Structural editing is also known as developmental editing or substantive editing, and it’s an important first stage of getting your manuscript right.
It addresses what we call the The Five Ps.
Plot: Does your story make sense? Is it credible or unbelievable? Is the central plot and premise well presented? Do sub-plots enhance the story or get in the way? Indeed, are there so many sub-plots the book is all over the show? Are there holes big enough to drive a bus through?
Pace: Does the plot develop at the right tempo? Is it too slow or do things happen too quickly? Are some passages pointless, contributing no extra value to the story?
People: Are your characters convincing in how they’re motivated and how they relate to each other? Sufficiently developed to be believable? Do their actions mesh credibly with their personality? Is their behaviour irritating when it shouldn’t be?
POV: Is the point of view clearly presented or are you constantly ‘head hopping’ within passages? Are the POV voices consistent with their characters and background? Are you using too many POVs or sometimes even none (the ‘omnipotent narrator’)?
Patter: Do your characters sound real when they speak out loud? Are you constantly forcing them to speak passages of expositional dialogue?
Ok – so the last ‘p’ is a bit of a stretch but it makes it easier to remember!