Introducing: Story Mapping

Hello there, beautiful writers! It's been a while since I've published a blog entry, so I figured I'd spent a little time here today and offer a more detailed update on a couple of things I've been working on behind the scenes.

Note: I've brought this up in the Writerverse Critique Group a while ago, so if this sounds like familiar information to you, I'm sorry! It probably is. There are developments worthy of being informed of, though, so I still suggest reading on if you're interested.

Important Note: Most of what I'll be discussing in today's post will be announced in my first public newsletter to go out in OVER A YEAR (which is horrifying to think about), but until that happens, let's try to keep this between us!

Anyway, let's get back to this post . . .

I've been reflecting a lot on how much I've grown as an editor. I returned to editing full-time four years ago now, and over that course of time, I've learned so much about my approach to editing, the way I prefer to manage and engage with my clients, and how much I'm worthy of charging in terms of my editing rates.

In many ways, I've changed a lot. But there's one thing that hasn't changed — I want to offer my (self-publishing) clients an experience as similar as possible to the experience they'd get while working with a traditional publisher. The editor I had for When Stars Burn Out worked for Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins before she started freelance editing full-time for self-published authors. Working with her was such a game changer for me, and in so many ways, I credit the quality of my work and the confidence I have as an author to working with her — to the early-morning phone calls over cappuccinos, to the brainstorming we did over email together, and the late-night texts of, "I think I've figured out this plot-hole!"

Not only did she define what I wanted from an editing experience as an author, but she also embodied exactly what I one day wanted to give my own editing clients: that hand-holding, those pep-talks, and a very real level of involvement in terms of building a story from scratch, and working as hard as possible to see this author thrive and their story succeed.

I've done the best I can to produce that experience with my clients ever since, but it's been a lot harder than I imagined, admittedly — and that's partly because I care so much and often, as a result, tend to fork over more than I energetically can deliver. But it's also due to another variable that I've realized traditionally published authors receive that self-published authors do not, and that is more brainstorming upfront regarding how a story is told. Let me be more specific and give you a couple of examples: For instance, I have many traditionally published friends, and they've reported things like, "I was behind deadline and didn't have the end of the book written, but my editor told me to send it over anyway so that we could map out the end of the book together." In the rare event of selling a book on proposal, I've also heard an interesting anecdote or two about the impressive amount of brainstorming and discussion the author and their editor go about prior to the author drafting their book. This has always sort of rubbed me the wrong way, as an author, knowing how much the editor participates in the plotting of the book — but it has struck me recently that this doesn't mean the editor is telling the author how to write their book. Instead, it proves that the traditionally published author has access to professional input and guidance from the very beginning to the very end of the drafting process. And that's magical. And that's something every author should have access to, regardless of their route to publication.

I've offered Editorial Reviews throughout my editing career, which is essentially an Edit Letter that conveys thorough, developmental feedback on a manuscript without the heavy-handed involvement (and price tag) of a full-blown developmental edit — and while this is often my most popular service, I've realized for a long time now that there's a need for something that comes before this step.

This service is something privately referred to as Story Mapping: an editorial service that will take the seed of a story, the threadbare concept of it, and help it grow into something much bigger and much better. With the hands-on guidance of a professional editor while mapping a story from the ground up, the author is guaranteed to save themselves time, energy, and a whole lot of revision (all of which can erode an author's confidence, delay the publication of their work, and result in a domino effect of negative outcomes).

While I've considered offering this service for a long time now, I haven't pulled the trigger on it because I've been so busy with my existing editing client and workload — but as most of us freelancers know, the slow season (of October through December) is rapidly approaching, and in anticipation of an inevitably lighter workload coming up, I figured now would be the perfect time to officially offer this service and see how it goes.

My Story Mapping service will offer input on the following:

— Analyzing the best age category and genre for the book, marketing-wise.

— The most effective and appropriate point-of-view and tense for the narrative.

— The plot structure itself, whether it be Snowflake, Twelve-Step Mystery, Eight Sequences, or the all-time favorite of many readers, The Hero's Journey.

— Whether or not the plot calls for multiple point-of-view characters or just one.

— The depth and breadth of the story, such as whether or not the story should be told as a stand-alone, a duology, a trilogy, a quartet, or a series (and what the word count for each installment might look like). In other words: Does it have series potential?

— The loose layout of the plot structure itself, point-by-point.

— More, based on demand as I go along.

If this is something you'd be interested in, go ahead and check out the Patrons Lounge. I'm offering this service for FREE for the first two people who request.

Note: This service is based on the synopsis of the story. Reading of existing work will not be included.

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