Can I just say that the moment Arianne Lewin, executive editor at Putnam, started speaking at the SCBWI Miami conference I decided she was brilliant?
Not only is she down to earth and funny, but she has heaps of knowledge to share in an easygoing, natural way. She has also edited an incredible line of books including authors Cinda Williams Chima, Whoopi Goldberg, Laura Numeroff, and Julia Ann Peters.
So enough of me chattering away!
Here are some of the notes that I furiously typed down:
• Writing is revising!
• Think large-scale-big-picture revision first and then whittle down to the minor stuff
• Her job is not to take over a book but to make the best out of it
• A full revision would take about 8 hours
• If a book needs a big overhaul, she needs to make sure she thinks she can get out of the author what needs to be done
• Important things: voice, theme, quality, and good concept
• She can help you with the plot if you have a good voice, but can’t fix bad writing
• She likes to talk to writers before she acquires a book; she also has to show the author that she understands what the author is trying to do
• She’ll read a book two times before she begins editorial notes; she uses ‘track changes’- and then puts together an editorial letter (average 7 pages)
• She usually doesn’t read pitches
• Look for agents that are like minded to your work
• Keep in mind that a million editors will edit a manuscript a million different ways
How to Self Revised
– The experience of a book is more engaging than recapping it in narrative summary
– Scene is more engaging- take your readers right there participating in it, believing it
– Real time and watching the events unfold- gains the reader’s trust
– You want the reader to be put into the action and drawn into the story
– Showing something in scene allows you to make it deeply personal
– Trust the reader; let the reader draw their own conclusions
– Make sure your beginning doesn’t start too soon- you shouldn’t just jump into the portal but build that anticipation and characters