Are you ready to uncover the incredible novel beneath the surface of your current draft?
You’re in the right place.
I’m a revision coach for writers of fiction and creative nonfiction. If you have a first draft, I can help you
I’m a former literary academic, and my time teaching English Literature at the University of Oxford, together with my struggles with writing a book, made me put coaching at the heart of my one-to-one work.
Hands-on attention to the words on the page, without the disempowering effect of the red pen. Without setting myself up as the authority on your book and your voice. My approach sits somewhere on the spectrum between developmental editing and book coaching, moving along that spectrum as seems best.
The process involves starting with the ‘big picture’ elements; the genre and positioning of the book in terms of an ideal reader. Then we move on to shaping the pace of the book, looking at its structural elements and making sure each act, sequence and scene is well shaped and therefore compelling. After the scenes are working we focus on style and tone, refining the expression and intensifying your voice.
Everything I do is in the context of a collaborative process. Our work is rooted in energising and profound conversations about your work and your vision. Depending on what you feel you’d most like to focus on, we can start with any of the packages below or you can work your way through all three (in which case, I’d advise doing them in order). If you’re unsure what’s the best route, don’t hesitate to get in touch and tell me about your work, and we’ll go from there.
Kitchen Table Sounding Board
One intensely focused two-hour session, either in person or on skype or phone. Probably fuelled by caffeine.
In advance of our meeting, I will read your entire manuscript, and you will complete a questionnaire about your challenges, your hopes, and your vision for the book.
When we meet we will discuss your book. This is my favourite thing about this work, and it’s hard to explain. I bring to the table my analysis, but most of all my intuition, about the book that is not quite on the page. This might be several books, and our discussion might be about picking which one you really want to write.
You’ll come away buzzing with targeted ideas for revision, with solutions to problems, excited to get stuck into rewriting.
I’ll write up a list of action points within 24 hours of our call and you will also receive a digital recording of the call (if you’re happy to be recorded).
You’ll also be able to access email support from me for one month after our call (or a specified month in the future, for example, during the summer holidays, if you’re a teacher).
Your investment: £130
Page turning; improve the shape and pace of your book
Improve the feel of your novel, it’s pace and shape.
This will help you meet your readers on the first page and guide them gently, swiftly or irresistibly through the entire book.
It begins with me reading your manuscript and analysing the shape of your book at the macro level. We will have a call where we discuss how you’ve structured your novel and how you could improve its architecture. We will ensure your acts are working well, in the best proportion to one another, and providing the elements and shape of
Once your acts are in place, I will analyse your opening three chapters and provide a commentary on their internal mechanisms from a scene construction point of view.
On a call together, we will take three further chapters and go through them in detail, checking how the scenes are constructed and brainstorming ways to improve them. You will continue with this scene-work, with email support for a further three months.
This is quite a technical, analytical approach to revision, but the creativity it stimulates is thrilling.
Your investment: £200
This is where we finally focus on the magic of sentences.
We will identify any unintentional stylistic elements you want to edit from your work, and distil and amplify your unique voice.
After an initial call to discuss your concerns and hopes for this phase, I will work on up to 10,000 words of your work and do a line-edit using Word’s track-changes feature. This is not a proof-read or a copyedit, but rather a hands-on literary analysis of how your language is working for or against you. Examples of things I might focus on are: adverbs, passive-voice, cliche, dialogue, and reading level. We will discuss the changes I suggest, making sure you feel happy with my suggestions and that they are in line with what you are trying to achieve, and you will receive three months of email support as you line-edit the rest of your work yourself.
Your investment: £130
Client Feedback & Testimonials
“I came to work with you because I suppose I was not sure whether my story worked. While I’ve had a few people read it, I’ve been conscious that most of them would miss probably all of the more subtle details. Would the novel still work if they didn’t understand these things? Would they be prepared to re-read it and see what they missed? The other challenge was knowing how far I could push the unconventional ideas. Overall, I was looking for was an honest appraisal of the novel with an eye on what grabs the reader. Basically, get an idea of:
- What makes it good, and
- What’s getting in the way of it being better?
I have to admit before we started work I suppose I was a bit apprehensive that you would be recommending a wholesale restructuring. Instead I’ve come away with a very targeted set of areas to look at in terms of clarifying to the reader where their attention needs to be; the essential action, the core emotion etc. as well as equipping them to know what to look for and delivering the payoff both intellectually (the non-patronising ‘pat on the head’!) and emotionally.
I’ve tried to develop a thicker skin when it comes to even well-intentioned negative comments, it’s still hard not to get defensive but I think I’m improving. That said, you handled discussing the weaker areas in my work really well- such as the teenage voice- by coming to it from the solution of changing the time setting. Because you had obviously read the novel really closely, I didn’t feel I needed to or wanted to defend my initial decision. You understood what I was going for, and you could see how I could work around the obstacle.
From our previous literary discussions I knew I would be getting the viewpoint of someone who wouldn’t be bewildered by the referential stuff, or why I’d put it there (beyond shameless showing off, to which I plead guilty on all charges). I didn’t quite know what viewpoint you’d come from, so it was a relief when you’d sussed out the tone precisely as I’d intended it. In a lot of ways, this is my attempt to create a particular sensation that I get from my favourite fiction, films and music. From there, it meant I had confidence that any suggestion you made would be sensitive to this idea. And so it proved!
Another worry was my own over-willingness to talk at great length about the writing and how I am more than likely to amble off at a tangent or rapidly skip between ideas, which you coped with magnificently. Over the years I’ve tried to get better at detecting when my audience’s eyes are starting to glaze over, so it was a pleasure not to have to worry about it. I’d say your impressive tolerance for this is a major selling point.
In fact, this was one of the ways you helped. You provided a sounding board where you were comfortably following complex points of plot, tone and characterisation, then feeding that back in a way that I could see for myself the significance of what I had told you.
As I’ve said above, having a clear set of targeted points to work on has been a big help, not least because I can also see where I’m going to take the sequel.
Roger Haines (Kitchen Table Session)
“George, I can’t thank you enough for the advice and support you’ve given me in redrafting the book. You’ve helped with so much, but I think the real breakthrough for me was when you helped me identify the genre more precisely. That transformed the structure and also made me see the characters more objectively. The book is so much stronger now and you’ve given me the confidence to embark on self-publishing. I would never have got there without your vision and analysis. Thanks so much.”
Sarah Haven (Kitchen Table Session and Page Turning)
“What a pleasure to work with George. If you’re a writer currently sharing your work with only a trusted few, or if you’ve had the misfortune of being truncated and twisted by an over-subscribed, inattentive editor, then I highly recommend you get in touch with George. I found my initial concerns (would I be patronised? Bamboozled? Sent on a goose chase?) totally disproved.
Jay (one on one coaching)