Once upon a time, there was a self-publishing podcast from which sprung the Facebook group The Smarter Artist. To create a platform where indie-writers could meet like-minded editors, a bunch of editors within this group of writers created the spin-off group The Smarter Artist Editors. Long story short, a dedicated few started a weekly thread sharing editing tips with the community, and we’re now ready to share these tips with the world.
Today, I’m sharing a tip from Emily Deady. Emily is a freelance editor who loves fantasy and historical fiction, especially if it involves a good romance.
A few weeks ago, I met up with a friend for coffee and a writing session. Of course, we started by just chatting.
We discovered that we’d both had a similar experience over the past month in receiving edits on our work.
I had received some intense critique on a short story. While I consider myself professional enough to accept criticism, what I hadn’t expected was for that critique to throw off my writing groove on a completely different project. But throw me for a loop it did. And it was almost a week before I got back into a healthy writing groove on my other novel. I wanted to go back and fix the short story immediately, but I knew I should wait until I had gotten feedback from more than one person.
My friend was going through something similar. She’s working on a non-fiction piece that is very personal and important to her. Over the past month, she’d received feedback from a handful of people, which had also thrown her off more than anticipated. Not only was the feedback from her different readers completely contradictory, it was difficult to reconcile the personal nature of her project with the cold, analytical feedback she was getting.
We chatted about the nature of critique, and how difficult it can still be even when you are ‘used to it’. Then, we opened our laptops for some focused work time.
She planned on starting her edit, but first, she did something fascinating. She typed up an “Editing Manifesto”. So before she took in what other people thought, she wanted to make sure that she knew exactly what SHE wanted out of her project.
I thought that was brilliant. So, of course I did the same thing. Here’s a truncated version of mine:
‘I want to create something that is entertaining, fun, memorable, and gives readers those happy, cozy feelings that come with a good romance. What I love about my story is:
- The adventure at sea
- The enemies to lovers trope
- That they are confined to a closed space at sea while they hate eachother hehe
- Etc… (there’s like ten more that I won’t bore you with)
With this edit, I want to tighten the story, improve the dialogue, and clean up the exposition so its more setup/payoff. I do not need to create a perfect story. I just want to create a fun story that introduces my fun fantasy world, and introduces me as an author.’
Knowing what I want out of my edit has already helped me to accept/reject critiques and stay professionally focused on making my story better.
It took five minutes to write my manifesto, and I plan on doing one with each project I write. It was so helpful to think about the story I’d written, and frame how I wanted to move forward.
If that sounds like something that could be helpful to you, give it a shot! It can be personal and private, but feel free to share it with your actual editor. It will help them to frame their feedback and focus on what’s important to you as the author.