Crafting Your Story, Your BookSM

From Concept to Composition

Biography – Memoir – History – Philosophy – Psychology – Theology – Religion

Manuscript Assessment — Developmental & Copy Editing — Compositional Re-Writing

“True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, As those move easiest who have learned to dance.” – Alexander Pope

If your literary bent is one of the non-fiction genres of biography, memoir, history, philosophy, psychology, or religion—or your passion is Christian non-fiction (biblical, theological, historical, ethical, homiletical, pastoral, or inspirational)—then I may be able to assist you.


Every author needs an editor to catch the loose strings.

 What You May Expect

As an editor I devote my analytical, evaluative, developmental, and compositional skills to assist you with crafting your book-length manuscript or article. I am personally committed to working with you to achieve, with satisfaction, your best writing expressed in your own voice.

From beginning to end we collaborate as a team. I maintain an open channel of communication with you as a valued client whose writing is of great importance to me as your editor. I bring to your project five decades of experience as a published writer and editor.

We first get acquainted via a Zoom interview that enables us to obtain a sense for being a good fit for one another. I may ask you to submit additional material for review, beyond the sample accompanying your initial inquiry. Once the nature and scope of the project is agreed upon, you receive an offer based upon the type of editing requested, my current fee schedule, and the timeframe.

In the event you wish to inquire about my undertaking an editorial project on your behalf, you may reach out to me via my profile page on Reedsy’s website, which is the platform through which I conduct my editorial communication, contracting, payment, and delivery. If you wish to be in touch with me about a matter unrelated to editorial work, you may do so from the contact page of this website.

I welcome the opportunity to learn what you are passionate about as a writer.

My writing teacher used to say that the cure for writer’s block is to go back to the basics, starting with the alphabet.

The Types of Editing

Both of us benefit at the outset from answers to two clarifying questions about your writing project: (1) In what specific genre of conventional or Christian non-fiction are you writing? (2) Which one of the following types of editing best describes what you need now, and which ones possibly later?

EDITORIAL ASSESSMENT You’ve completed the first draft of your book or essay and want an overall evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses, including suggestions for improving structure, organization, style, tone, theme, characterization, voice, point of view, plot, dialogue, diction, documentation, and how best to retain your readers’ engagement. You will receive a written report with concrete recommendations accompanied by track changes along with comments, questions, and suggestions. The assessment process concludes with an optional conversation about the content of your report.

DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING  You’ve completed the first draft of your book or essay and want a comprehensive, in-depth, paragraph-by-paragraph report with explicit recommendations throughout the manuscript for potential restructuring and redevelopment of your content and its presentation, including concept, theme, theses, timeline, argument, evidence, transitions, conclusions, documentation, style, voice, dialogue, diction, plot, and characterization. The developmental report addresses important matters for your consideration when revising your text. It is accompanied by track changes along with comments, questions, suggestions, and a style sheet. The developmental editing concludes with an optional conversation about the content of your report.

COPY EDITING You are basically satisfied with the direction and substance of your completed manuscript, yet you need meticulous fine-tuning before you present it, or re-present it, to an agent or publisher, concentrating on the strengthening of prose, consistency of style, precise wording, grammar, syntax, diction, punctuation, spelling, and the use of illustration, metaphor, and analogy. You want to obtain that highly polished version of your work consistent with your voice and ready for submission to the distinctive medium in which you plan to publish it. Your edited manuscript contains track changes along with comments, questions, suggestions, and a style sheet. The copy editing concludes with an optional conversation about your copy-edited manuscript.

 COMPOSITIONAL RE-WRITING Your manuscript is in need of a complete revision throughout. Compositional re-writing goes beyond developmental editing and copy editing, with detailed line-by-line, phrase-by-phrase, word-by-word narrative modification and restructuring of content, diction, phrasing, pace, tone, and emotion, consistent with your voice, and accompanied by track changes, comments, and a style sheet. The process concludes with an optional conversation about your completed manuscript. Compositional re-writing is the most comprehensive form of editing.

