Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jill Grinberg on Her Editorial Process

As part of our fall programming, agent Jill Grinberg presented a workshop last Friday on the revision work she does with her clients. Attendees were treated to an inside view of the editorial process based on case studies, and they walked away with ideas for taking a fresh look at their own work.

Jill has found it valuable to ask what the author’s intention is: “Asking questions is the most productive way into editorial dialogue.” Among the questions she has asked her authors:
    •    What do you want to accomplish with this book?
    •    What is the larger meaning to be found in your novel’s pages?
She finds that writers sometimes have niggling concerns that they don’t want to address (and that they are afraid they can’t fix.) A trusted reader can help untangle most concerns, and Jill gave a shout-out to the importance of critique groups.

Among the “big picture” problems she walked attendees through were:
1)    Stories that did not have a big enough “reveal” (payoff) at the end.
2)    Stories without a hook big enough to stand out in a crowded market.
3)    Plots and subplots that were not tied together by an overall meaning (theme).
4)    Books that were not appealing to a wide enough audience.
5)    Characters who were not fully developed.

Although some attendees were surprised at the amount of editorial work necessary after getting an agent, Jill said she edits to sell, not to make the work perfect. Her authors will still have much more editing after the work is sold.

Jill’s talk had something for writers at all stages in their careers. Her agency prefers snail-mail submissions.

Contributed by Chinook Street Team member Lois Brandt

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