Many editing services break memoir editing into a menu of options from which you must choose and pay for individually. My expertise combines these services.
A manuscript editor should give you a full Content Edit. This identifies story and writing flaws that are compromising the success of your manuscript. Examples include point of view, structure, transitions, pacing and plot flow, dialogue, scene development, character development, narrative arc issues.
In addition, my clients automatically get Developmental Editing, which includes not just assessing and understanding what is working and not working in a manuscript but communicating that information to you in a way that helps you develop the skills to master problem areas. Developmental Editing involves superior teaching skills, and not all editors have these.
The third layer of editing is a line edit. This focuses on grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, language repetitions, and formatting errors and inconsistencies. I adhere to The Chicago Manual of Style.”
What should an editor do for your story?
You want a memoir editor who can write, teach, and edit brilliantly.
An editor must understand how to use writing craft, how to teach you to enhance your craft, and how to communicate solutions directly, yet with the support necessary for you to succeed.
I have two books published by St. Martin’s Press, including a literary memoir and America’s go-to guide for writing memoir; a long history of teaching at university level; years of editing privately with writers completing books; and dozens of speaking engagements sharing the art and craft of memoir.
Here is what I do for you as an editor:
First, I get inside the story you’ve written. I seek the goals you are reaching for.
Second, when I understand your intentions, I determine if you’ve achieved them. If there is something to be learned, I teach that. If there is development of content, or editing to be done, I do that.
Third, I advise about what makes narrative nonfiction work and what must be done to achieve publication.
If you have written many pages, but the story isn’t coming together, we talk. I listen and ask questions. Then I steer and make writing suggestions. I analyze drafts and give feedback. Together we move your story forward so that is has a narrative arc and a singular voice.
Whenever I have your manuscript pages before me, I read slowly, writing thoughts, explanations, and examples on your pages. I name what works, what doesn’t work, why it does or does not work, and how to fix it. I send you these pages and my analysis report. We talk on the phone or via Skype, clarify questions, and devise a way for you to move toward publication.
I love this work.
Lisa Dale Norton, author of the bestselling book Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir, edits, coaches and teaches memoir writing internationally. She is the author of the literary memoir Hawk Flies Above: Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills compared to the writing of Annie Dillard. Both Norton’s books are published by St. Martin’s Press, New York.