You are something special, you know that? I mean it. According to the New York Times, eighty one percent of Americans think they have a book in them. Most of those people will never do more than think about writing, but you've done it!
It's not easy, and you might not be quite finished yet. Believe me, I know it can be tough, but I am telling you that you should be proud of yourself! Even if you're stuck somewhere in the muddy middle, or you've reached the end and the climax seems a little... anti-climactic, there is hope and there is help.
A content editor (we go by many names, but I'll keep it simple) is someone who reviews all the major elements of the story to help you find ways to make it better. Whether you're a novelist or screenwriter, intend to self publish or go the more traditional route, this process will show you where your story is succeeding and where it might need a little help.
The evaluation varies from editor to editor, and from project to project. My process is tailored to each client, and starts with a conversation. Whether in person, or via email, telephone, or Skype, the first step is to discuss your goals. What does success look like to you? Who is your ideal audience? And what kind of feedback do you think you will need from me?
Then you will send me your novel or screenplay - it doesn't have to be finished - I'll read it (sometimes two or three times), and write an in-depth evaluation essay. For an advanced edit of a full novel or screenplay this feedback could be anywhere from eight to ten pages, including but not limited to:
Genre & Demographic
We'll talk about who you hope to write for, and then I'll tell you who your book is for from a reader's perspective. If the two don't line up we can talk about how to adjust for the demographic you are aiming for.
Do your characters stand out on the page? Are you trying to create a burning romance, or a heartbreaking sibling betrayal? Do your characters grow and change, do they even need to?
Plot & Pacing
Some stories keep the reader balanced on the knife-edge between suspense and action. Some build slowly toward a devastating emotional revelation. Pacing isn't just the speed of a story, it's the rhythm. I'll look at the speed and rhythm of your whole story, as well as evaluating each chapter or scene for purpose and impact.
Point of View
An effective narrator is crucial to storytelling. Is your point of view character the best person to tell the story? Does your voice as writer intrude on a scene? Maybe that's a feature, like Terry Pratchett and you should do it more, or maybe you want your voice or signature to be invisible to the reader.
Characters don't talk like real people, but they still need to sound human. They need to answer the questions readers are asking without becoming too on-the-nose. We'll talk about character voice, conversational rhythms, and other helpful things.
Story is all about Layers
I believe the words we use have the power to influence minds and hearts. I believe the writing on the page should speak for itself, but the only way to do that is to make sure all the elements come together in a way that enhances the message.
My focus as an editor is on story, not grammar and punctuation. As important as those are, my first goal is to strengthen the narrative through an in-depth examination of all the elements of the story. I'll address plot-holes, problematic characterization, and structural flaws, among other things.
Most importantly, I believe in encouragement. Critics are everywhere, from concept to publication or production, and it takes a lot of courage to share your work. If you decide to work with me, I promise to handle your project with respect. I will offer honest feedback that includes the strengths of the writing as well as areas that need work.
1. What's the difference between content editing and copy editing?
Fundamentally, copy editing is about punctuation, grammar and spelling. Content editing goes in-depth with structure, themes, character, and more. Ultimately, both are necessary, whether you do them yourself, or hire a professional.
2. Do you copy edit?
Not personally, but I do have someone I can recommend if that's what you need.
3. What genres do you edit?
My favorites are action & adventure, mystery, romance, fantasy & scifi. But I've also done memoirs, children's lit, middle grade, and many others.
4. You're expensive, can you give me a discount?
I love what I do, and I'm good at it. I also offer a level of personalized contact beyond most other editors. I believe my prices are fair, but I can recommend other editors if you'd prefer a more basic level of service.
5. How do I know you'll do a good job?
Asking for help on your project is a big step, and I understand that. If you'd like to sample my services before paying for the whole package then message me via the contact form and we'll arrange a free consultation call, or a starter sample of five pages. You can check out my style of advice, and if you think we'll work well together we can move forward from there.
6. I have a great idea I think you should write!
I have a better idea: I'll write my ideas, and you write your ideas, and the world will be all the better for having both perspectives!
Seriously, I'm not a ghostwriter, and I really do think that no one could tell the story you would tell. If you want help developing your idea, that's a different story (see what I did there?) and I'd be happy to help. Send me a message and we'll talk!