Top 3 Structural Editing Questions For Fiction Writers

After completing my first two novels, I knew to become a better writer, I needed to learn to edit my own story.

Write a Story Readers Love

What about you? Before sending your story to beta readers, writers’ critique groups, or to an editor, don’t you want your story to be the best you can make it?

I put all my energy in learning how to perform a structural edit. A structural edit, also known as a developmental edit or a story edit, will turn your draft into a story readers love. You’ll notice I like to use the term story edit. It sounds much more fun than the formal terms!


A Great Story Readers Love

Once you have a draft written, it’s time to focus on characters, plot, and setting.


During a story edit, you also take a hard look at your characters. How often do they appear? What are their goals? What gets in the way of their goals? Characters will drive the tension in your story, and tension is what keeps a reader engaged in your story.


Performing a story edit on your first draft means analyzing your story from a high-level perspective and fixing any weak areas. You want to make sure the story structure makes sense, the scenes are tense, there are no plot holes, and your key scenes appear in the best place along your story arc.


Finally, the story edit should examine your settings. Do you make the most of your settings? How often do you use the same setting, and is it too often? Do your settings help with the tone of your scenes? Settings are key to keeping your reader engaged, so don’t ignore them.

Where To Start Your Story Edit

Here are three questions to ask yourself when you review a scene and look for ways to improve it.

1. What is the purpose of this scene?

Defining the purpose of the scene first allows you to address other elements of the scene and test if they are in line with the purpose. A scene may have more than one purpose, but see if you can choose the most important one and then ask yourself does this help drive the story forward.

2. Who has the point of view?

Multiple points of view means the character who controls the POV for a scene changes from scene to scene. As a writer, you must be in control of this aspect. The generally accepted method is to have one POV character per scene. Switching mid-scene can be known as head-hopping and can jar the reader from the story.

3. Is the setting the best place for emotional impact?

When answering the question, think about who has the point of view for the scene and what makes them feel strong or vulnerable.

Do you have a character who is afraid of the dark? Imagine the character is about to have a confrontation with an employee. If the character feels confident being in his/her own office and you want the character to be in a position of strength, then use the office as a setting.

If you want the character to feel vulnerable during the confrontation, try locating him/her outside, at night, in an isolated parking lot. And make it very dark. The streetlight is broken. There is no moon. Maybe it’s windy, so a cry for help won’t be heard.

Tackle each question and edit each scene accordingly.

Fictionary is the first online tool for editing your story, not just your words. Think characters, plot, and settings. Find out more at

Download our free eBook, Story Editing: 15 Key Elements of Fiction To Ensure Your Story Works and learn how story editing is all about evaluating the major components of your story.

Turn Your First Draft Into A Great Story

Try Fictionary for free. The first 10 days are on us. No credit card required.

What Writers Are Saying About Fictionary!

D.S. Kane, Amazon Bestselling Author

“I have used Fictionary to revise my current work in progress, entitled MindField, an espionage technothriller due out in early December 2017. My feeling is that Fictionary helped me to improve the manuscript significantly, and I will use it on all my subsequent novels. I am trained as both a novelist and screenwriter, but I focus exclusively on producing novels. And, that is where Fictionary is most useful. The toolbox within Fictionary helps a novelist see exactly where their work is weakest and strongest, and pushes me to work on fixing my problems.”


6 thoughts on “Top 3 Structural Editing Questions For Fiction Writers

  1. Your website looks interesting. I will definitely give it a try once my first draft progresses a bit further. Thank you, you just got me motivated to continue writing.

    Liked by 1 person

Thank you for commenting! Your email address will be stored but not shared.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.