Over the last year, Amanda has edited my novels Game Night and If Pigs Could Fly as well as the Game Night prequel novella Saving Stone. And when I’ve bashed out an nth draft of If Pigs Could Fly’s sequel, Sticks and Stones, Amanda will be my number one choice on a shortlist of one to edit it.
I could leave this recommendation there. After all, the best recommendations in life are generally those from satisfied customers like myself, saying, I’ve used her services in the past, I’ll use them again, and so should you. But I feel that transparency and honesty both behove1 me to say something further.
In my case, I feel that having an editor like Amanda both adds to and complements my writing abilities, but also allows me to extend myself as a writer. The first of those is perhaps obvious: pointing out jokes or descriptions that don’t work; highlighting section that are either over-long and boring or abrupt and truncated; and spotting underlying flaws in plot or character actions.
The latter is perhaps less obvious, but I’ll try to illustrate it. Part of my writing style is, I’d like to think, that i use rich complex sentences that play with language. A member of a writing group I used to belong to once said that my writing was very “epigrammatic”. (I had to look that up, but it turned out to be good). But the flip side of this is that I can often go too far, producing a sentence so convoluted that a reader will find themselves getting lost in its labyrinthine structure, only navigating their way out after much head-scratching and re-reading.
Amanda is my safety net here, my security tether. With her at my back I can push my writing without fear, without second guessing, secure in the knowledge that if I fall, she’ll catch me. (Typically by highlighting the offending section and attaching a comment to it pointing out that a re-wording to simplify it would be good). This doesn’t mean that I’ll take her every suggestion or heed every warning; at the end of the day it’s still my work, and stubborn fool that I am, I probably jump out of the “safety net” more often than I should.
But I can say that every single point Amanda makes is thought provoking; where I don’t simply take her suggestion or correction as is, and in the vast majority of cases I do, I’ll think about it, consider it, and usually end up making some sort of change somewhere.
To me, attempting to self-edit your own fiction is like attempting to cut your own hair, and risks a similar humiliation when you expose the resulting “work” to public view. It’s not just that it’s hard to be impartial about your own creation; it’s that you simply cannot know how your words will read to someone who isn’t you. Perhaps you’ve make a joke that relies on a piece of knowledge that it turns out most people don’t know. Perhaps one piece of your story references another part of the story that you meant to put in, but forgot. Maybe – like a tired anecdote about a drunken escapade – a whole stretch of story is interesting to you only because it’s your story, and not through any actual, universal interest.
I cannot stress highly enough my belief that every story needs an editor, and if you’re looking for one, I’d suggest you check Amanda out. It’s always a pleasure working with her, and the feedback you get back will be detailed, complete, challenging, and insightful. You can find her at:
1Yes, behove’s an absurdly archaic word. I’m feeling whimsical. Shoot me!