I work with authors whose goal is publication. They range from seasoned writers (including a novelist with five bestsellers under her belt, a former managing editor of The New York Times, best-selling non-fiction authors), to those who have never published a word but who have a compelling story to tell.
Assisting with books at all stages -- from guiding creation to overseeing a top-to-bottom revision -- my aim is to provide the kind of direction and encouragement that allows the author to do the bulk of the revision him or herself.
1) Global suggestions
"There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are," admitted Somerset Maugham. Each novel I've worked with has its own wonderful unruliness, and a key to revision is respecting that, so there is no set process for all books. But the first step is often an overview read resulting in an editorial report pertaining to the book as a whole, with margin notes and line editing as illustration. The goals of this stage often include ratcheting up dramatic tension, deepening portrayals, and further exploiting setting so that the book opens a window on a world that readers have never seen in quite this way.
For memoirs, biographies, history and other narrative non-fiction, I often function as an architectural consultant, helping to build a structure upon which to place the complex material. I suggest ways to expand the research or further plumb personal experience.
In all genres, I note passages where the language really sings in order to help the author become more conscious of the strengths of his or her style.
2) Margin notes
Depending on the author’s wishes, I will either send the manuscript back for revision after the global suggestions, or do a more detailed edit of each chapter. This often entails flagging passages to consider deleting, condensing, or moving; and suggesting potential new scenes to build irresistible rising action, or ways to expand existing ones so the reader is right there with the characters.
In non-fiction books, I’ll mark junctures where more information or color might be added, or insights could be further developed. Basically, I ask a lot of questions!
3) Line editing
"The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightning and the lightning bug." -Mark Twain
Once the book takes its final shape, I often work with the author on the sentences, helping to find the right word to replace a nearly right word; prune dead wood; keep the dialogue percolating; modulate the tone; vary syntax to create texture; hone the images and analogies.
“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” -Oscar Wilde
Perhaps one of the most useful functions of an independent editor is to help the writer know when the book is done. I also advise on agents and publishers (though I’m not a conduit to any one agent or acquisitions editor).
Having read many hundreds of query letters, synopses and proposals in my years at Bridge Works, I’m able to help compose these calling cards.
If you're interested:
Send at least the first 20 pages of the manuscript, preferably as an attachment, with the word EDIT in the e-mail subject line. Please also send a 1-page description, including:
*the plot (if a novel) or the subject (if narrative non-fiction);
*what kind of help you’d like from an editor;
*any prior publications.
I'll let you know if I think I'm the right gal for the job and, if so, provide a fee quote and time frame.