There’s often only a permeable line between coaching and editing. In practice, as I work with a writer, I find myself slipping from coaching to editing and back. That’s how close coaching and editing really are. Depending on the state of your manuscript, one or the other or both are called for.
How it works
Generally, I read sections of a manuscript—say 20-30 pages—and return this edited portion to you [as an attachment—but snail mail works well too] with comments and suggestions—and sometimes edits [also known as suggested corrections].
I find working on a short segment of your manuscript to be more effective for contributing to the quality of the manuscript. Sometimes, of course, I have a question on, say, page 17 and the you might protest, “But, this is answered on page 85! You haven’t read the whole manuscript yet!”
The fact is every part of a manuscript has to stand alone, make its own sense. And, while an early scene in a memoir (say the one on page 17) would not provide all the answers that one would get later (say on page 85), it ought to satisfy the reader sufficiently so that the reader suspends questioning, doesn’t ask “What’s going on here?”
How does a coach / editor effectively and efficiently come to know a manuscript?
I have, on occasion, read the entire manuscript before starting to work on it, but I have not found this to be a cost-effective process for the client. Working portions at a time seems more functional. The segment-by-segment review allows the client to make revisions as s/he proceeds. Often an early problem runs throughout the manuscript, and a writer can make adjustments based on feedback received early on and not continue to pay for coaching / editing to correct the same problem as it appears over and over. In that way, I am reading only the revised text not the old text whose problems the writer has understood and learned to address. I can give immediate feedback on the revision and this results in efficiency and consistency.
Coaching and editing are a conversation
Yes, a coaching session is a conversation. Most frequently it is done over the telephone (but a Skype session is great, too) that is based on the manuscript that both the writer and I have on the computer screens before us. I have made my notes in an “editor” [track changes] function, and the writer either asks questions whenever the suggestions or corrections are not clear or makes counter remarks in support of what s/he has wanted.
Much of what appears as comments or notes on the manuscript are part of the editing function. Sometimes, however, these conversations are about theme or the portrayal of a specific character in the memoir. This is a broader conversation that can tweak a memoir for the better. This conversation veers towards coaching rather than editing—but the distinction is not necessarily clear.
Once we have reviewed all the comments, based on our discussion, I might ask if you would rather set yourself the task of reworking the memoir section we have just spoken about or would you rather send a new segment in for the next session
However, when a writer feels that s/he is very close to finishing a manuscript, an approach that focuses on editing rather than coaching may be called for. At this stage the work is to polish the text rather than to develop it—although there is an approach to editing that is called developmental editing.
Is this for you?
You can find out in a complimentary session which allows you to meet me and for me to meet you and for both of us to explore how/if working together will work.
After that we can begin in earnest with a mutual commitment.
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