I’ve been working with a group of fascinating writers who are working on new books right now, and taking advantage of a coaching opportunity from a great storyteller and inspirationist, Jacob Nordby.
Although Jacob’s writing so far has been inspirational fiction, I was pleased to see that the folks who signed up for his program had a variety of projects in process, and that some had already published, whereas others were looking to get that story out (whether memoir, history, channeled message, or fantasy novel) for the first time.
While Jacob worked on providing the motivation and self-analysis that go into staying with and translating one’s feelings and ideas onto paper in a fashion that gets the writer from beginning to end (very important, trust me!), he asked two editors/writers, Barb Black and myself, to evaluate writing submissions (fragments, initial chapters, etc.) and give the writers an idea of the emotional and intellectual impact of their story in a “big picture” sort of way, along with some general structure guidelines based on the type of story they were trying to tell.
First, I was amazed at the level of good writing involved. Each writer not only had a central theme or plot/context, they all had a distinctive voice and writing style that pulled me in immediately. Some were in much rougher draft/journaling mode than others, but the spark was definitely there, and they needed both a critical assessment and a bit of a boost to encourage them to continue creating.
This manuscript evaluation business is extremely satisfying work. I have my own creative writing (mostly poetic in form—keeps me from rambling), but I love being able to contribute in this way to another writer’s creation. Like watching a flower bloom or a child discover her own drawing skill.
I also enjoy the more mechanical aspects of copy editing and proofreading, but this work of supporting stories is just goosebumps in the extreme.
PS: Let me know when I can help you meet your geni(e)us. 🙂
From the Shepherd’s Satchel
Editing is always a subjective thing, as is the judgment on what a bit of writing is about. At An American Editor blog awhile back, Rich wrote up a nice piece on dealing with editor bias. Check it out here.