overall work is of passing quality but a portion could not be submitted for understandable reasons (e.g. illness). It is your responsibility to petition your instructor for permission to submit work late and to provide an explanation, and it is his or her sole decision whether to accept the explanation. If permitted, the Incomplete/I grade will be posted and a time frame defined for you to submit the missing work, ranging from one to twelve weeks. Incomplete/I grades that remain unchanged after twelve weeks will lapse to F, NP or U. Receiving an I grade entitles you to submit only the missing work your instructor has agreed to accept late, and does not allow other work to be retaken or oblige UCLA Extension to provide continuing access to course materials via Canvas. The Incomplete/I grade is not an option for courses that do not bear credit, such as 700, 800, or 900-level courses. For complete information, see:

All Grades are Final

No change of grade may be made by anyone other than the instructor, and then, only to correct clerical errors. No term grade except Incomplete may be revised by re-examination. The correction of a clerical error may be authorized only by the instructor of record communicating directly with personnel of Student and Alumni Services.

Sexual Harassment

The University of California is committed to creating and maintaining a community where all individuals who participate in University programs and activities can work and learn together in an atmosphere free of harassment, exploitation, or intimidation. Every member of the community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence, and that such behavior violates both law and University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates our policy.

All Extension students and instructors who believe they have been sexually harassed are encouraged to contact the Department of Student and Alumni Services for complaint resolution: UCLA Extension, 1145 Gayley Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024; Voice/TTY: (310) 825-7031. View the University’s full Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence at

Additional Items

Protecting Privacy and Data During Remote Instruction

Live meeting sessions for this class are being conducted over Zoom. As the host, the instructor may be recording live sessions. Only the host has the ability to record meetings, no recording by other means is permitted. Recorded sessions will be posted in the Videos area of this class unless otherwise notified. If you have privacy concerns and do not wish to appear in the recording, do not turn on your video. If you also prefer to use a pseudonym instead of your name, please let the instructor know what name you will be using so that the instructor knows who you are during the session. To rename yourself during a Zoom meeting, click on Participants, click on your name, click on More, click on Rename. If you would like to ask a question, you may do so privately through the Zoom chat by addressing your chat question to the instructor only (and not to ""everyone""). Additionally, chat may be used and moderated for live questions, and saving of chats is enabled. If you have questions or concerns about this, please contact the instructor via Canvas Inbox.

Pursuant to the terms of the agreement between Zoom and UCLA Extension, the data is used solely for this purpose and Zoom is prohibited from re-disclosing this information. UCLA Extension also does not use the data for any other purpose. Recordings will be deleted when no longer necessary. However, recordings may become part of an administrative disciplinary record if misconduct occurs during a video conference.

Course and Instructor Evaluation

UCLA Extension values your feedback on course and instructor evaluations. We ask all students to take a few minutes to complete an end-of-course evaluation survey. Updates to the course and instruction are influenced by your feedback. Understanding your student experience is essential to ensure continuing excellence in the online classroom and is appreciated by your instructor and the UCLA Extension academic leadership.

Your participation in a survey is voluntary, and your responses are confidential. After instructors submit grades, they will be given an evaluation report, but this report will not contain your name.

About Your Online Course Materials

Please note the following about online course components at UCLA Extension:

  • Students must have basic computer skills, including the use of word processing software, email, and the ability to use internet browsers, such as Safari, Firefox, or Chrome.
  • Students are responsible for meeting the technical requirements of Canvas and familiarizing themselves with the Canvas Learning Management System.
  • Students are responsible for keeping a copy of all assignments and work submitted, and to be aware of all assignments, due dates, and course guidelines.
  • Students are encouraged to keep and/or download a local copy of their assignment files, as access to the online environment of a specific course is limited to 30 days after the final course date, as listed in the course catalog.

    To download all your assignment submissions in Canvas, please refer to the online support guide. for more information or contact Canvas Support via the help menu within Canvas.

UCLA Extension Canvas and Learning Support

For immediate 24/7 Canvas technical support, including holidays, click on Help (located on the menu to the left) where you can call or chat live with a Canvas Support representative.

