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STORY EDITING

There was a time when publishing companies had Story editors on staff. They’d find writers with potential, then work with them over time to develop literary talent. Max Perkins was such an editor. If you’ve seen the movie Genius, you’ll have a sense of how he worked with authors like Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Robert Gottlieb is another example.

That doesn’t happen so much anymore. Today, authors are left to learn the craft of Storytelling themselves. We find beta readers to give us their gut reactions, and sometimes we pay editors only to be told that they’re “not feeling it”, or a scene is “flat”.

I have been on the receiving end of such feedback myself. It was well-meaning but essentially useless since they couldn’t tell me exactly what “flat” meant, or what I could do to fix it. So, I studied the art of Story editing so I could help authors like you.

Some of you may prefer to edit your own work, and if so, I highly recommend The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know. Visit www.storygrid.com for more information. If you’d rather have me do the editing so that you can get started on your next book, read on.

When I review a manuscript, I identify first whether it works or doesn’t work. I analyze it act by act, scene by scene. I figure out what works and doesn’t work, and why. Then, I offer concrete solutions to the Story problems.

I ask myself questions such as:

  • Does the beginning hook the reader?
  • Does the middle build through a series of progressive complications?
  • Does the ending pay off in an inevitable yet surprising way?
  • Do the scenes contain the five essential building blocks?
  • Do the scenes turn?
  • Does the protagonist arc?
  • What does he want on a superficial level?
  • More importantly, what does he need?
  • Are the wants and needs compelling?

This sort of detailed analysis is not for everyone. It’s the kind of in-depth editing that A-Listers get though, and for anyone looking to earn a serious living from their creative work, it’s a must.

To learn more, contact me.