WHAT I WILL LOOK AT
Fiction for young readers, from picture books to chapter books, from middle grade to young adult novels. I’m fine with pretty well every genre with the exception of horror of the psycho/slasher variety. I like fantasy but not the kind of epic fantasy with too high a page count and too many characters with vaguely Welsh-sounding names.
WHAT I LOOK FOR
Teaching and lecturing and writing on craft have helped fine-tune my approach to editing. As a writer, I know, all too well, the highs and lows of drafting a novel: finding structure in a “hot mess,” a narrative arc that grows organically from the characters’ needs. I want to see a character react to the conflicts they must confront out of believable motivation. I want those characters to have a lively stage upon which to act that is not merely setting but gives the story a sense of place, whether it be a work of realism or fantasy.
I believe characters are best revealed through dialogue and action: what they say and what they do. I want to see things happen, not just hear about it. And I want to see real stakes. These are some of the things I look for in a manuscript. But then there is line-editing: phrasing, pacing, word choice; this is where that most ambiguous of qualities, Voice, comes into play. I look for that, too. It is a great joy to help a writer find their voice.
HOW I WORK
My critique will involve a running commentary of questions and suggestions in the margins of the manuscript. Where there are larger concerns, I will make notes in my cover letter. The cover letter will, first and foremost, give my overall thoughts about the story, regarding what works well and what needs further attention. I’m also happy to do a follow up, either by email, phone or Zoom.
My approach is global, looking at every aspect of the work. I can’t resist noting typos or grammatical issues, but that is not my primary aim; copy-editor comes later in the process and is a whole other thing. What I offer, simply, is substantive developmental editorial assessment.
Coaching? In as much as a book-coach helps to keep you going by providing you with the tools and resources and encouragement to more effectively get across your ideas: then yes, absolutely! But, for me, that process starts with a finished first draft, however rough. I’m not going to guide you through the steps of turning your ideas into prose.
Book doctoring? I will address big-picture issues and make suggestions as to how to fix them. I won’t do the revising for you. I’m not interested in ghost-writing.
I charge $75.00 per hour. A novel of 300 manuscript pages (90,000 words) might take anywhere from 15-20 hours. If it’s going to take longer I will be sure to let you know well in advance.
If I’m taking longer than expected on a job for any reason, I will let you know right away so you can decide whether or not you wish me to continue. If I find that there are crucial structural issues in the manuscript, I may suggest that you reconsider going for a full editorial assessment at that point. If I don’t feel I can help you, I will be sure to let you know.