I’ve hooked up with the extremely talented editor John Hudspith on numerous occasions, and thought it about time I blew his trumpet – so to speak – so I invited him over for a natter.
John’s editing services
LW – Welcome, John. I’m seeing your name a great deal on Amazon, credited for editing this, that and some of the other. And I see your name cropping up again and again on Twitter and Facebook with writers saying good things about you. You must be doing something right.
JH – So it would seem. I’m grateful for all the positive feedback. And thanks for having me over.
LW – I’m singing your praises too; you have a talent for turning average writing into great writing. How do you do that? Any advice for the writer himself?
JH – As with any craft, the more you practice the more intelligent your tools become. If you want to produce good writing you should read, read, read, every genre and discover the conventions and expectations and variations of style. The more you discover, the better your own writing will become.
LW – What one thing do you love most about the writing world?
JH – That no matter what the writing, be it a short, novel, poem – the writer births his soul and imprints it forever.
LW – And what bugs you?
JH – Boring writing related interviews.
LW – Oh!
JH – …that and `writers` who don’t care.
LW – Don’t care?
JH – …about their work, the presentation, the beauty, the need to toil to produce good writing. So many authors let their work fly without due attention.
LW – Do you mean self-publishing? Many of those who self-publish are continuously slated for bad writing.
JH – Not at all. There are some magnificent gems on the eBook shelves. I mean mainstream as well as self-publishing. Too much ill-thought crud is coming from all sides. Glaring plot holes, predictable rehashed formulaic mush, driven by the need for greed.
LW – So what would you like to see?
JH – More care. You know, shove it in a drawer for a few months before reading, editing, improving the reader’s experience – but pennies get in the way of pride. I guess that if editors came free, we’d all have one, ay?
LW – Good point. So what about those writers who can’t afford a hired help?
JH – Learn the craft. It’s all there, waiting.
LW – Is it really that easy, to just `learn the craft`?
JH – Yes it is. Find a peer review website that suits you and, as with any craft, take a few years to read, review, and learn from helpful others. Absorb the nuances of POV, the terrors of head-hopping, the importance of word selection, of how one poorly-chosen word can turn a scene off; of how to make that psychic connection with reader and play inside his mind. Embrace all that head on and see your writing take off. And it’s all for free!
LW – You’re right, John. It is all there for the taking. What do you prefer working on, shorts or novels?
JH – The challenge: to improve story by bringing it to the fore, by filling in plot holes, making characters believable, is the same, be it for a short story or novel. It would be easy to say that shorts are perhaps more welcome but I suppose that’s because I get my fix a whole lot quicker.
LW – Fix?
JH – That sense of achievement, when it’s all done and dusted and the writer is proud of their now shiny piece and they walk away not just with improved writing, they walk away a better writer.
LW – Then would you agree that it’s all down to pride? I mean, a writer should show pride rather than hear till bells?
JH – Absolutely. Although I do understand the unavoidable commercial machine, but flooding the marketplace does make it harder for the gems to sparkle.
LW – In a nutshell, what are the most common edits you find yourself dealing with? Can that even fit in a nutshell?
JH – Pretentiously purple prose, pace and flow, over-writing, dialogue, character mood and action, and plot holes/continuity errors. Strip that lot away and the work shines!
LW – Why should a writer pick you as opposed to another editor?
JH – They shouldn’t. They should choose an editor who, by means of providing a free sample, can show what they can do for you and your work. If said editor doesn’t connect, doesn’t leave you drooling – choose one who does.
LW – You seem very passionate about the `craft`?
JH – Few writers experience the trench depths of writing where nuance dances and soul resides; that stage of psychic connection where story plays. We should teach our children more of this, but then where would our governments be without their drones?
LW – Quite! You mentioned obtaining a free sample, how does a writer go about getting this?
JH – Submission details are on my website, but simply send me three chapters, synopsis if available, along with a brief note about yourself and the inspirations and aspirations for the work and I will provide an analysis along with sample edits which hopefully will result in copious drooling.
LW – And this is free?
JH – Even the drooling.
LW – What do you charge for editing?
JH – There is no set charge. Each writer is unique and at a different level of understanding of the craft, therefore each work is estimated accordingly.
LW – What simple advice would you give any writer?
JH – The writing craft is vaster than infinite, deeper than bottomless; the writing craft is man himself, his evolving imprint, a testament to his gifts, yet, even though the craft comes free, costing nothing to learn from helpful others, we continually gallop before we can crawl. Read lots, discover more and take pride.
LW – Well said. I’ve read and reviewed both of your Kimi books and I must comment on the plots for both. Quite simply the plots are awesome, unpredictable, and keep you hooked until the end. (Folk, read my reviews here for Kimi’s Secret the first in the Kimi adventures, and here for Kimi’s Fear.) So, John, how on Heart do you manage to keep the plots so intense?
JH – Thanks! A satisfying plot necessitates fervent planning, lots of digging, and an endless supply of Post-it notes. Putting effort into a story’s skeleton is the simple answer. Many writers turn their back on plot holes and pretend they don’t exist. If you can’t fill the hole, don’t write the story.
LW – Wise words for Wise Words – Thank you, John.