Common advice for writers is to read, read, and read more. Read voraciously. Read widely. You need to know your genre inside and out in order to write it well. The same advice should be given to developmental editors.
Developmental editors should understand the kinds of books they are working on just as well as writers should. We need to know what readers expect so that we can help our clients deliver. We should be reading the classics to understand the genre’s history, the most popular recent books in the genres we work in, and books that have pushed at the boundaries of the genre.
We also need to go beyond that. We need to develop and maintain a current understanding of the writing craft — the how and why of storytelling.
I’m constantly spending time with writing craft books. I particularly like to carve out time for them after I finish my first pass on a manuscript and have taken the time to write down my initial thoughts and ideas. Reading these books gives me a way of distancing myself from the story to gain further insight, and helps me simultaneously amplify my thoughts.
Reading writing craft books not only helps developmental editors stay on top of how writers are currently thinking about storytelling. It can also help us find new ways of explaining complex aspects of storytelling to an author.
Here are some of the writing craft books I recommend for both writers and developmental editors.
Tanya Gold is a book editor, writing coach, and literary omnivore based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She’s been in publishing for about 20 years and has worked on all kinds of cool books. These days, she edits fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. It’s been suggested that she reads too much for her own good. This might be true. www.TanyaGold.com