All great books come from a harmonious collaboration between a writer and her editor. Many people think the editor is some kind of heartless boss dictating where the story should go in order to sell the most books. In our view, the writer is the architect of the house and we, the editors, are simply the subcontractors hired to execute your vision and guide you away from mishaps. We’re often told that projects are improved by our influence, and this is the highest praise a writer could ever give an editor.
Even a 1,000-page novel started with the smallest germ of an idea or an image: a man caught stealing bread, a boy watching two setting suns on Tatooine, a salesman wakes up one morning to find himself turned into an insect. You’ll find that these seeds carry all the emotional resonance, supporting characters, and intricate plot twists you’ll find later on while writing the story, but it’s not always easy to cultivate those seeds on your own. At this earliest stage, we can help develop your ideas, explore the possibilities, find the themes you didn’t even know were there, and pose the right questions to set you off on new and exciting paths.
Your first draft is an artistic mash of new ideas, crazy twists of fate, and imaginative misfortunes for your sweetly realized characters. Editing is when you distill it into a fine work of literature. At this stage we listen carefully to your goals and make sure they’re achieved in the text, no matter if it’s a genre potboiler or a stream-of-consciousness experiment. Questions of pacing, character voice, authenticity, and style are all answered during the edit. And, since this can be the most terrifying part for a writer, our answers come with reassuring jokes and smiley emoticons.
The most basic yet crucial form of editing is the sadly underrated copyedit. This is either the last step in the process or the only step if you’ve already structurally edited yourself to satisfaction. Either way, we make sure all the commas and semi-colons are in place. We’ve found that even the most seasoned storytellers are so afraid of grammar and spelling that they break out into flop sweats when they see a copy of Elements of Style on a bookshelf. Just leave it to us; we read Elements of Style for fun.