Editing the story -- coaching the storyteller
Laura’s own experience as a writer is what I value so highly in her editing work. When she spots a story logic problem or a character inconsistency, she can see that in the project’s larger context. She recognizes writer placeholders, the “it’ll do for now” fixes I’ve slipped in and hoped no one will notice. I never get them past her. But she’s also then happy to help me work out the deeper solution; she’s a boffo question asker – the kind of questions that I either haven’t thought to ask myself or have been resisting. She’s been in my shoes and faced the same problems, so she never looks at a first draft with final draft eyes or vice versa. She encourages me when I need cheering in the early phases and pushes me to polish and commit in the final ones. She doesn’t let me sacrifice clarity for a joke or leave in something muddy that brings down the quality of my piece. And yet I always feel better about myself as a writer after our problem-solving sessions, precisely because she’s found a way to draw those deeper answers and truths out of me. And I won’t lie: she makes me laugh. I’m constantly amazed at how productive we are together, and I credit a great deal of that to her relaxing us both enough to silence the devilish inner critics and allow us to access our most creative, risk-taking selves. She never condescends. Nor does she rewrite my work, claiming to know best, though I often get a lot of great ideas from her pitches. She manages that balance of deep knowledge and genuine humanity that brings out my best work every time. I respect her as a professional, and I love her company as a person. I want a facilitator, a truth-teller who is out to nurture, not crush, me, and still push me to be the best I can. That’s Laura.
First and foremost, working with Laura is fun. She’s smart and challenging and always encouraging. Laura will tell you what’s not working, but she will also tell you what is. The thing I appreciate most about her feedback is it’s designed to address fundamental problems first. You’ll learn how to fix story problems, characterization, voice - the “big picture” issues - first. This is critical to avoid wasting time rewriting and perfecting words, sentences, or whole scenes that you may end up cutting later. As a part-time writer with a full-time job, working efficiently is really important to me. It’s also inspiring to work with Laura. She makes you believe in yourself and your story. She does this by helping you develop new skills throughout the editing process, so you’re not just accepting a critique, you’re learning how to become a better writer. I consider Laura a mentor and a friend, an editor I recommend with the highest confidence.
I’ve worked with many people in my writing life. Some tend to focus on specifics while others look for broad purposes, and in Laura I’ve found a rare insight into both. She asks pointed questions that circle around and narrow in on a character’s precise motivation. Sometimes her critiques are exacting, though she takes the time to explain her approach and clearly defines her perspectives instead of simply deleting without a reason. Laura edits stories, but in my experience she does more: she molds people into better writers. Laura Perkins enjoys the entire writing process, and it truly shows in the thought and detail she applies to every manuscript.
Laura’s in-depth understanding of the craft of writing has been an incredible asset to me and my story. Her life experience and education give her an intelligent understanding of the literary world, high end competitive business, sports, politics, drama, and more. The brainpower she brought to my project was mind blowing.When she started editing my chapters, each was at different levels of imperfection. The first chapter got me a lot of interest and a literary agent. People liked it, and I didn’t think there was much to do. I figured she could get the feel of the book, I could see her ideas and input, and we would do a round of polishing. Boy, was I wrong. Her insight and understanding of structure, theme building, character, and pace, gave my story a better flow, higher intensity and deeper dramatic effect. I loved it. I also hated it, because I knew I would never be happy with less. We hashed out important marketing issues my agent wanted, with the themes, and human drama of the story. My agent was thrilled with the results.Laura is not squeamish or limited in her willingness to go to the dark side and back for the sake of the work. She’s an incredible writer, and I am lucky to be able to benefit and learn from such a talent. She’s also a really cool person, which makes hours of work together, not just bearable, but a damn good time.