What does it mean to assassinate my darlings, or how can an editor can be my story’s best friend?

Novelist William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” Okay, so that’s a bit of a scary proposition, especially when we work ridiculously hard on our manuscripts. But don’t discount Faulkner’s wisdom just yet.

Darlings take many forms. They’re not just our beloved characters. Darlings masquerade as lovely-but-distracting descriptions. They are witty lines that we love, but that a young character might not actually say. Darlings are saggy scenes we spend a long time writing, but they aren’t moving our plots forward. Darlings come in endless shapes and sizes, but they all sabotage the very thing we are after—connecting our reader to the heart of our stories.

Through the editorial process, I will guide you in identifying writerly darlings and other areas of weakness so that your story is front and center. I’ll also provide feedback on what’s working and any concerns you have.


photo: Mari Helin-Tuominen

What will my feedback look like?

After reading your full middle-grade or young-adult manuscript, I’ll compile your feedback. My editorial approach is to throw everything at you but the kitchen sink. I will focus on larger considerations, known as developmental edits. Such considerations will include plot, scenes, character, worldbuilding, pacing, voice, and much more. Though I will not line edit or proofread your manuscript, I will draw attention to anything glaring. If sentence structure can be revised to improve the overall flow of your story, I will discuss that, as well.

Feedback will come in two forms. Not only will I place comments in the margins of the manuscript for you to review, I will provide you with an extensive editorial letter. I will also offer you a follow-up phone call so we can discuss feedback and a course of action going forward. Additional phone calls are available as you work your way through the revision process.

One thing that sets my editorial style apart is that I’ll take the time to guide you through the *why* of any considerations I suggest so that making changes makes complete sense. I want you to be able to use what you learn from this editing process and apply it in all your writing going forward. Finally, I’ll give you, the author, room to help your story be the best version of itself. As an editor, I’m not prescriptive and I don’t put my hands inside your manuscript. Rather, I’ll be the facilitator that supports you through the process of revision.


photo: Padurariu Alexandru

How much does it cost?

My editorial rate is $0.01/word. It’s advisable for you to contract me to read and offer feedback on your first chapter before we work through more of the manuscript. That way, I get a sense of your story and you get a preview of my editorial approach. If we move forward with either a portion of the manuscript or the full manuscript, half of the project fee is due up front and the remaining half is due upon delivery.


What if I’m not quite ready for an edit?

Is your middle-grade or young-adult fiction manuscript not quite there yet? Are you uncertain about where the novel should start? Is your novel sagging in the middle? Having trouble tackling the ending? As a writing coach, I will work with you to customize a plan to get you through any writing obstacles you may be experiencing. From helping you explore facets of your novel through writing exercises to offering strategies to overcome challenges, coaching can be just the form of support a writer needs to see their draft all the way through.

Coaching is typically done quite flexibly. The amount of writing submitted, the schedule for submitting, and the type of writing being submitted can all be tailored to fit your needs. Feedback will come in both the margins of your manuscript and an editorial letter. Phone calls are another option for discussing your writing needs.

Coaching is a valuable one-on-one experience and because the needs of every writer vary, rates for this service depend on individual needs. Please contact me at info[at]thedarlingassassin.com for more information.