Wildsmith Blog Tour

It is my turn on the blog tour for Wildsmith by Liz Flanagan and I am excited to share her guest post about the editorial process! It’s a brilliant insight into one of the stages of publication.

The Joy of Being Edited by Liz Flanagan

Photo by Matt Radcliffe

In this blog I’ll describe the creative and collaborative process of working with an editor – and suggest some editing tips to use with children

I believe that every author needs to be edited. Personally, I crave that expert pair of eyes on the story, when I’ve taken it as far as I can on my own. I might manage two or three drafts, and then I’m eager to share my work with that wonderful person who can see where the pace sags or where the meaning isn’t clear or what the ending might need to make it even more satisfying.

I was very lucky to work with experienced editor Tilda Johnson on the Wildsmith series. She’s got years of experience at top publishing houses – and it really shows!Tilda has that wonderful gift of talking an author through their story and asking just the right question at the right moment.

First Tilda reads the manuscript and sends me a report summarising her reaction. She also goes through the Word document and adds notes or questions. Then we have a Zoom editorial meeting – this is where the magic really happens. Tilda might explain a part of the story that still needs some work, but she doesn’t tell me how to fix it. Instead, she gently asks the perfect question.

Sometimes she might get a far-away gaze and ask, ‘hmmm, do you think it needs X?’ and then I might stare out of my window, thinking, and answer ‘hmmm, or it might be Y…?’ and then she’d say, ‘yes, because of Z’ and then I’d say, ‘oh, and then that leads back to A’ and in that wonderful creative tennis-match of back and forth, catching each other’s thoughts and whizzing them back again, together we would dream up a solution that was even better than either of us hoped. 

It’s a particular alchemy that needs both parties to be curious and open-minded and hopeful and not afraid of making mistakes or sounding silly. It’s a really wonderful process, based on trust, and one I definitely don’t take for granted. When I come out of a meeting with Tilda I feel all fizzy with ideas, really excited about making the edits we discussed. Sometimes one change that feels quite small can be the key which unlocks everything else. 

So, thank you Tilda for all your creative support and wonderful questions. I’m so grateful to you for helping me edit these books so they can be the best version of themselves when they go out into the world to meet their readers.

Some tips to use in the classroom when children are editing their work, remembering EVERYONE needs to edit & no one gets it right first time. These are all things I needed to practise while editing WILDSMITH: 

– Does the story start in the right (exciting) place? 

– Which words could you take out or change to make the story clearer? 

– Does your main character fix the problem at the peak of the story? (Clue: they need to be the one to save the day!)

Wildsmith: Into the Dark Forest, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton, is published by UCLan Publishing on 2nd February 2023, £7.99

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