Close your laptop, put down your pencil, let your manuscript breathe without you.
It's time to let a professional analyze the structure and development of your narrative.
To calibrate and clarify your words and ideas. Time to take your story
to that place not only intriguing to you, compelling to you, but to your readers.
Kita Mehaffy, MA, MFA
I am a writer, editor, teacher and dramaturg. Published in fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and critical writing, I also greatly enjoy dramatic writing and have had a number of plays produced. Any combination of words that inspire, entertain, enlighten, or prove thought-provoking draw me in.
Once I take on your work, it will be as important to me as it is to you to tease out why your manuscript works, and why it doesn’t. While respecting the uniqueness of your voice, your tone, and your intent, I will consider everything from the big picture of plot to the minutiae of word choice. My years of teaching, as well as my own education, gives me expertise in communicating these observations fully and succinctly. And as an editor for Clockhouse, a national literary magazine, for whom I read hundreds of pieces of fiction a year, it's clear to me what makes a piece of writing engaging.
I’ve lived in seven countries and traveled to more than 30. As a citizen of the world, I am incredibly interested and open to the many points of view in which we as writers, and as human beings on a complicated and diverse planet, approach a story. Show me a piece of yourself in your manuscript and I will help you bring it to the world.
Association of Writers and Writing Programs
"Kita's critiques are spot on. They're always thoughtful, with careful attention to detail. She not only helps a writer produce cleaner, more readable prose, but also richer stories and multi-dimensional characters."
-- Anne R. Allen, Author of the bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series, Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers, https://annerallen.com/
"As a new author, I cannot overstate the blessing it has been to work with Kita. Her knowledge of story mechanics and structure are invaluable during the editing process. Not just another set of eyes correcting grammar and punctuation, Kita sees to the heart of the story you’re trying to tell and shows you step-by-step how to make it more engrossing for the reader. She has an impeccable aptitude for digging into the tiniest details, illustrating the way narrative and character arcs come together, and asking the tough questions that a casual reader simply couldn’t. I have worked with Kita on multiple novels now, and have seen my own skills as a writer improve tremendously through her guidance. Whatever form your work takes, Kita will show you how to make it shine."
-- Darren Bury, Soquel, CA
"Kita has been providing invaluable feedback on my work for over four years. Her keen eye for detail and unfailing ability to quickly zero in on the heart of a story -- even when I've initially expressed it poorly -- has made me a better writer. And helped me to get published!"
-- Douglas Craig, Detroit, MI
What I Do
My first full length play, Blowing the Arrows, is a story of magic and redemption set in a circus. The title refers to the travel time between locations, when all the ingredients of a circus have to be trucked from one city to the next. Sometimes the process goes smoothly, sometimes not. To “blow the arrows” is to get lost between venues: elephants traveling east, clowns west.
The same can happen during the transference of creativity and vision--that which goes on in our heads and hearts as we devise our story--to words on paper. For a narrative to work, all the components have to be in the same place at the same time, or you don’t have a circus!
The Basic Components:
• CHARACTERS with identifiable voices and clear actions.
• SETTINGS that can be seen in the mind’s eye, whether an old woman’s living room in the Bronx or a colony on Jupiter.
• A PLOT that carries the reader forward like a boat on an ever-moving river, not like a leaf in an eddy. (Save this for your poetry!)
• TENSION that keeps the reader engaged, curious, anxious, hopeful, hooked.
• WORD CHOICE that is clear, sometimes imagistic, titillating, funny, particular, straight-forward.
WHAT DO I DO?
I will ask these questions of your manuscript:
Are your characters believable? Are they consistent and identifiable? Are they fascinating? Do I know enough about them to care? Are they in enough trouble (emotionally, spiritually or physically) that I absolutely have to find out what is going to happen to them?
Is the setting clear? When you move between settings, does the reader know immediately? (They hate to be lost.)
Is the plot complex enough to be captivating, but still developing apace? Does it run the risk of predictability?
Is there enough description that my senses are satisfied? Do you use metaphor on occasion so we get to tap into our poetic soul? Is your word choice clear?
Do you mix up the pace so that your reader doesn't fall into a stupor and decide to do the laundry instead of read?
Have you deleted all the redundancies?
Have you pushed your characters beyond their perceived limits?
Have you taken us to a place we both know, or can sense, and need to know more about?
Is all of this expected in a good piece of fiction? You bet!
WHAT ELSE DO I DO?
I will help you to hone the words, sentences, flow, arc and ideas of your manuscript so that it reads smoothly through the twists, turns and transitions that make up a beguiling tale! (Apologies. I do love alliteration!) I will make sure what you’ve said makes sense and how you’ve said it is in the appropriate grammar for your particular piece. I will keep an eye on your punctuation, although you will find that I have no attachment to complete sentences or standard punctuation, as long as what I read is understandable and any deviation from the standard is for a good reason.