PROOFREADING You’re ready for the final inspection of the formatted and typeset PDF of your manuscript, correcting last-minute spelling, grammatical, or typographical errors before it goes to print.

    If only my book royalties permitted me to live like royalty.

The Process

Your Project Summary with a Sample of Its Content → Our Zoom Conversation → My Offer with a Price Estimate and the Proposed Contract → Your Contract Acceptance → My Editing of Your Project → Your Edited Project Delivered to You

(1) When contacting me through Reedsy, you submit a brief summary of your project and other details as stipulated, including a sample chapter or section of your manuscript for my review.

(2) If your project is one that I wish to learn more about from you, then we set up a time for us to get acquainted via a Zoom meeting, to see if our collaboration seems to be a good fit as we discuss your project and answer your questions.

(3) Once we decide to proceed to the next step, I make a formal offer including price based upon my current fee schedule and the nature, extent, and complexity of editing required. My offer is accompanied by a detailed contract setting forth the scope, timeframe, and terms of payment for the work to be performed. 

(4) Your formal acceptance of the offer and terms of the contract.

(5) Your manuscript is edited and then delivered to you. Throughout the entire process you and I remain in conversation about the progress of your project since collaboration is vital to achieving the results you desire.

If your contract calls for editorial assessment, you will receive an overall report with general and specific recommendations, concluding with an optional conversation about your manuscript assessment.

If your contract calls for developmental editingyou will receive a comprehensive, in-depth, paragraph-by-paragraph report with detailed recommendations for revising your work, accompanied by track changes and a style sheet, and concluding with an optional conversation about your developmental report.

If your contract calls for compositional re-writing, you will receive your re-written manuscript accompanied by track changes and a style sheet, concluding with an optional conversation about your completed manuscript.

  Dressing up the prose is no small thing.

About Charles Davidson

My publications include George Buttrick’s Guide to Preaching the Gospel (Abingdon Press, 2020) and Bone Dead, and Rising: Vincent van Gogh and the Self Before God (Cascade Books, 2011), a theological and psychological biography of Van Gogh’s life and art. My professional articles, biblical commentary and curricula, essays, and poetry have appeared in Pastoral Psychology,Theology Today,The Journal of Presbyterian History, Adult Discovery, Christian Education Shared Approaches, The Presbyterian Outlook, and Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics.

I received a Bachelor of Arts in English, philosophy, and religion from Hampden-Sydney College; a Master of Divinity in biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral studies, and Master of Theology in the history of Christianity from Union Presbyterian Seminary; a Doctor of Ministry in pastoral counseling and psychotherapy from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. I served as pastor of Presbyterian (USA) congregations in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia; adjunct instructor of philosophy at Henry Ford Community College, Dearborn, MI, and of philosophy and theology at St. Mary’s College, Orchard Lake, MI; a clinician with Pastoral Counseling Services of Central Virginia in Lynchburg; and undergraduate professor of history and the Darrel Rollins graduate professor of pastoral theology, care, and counseling at Virginia University of Lynchburg. I live in Asheville, North Carolina.

                 The rainy day scene calls for some imagination.

Testimonials, Endorsements, Reviews

“When things began to get a bit tangled in my mind, and I felt I was unsure of a clear perspective in evaluating the manuscript draft of my project, Charlie Davidson was able to show how it needed to be pulled together and reset in clear, revealing ideas and examples. He seems to be able to do this with ease. He has got it in him to provide editing that opens up all kinds of new, coherent, explicit language and structure, and his personal and professional support was critical for me in the successful completion of the book. I highly recommend him.” — Douglas Heidt, The Love That Will Not Let You Go: Being a Christian Is Not What You Think

“I wish to thank my editor, Charles Davidson, for the amazing way that he has walked with me, encouraged me from the very moment he set eyes on the manuscript, has helped to broaden and deepen my writing, and has believed in this project from the beginning of our work together. Charles gave the confidence to me that I needed to launch this project and was just the editor I needed to do so. I will be forever grateful.” —Conrad Kanagy, a Reedsy client, from the acknowledgments, A Church Dismantled, A Kingdom Restored