UCLA Extension Instructional Design and Learning Support
The UCLA Extension Learning Support staff assists both students and instructors with Canvas-related technical support, as well as general and administrative questions.

Learning Support staff is available Monday through Friday, from 8 AM to 5 PM (Pacific Time), except holidays:

Campus Safety Escorts

For students taking classes held on the UCLA campus and in and around Westwood Village, the UCLA Police Department provides a free walking escort service every day of the year from dusk until 1 a.m. Community Service Officers (CSOs) are available to walk students, faculty, staff members and visitors to and from anywhere on campus, in Westwood Village, and in the village apartments. CSOs are uniformed students who have received special training and are employed by the UCLA Police Department. To obtain an escort, please call (310) 794-9255 and allow 15 to 20 minutes for your escort to arrive. For complete information, see:


Course calendar and related activities
When Module Title Notes
Reading and Review
Pre-course reading

Pre-course reading:
1. Reading: Developmental Editing, Preface through Ground Rules
2. Review three manuscripts (skim each, focus on your favorite)

Day 1
Overview / Fundamentals of Editing and Publishing
  1. Introductions and class expectations
    1. Intro with your own editorial background and experiences
  2. Lecture/Discussion: Overview of editing and publishing
  3. Guest lecture: Acquisitions Editor - how to assess potential
  4. Break - to review manuscripts
  5. Acquisitions Meeting:
    1. Review potential manuscripts and choose one for the whole class to developmentally edit together
  6. Lecture/Discussion: Main differences between editing different genres, and how to shape the proposal and assess potential
  7. Evening Assignments:
    1. Create a proposal and developmentally edit your chosen short story / essay
Day 2
Developmentally Editing Begins
  1. Discussion: Experience of developmentally editing short stories
    1. Workshop concerns, ideas, and successes.
  2. Break - to reassess your edits and make notes for author feedback
  3. Lecture/Discussion: Timeline, Climax, Takeaway, Setting the pace, and cutting the slack
  4. Guest lecture: Developmental Editor
  5. Lecture/Discussion: Identify what’s missing and how to fill it, and where to guide the story
  6. Evening Assignments: 
    1. Reading: Developmental Editing, Chapters 4, 5, and 7
    2. Developmentally edit your section of the full manuscript
Day 3
Editing for Marketing and How to Give Author Feedback
  1. Discussion: Experience of developmentally editing full manuscript
    1. Workshop concerns, ideas, and successes
  2. Break - to reassess your edits and make notes for author feedback
  3. Guest Lecture: Marketing Editor
  4. Lecture/Discussion: Good Titles and Marketable Descriptions
  5. Activity: Create and/or strengthen titles and marketing descriptions
  6. Guest Lecture: Experienced Author and Editor
  7. Lecture/discussion: Writing a Global Editorial Letter
  8. Break - Write an editorial letter / feedback for the author of your chosen short story/essay
  9. Discussion: Experience of writing an editorial letter, discuss difficulties and suggestions
  10. Evening Assignments:
    1. Reading: Developmental Editing, Chapter 6
    2. Write your section of the Global Editorial Letter
    3. Review the edits on the full manuscript by your classmates, make suggestions to their comments as necessary
Day 4
Editing, Marketing, and the Author Relationship
  1. Discussion: Experience of writing the Global Editorial Letter
    1. Workshop concerns, ideas, successes
  2. Group Activity: Review the entire Global Editorial Letter, checking tone, delivery, and whether “sandwiched feedback” is consistent throughout.
  3. Break - Review edits and suggestions from classmates on the edits you made to the full manuscript, accept or reject their comments.
  4. Group review and preparation for Guest Author of chosen manuscript
  5. Guest Lecturer: Author of chosen manuscript
    1. Give constructive feedback directly to the author
    2. Followed by discussion of the experience
    3. How did you think the interview went? 
  6. Discussion/Lecture: What might go wrong and how to address it
  1. How do you respond and how do you move forward while keeping to the timeline. (When to cut loose and when to push publication back)
  2. Real scenarios based on typical authors
  1. Final Discussion: Final Questions / Unanswered topics