Editing & Teaching 

As an editor, and as a teacher of writing classes at City College of San Francisco (CCSF), I help you develop your prose, identify themes to explore, and discover, shape and deepen your key ideas. Through developmental editing, line editing,  copyediting, proofreading, and coaching, I support your ideas and abilities while helping you improve your projects.  (Definitions of Editing below).

My editing experience includes fiction (flash fiction, short stories, novels), nonfiction (memoir, essays), and academic subjects for a popular audience.

Editors often suggest changes to a manuscript ("More scenes!" "Put yourself into the memoir more!" "Simplify!" "Characters must be complex."), but don't teach a writer the skills to make the changes.  My philosophy of editing goes beyond suggesting what the manuscript might need and  includes tools and exercises to enable you to make the suggested  changes. I am particularly alert to  areas that require extra sensitivity, e.g.,  writing about class, race, disabilities, religion, LGBTQ issues, etc., and can help you navigate those areas.

I’m especially interested in new writers, indeed, in anyone who wants to improve their prose, in those who want to add depth to their writing, and in writers who are underrepresented in the publishing world.

As a writer, I know personally how hard it is to write well. I have great sympathy for the frustration, difficulty, and occasional terror of the revision process. I also know that, as you find what you are capable of and develop a better manuscript, there is great joy.

My own writing encompasses short stories, flash fiction, memoir and essays. 

Cost: I charge by the hour and provide edits on the hard copy and a letter with general and specific thoughts on the manuscript. A follow-up discussion on the phone or in person (depending on location) is free.

Contact: mjlouisell@gmail.com. We will then set a time to talk and decide if my services fit your needs.

Definitions of Editing:  Even writers are confused about what these terms mean. Categories often overlap and it can be hard to know which kind of editing you need. Generally, what writers are looking for (though they often don’t know what to call it) is developmental or line editing. Once you’ve worked on a manuscript to the point where it is nearly ready to publish, you have probably revised it several times and have had at least one professional edit. It’s at that point you need copyediting or proofreading. Even I, an editor, tend to think I’m ready for a copyedit before I am. It’s hard to see in your own work.

· Developmental Editing: A development editor considers the project as a whole, its themes and content, what it might encompass, what it’s missing, how it can be shaped and deepened, how the writer can organize it, how to clarify and strengthen the writer’s voice and style, and who the audience might be. Developmental editing usually occurs after a first draft, possibly a rough first draft.  (Writers sometimes ask, “What is voice?” A good definition is “the external manifestation, in language, of the writer’s sensibility.” (Paulette Bates Alden)

· Line Editing: A line editor works on shaping the prose to convey your ideas and story and identifies how well the components of writing are working – tone, voice, theme, clarity, and avoidance of excessive detail, repetition and oversimplification. A line editor identifies gaps or “holes” where the writer has avoided a crucial issue. On occasion, line editing includes navigating the difficulties of writing about sensitive areas, such as class, race, disabilities, religion, LGBTQ issues, etc., or, in the case of memoir and journalistic prose, issues of privacy and exposure.

· Copyediting: A copyeditor focuses on grammar and consistency of style and format. A copyeditor identifies instances of excessive detail or modifiers and overuse of common filler words. Copyediting is the next to the last edit in manuscript preparation.

· Proofreading: A proofreader is the last editor to search for mistakes in grammar, spelling, etc., before publication.

· Coaching: Coaching involves working with a writer on a regular basis, offering feedback, suggesting exercises, and providing support. Coaching may span all of the above editing categories but tends to concentrate on developmental and line editing.