“Working with Charlie has been a joy. From the start, he showed incredible interest in my manuscript. His edits were clear and his investment in my work was beyond expectation. It would be a pleasure to work with him again on my next project. I highly recommend Charlie to anyone seeking a premier editor.” —Lumi Nichols, a Reedsy client, From Pain to Purpose: A Young Woman’s Journey from a Communist Prison to an American Pulpit

“It has been a pleasure working with Charles. His wisdom and insight have been invaluable in completing my project. Throughout the project he has been very easy to work with. He is readily available to contact and is thorough and prompt. I could not have asked for a better person to collaborate with and will forevermore be in his debt.” —Chris Schultz, a Reedsy Client

“Charles is a very pleasant, competent, and great fellow to work with. He not only doesn’t beat around the bush with what he thinks, but is also willing to provide extra help to upcoming authors. He edited my work exceptionally quickly, and with stellar proficiency. I would recommend Charles to anyone who wants to get their manuscript edited right. —Abraham Rogers, a Reedsy Client

“Approachable, excellent writer, good listener; gets to the ‘kernel’ of the matter quickly; the glass is always half full, not half empty. When I had a writing project he was one to whom I turned for editorial advice. I found his suggestions most helpful and encouraging.” Walter Smith, Learning to Forgive: A Memoir of Doubt and Faith

“Charles Davidson has done a masterful job of curating Buttrick’s lectures and of painting within the introductory biography a winsomely accurate picture of Buttrick in and beyond the pulpit.” —Theodore J. Wardlaw, president and professor of homiletics, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, TX, endorser, George Buttrick’s Guide to Preaching the Gospel“

“George Buttrick becomes a teacher once again, not only through his own words, but through Charles Davidson’s biographical sketch and copious helpful annotations.” —John W. Kuykendall, president emeritus, Davidson College, Davidson, NC, endorser, George Buttrick’s Guide to Preaching the Gospel

“You don’t have to be a theologian or artist to appreciate this book. I know: I am neither, and I found it to be a masterful, compelling work that kept me turning pages and left me feeling enriched and enlightened. . . . Davidson melds scholarship with elegant prose to produce a provocative portrait of the great artist. In an engaging, never-pedantic style, he sheds light on Vincent—the artist, the man, the minister, the brother, the lover. . . . I felt inspired.” —Carol Cole, actor, reviewer of Charles Davidson’s Bone Dead and Rising: Vincent van Gogh and the Self Before God

“As much a volume of poignant poetry as of delightfully crafted prose . . . [and] consummate and definitive scholarship that reads like a novel. . . . Once you have taken up this volume it is impossible to put the book down. . . . You will not wish to miss this.” —J. Harold Ellens, reviewer of Charles Davidson’s Bone Dead and Rising: Vincent van Gogh and the Self Before God, HTS Theological Studies, South Africa

“I had a lovely experience [as a guest contributor] participating in Charles’ blog, Life Turnings. He is a kind gentleman and a gifted editor. He knows how to apply just the right bit of polish to bring out the best in his writers’ works.” Debra Wesselmann, Integrative Team Treatment for Attachment Trauma in Children 

“I worked with Charles when he was publishing Life Turnings as a regular blog [with guest contributors]. The value of engaging him as an editor is that he not only has good editing skills, but he is also supportive of the writer. So if you want a good editor who also cares about you as a person, I recommend you contact him.” Stephen McCutchan, A Star and a Tear

The best ideas for my spy novels always come to me when I’m fully relaxed and out of earshot of my publisher.
Graphic illustrations compliments of Captions by Charles Davidson.

Why Reedsy?

On Reedsy you will have access not only to editorial expertise but also to specialists in book cover design, marketing, publicity, ghostwriting, web design, translation, and discovery reviews. As stated on Reedsy’s website, “Every single freelance editor on the Reedsy marketplace has been carefully selected. They all have extensive experience and impressive portfolios.”

Click on the Reedsy Icon to Contact Charles