I can provide a line edit, which involves a fine tooth comb, or I can read your piece as a whole and tell you what’s working and what’s not. For example: more recently, a client sent me his book at 45,000 words and asked for creative input in expanding it to the expected 80,000 words. I did that.
I edit literary, mainstream, and genre manuscripts.
Why You NEED An Editor
After writing, rewriting, and rewriting your book, objectivity is impossible. Like anything we’ve produced and nurtured ourselves, its scars are well hidden under the layers of time invested. Clarity becomes understandably fuzzy when all the versions of our book are still in our head. We're certain we’ve perfected the elements of characterization, story arc, tension, the ideal bread crumbs that draw a reader forward, because at some point during the process, all these things were in the manuscript. But two, five or ten revisions later, odds are that what we think we’ve written and what is on the page, are not the same thing.
An option is to give the manuscript to your best friend or sister to read. Perhaps you decide to read it piecemeal to your writing group. And you may well get some good advice. But what you won’t get is an analysis of the book in its entirety, with concrete suggestions of how to fix each issue, one by one. Encouragement is wonderful, but it won’t ensure that your book has all the elements it needs, has no fat, and ultimately provides the reader with a cohesive, complete, compelling, I-have-to-get-to-the-end-of-this-book read!
Editing is not free, but never getting your manuscript to a place where it becomes of interest to the reader who doesn’t already know and love you, makes editing by a professional an essential step towards publication.
And that’s what you want.
Services & Pricing
I EDIT literary, mainstream, and genre manuscripts.
I do not edit children's books, erotica, or horror.
Select from "Details" buttons below to find out about:
FREE EVALUATION ~ PROOF READING ~ STANDARD EDITING ~ HEAVY EDITING ~ FIRST 50 PAGES
For evaluation pages and manuscript: Times New Roman, 12-point, double spaced (including between paragraphs). No need to drop to half page at each new chapter. Page number (starting on the first page of the narrative) and last name at top right hand corner of each page.
In order for me to get some idea of what your manuscript needs, send me an attachment that includes:
• length (number of words)
• 500 words max synopsis including a description of main characters and primary conflict
• first 10 pages and 5 or 10 pages from the middle of the book
I’ll read this within 48 hours of receipt and we can discuss what you need at that point.
$3 / page
Your manuscript is in the final “proof” stage but still needs to be evaluated for typos in spelling, punctuation, and grammar before it goes to press. This does not include reviewing issues of story content (although if I spot a problem hiding in the weeds, I will certainly let you know).
If you’re trying to proofread your own manuscript, I recommend otherwise. As in all cases where you’ve read the piece multiple times, there’s a good chance your mind will “see” what you expect to be there. Of course there’s a period after that sentence! There’s always been a period after that sentence! Even when there isn’t. (It happens to us all!)
***If I have done the line and copyediting on your original manuscript, the fee for final proofreading will be substantially discounted.
Line/Content and Copyediting
$35 / hour
Averages $1500-$1900 for a 320 page / 80,000 word manuscript.
You’ve already mastered storytelling but need someone to make sure your prose and plot are tight. This is a comprehensive edit that includes a thorough look at character voice, motivations and actions; plot drive and consistency; clarity of language, point of view, and intention; elimination of redundancy; formatting and grammar. I will also look at issues of pacing, pulling out the fat, and accentuating that which keeps the reader in your grip. Includes some proofreading as necessary.
At no extra cost, this includes a one-hour consultation, after the editing, to discuss primary issues and potential fixes. It also includes an hour of follow-up line editing if you’d like me to take a look at particular revisions.
HEAVY Line/Content and Copyediting
$45 / hour
Averages $2240-$2400 for a 320 page / 80,000 word manuscript.
This is for the writer who needs a comprehensive content edit. I will look at structure, style, and authorial voice as well as that listed above. You will receive additional pages--as many as necessary--with expert coaching on the craft of writing and conveying the story you want and intend to tell.
At no extra cost, this includes an hour of consultation and 3 hours of follow-up editing on areas the writer has revised and would like particular help with.
(If money is an issue, we can also work out something where I do the heavy editing on the first half of the book and lighter editing for the second. You then have the examples necessary to apply to the rest of the book.)
The FIRST 50 Pages
This will include two readings.
The first pass will be a thorough but rapid read to identify any big-picture issues--those that would cause a reader to put down the book without finishing it. This includes setting the hook in the first few pages, clear conflict, clear characters with strong motivations, adequate pacing, a unique and captivating voice, a plot without holes or predictability. You will have the opportunity to work on issues identified prior to the second read.
On the second pass, the manuscript will receive a thorough and comprehensive line edit on all aspects of story and grammar, as listed above in line/content copyediting.