Hey guys! It’s been a while since I posted, mainly because when I haven’t been working I’ve been out at book signings, and when I haven’t been at book signings I’ve been writing. Crazy, but awesome at the same time!
But I’m especially excited for this next post, because today I have a special guest. You’ve heard from an author, so I figured it was time to see things from an editor’s point of view. Because, as you know, it’s not just the writer that makes a book happen; behind every good writer is a talented editor. Maybe this post will give the aspiring writers amongst you some helpful tips. So without further ado, let’s get started!
Thank you so much for joining me today! Can you introduce yourself?
Sure can! I’m Sarah Ruiz, mother, writing coach, and developmental editor (oh, and a writer myself, too!). I’m originally from South Florida, but live in Raleigh with my husband and two kids. While my own writing is adult contemporary with a focus on young mothers, I work with clients all over the genre and category spectrum. As a writing coach, I empower other moms to pursue their writing dreams through education and accountability.
When did you decide to pursue your passion for writing?
I always wanted to be a writer (typical, I know), and truthfully I always worked at it sporadically in one way or another. I wrote a short story collection in undergrad for my honors thesis, but after graduation only produced two or three short stories. It wasn’t until my daughter was born two years later (2015) that I became much more serious about my writing and what I really wanted: to write a novel. Since then, I’ve gotten my MFA in fiction writing (at NC State), wrote and revised my first novel, landed a literary agent, started my coaching and editing business, and am currently drafting novel #2.
As an editor, you work with writers with anything from looking over the manuscript to writing the query letter. What project is your favorite to work on, and why?
My favorite editing projects are query letters! They are like a puzzle for me, and while most authors despise them, I enjoy crafting them. I love to see how precise and catchy I can make a story.
My favorite non-editing project is coaching. There’s nothing like working 1-on-1 with a writer in the drafting phase and guiding them through the process of writing a book. I get to read their work as they write it, send them weekly craft exercises, and cheer them on through weekly check-in phone calls or emails. It’s really an exciting experience.
Editors see a manuscript in all of its rough draft glory; how can you spot when the story is a solid one? What is your favorite genre to edit?
As a developmental editor, my goal isn’t the same as a line editor or copyeditor. What I’m looking for is satisfaction: the characters feel real, their trajectory is believable, the stakes are high, and the ending has a great payoff. I love it when I read a book and can’t think of any other the plot could turn out—not because there aren’t other options, but because the one the author chose was so effective.
How important is word count? Every genre has its own standards; should writers follow those, or are they more arbitrary?
When it comes down to whether a wordcount works or not, it really isn’t about the wordcount itself. What really counts is the pacing. You should be able to articulate why each scene in your novel is necessary. Is there anything you can cut without making the novel less effective?
And for those with shorter wordcounts: Where can you add some character development? What parts of the plot may be confusing because they aren’t fully explained? Is your character grappling with his/her demons enough?
But overall, I think it is safest to stay within guidelines, but if you have to be over or under to best serve the story, then the story comes first!
What is the one thing that you wished writers knew?
You can write your novel in ten minutes a day. Seriously, I talk about this all the time on my website. You don’t have to write for hours on end to be a writer.
If writers would like to get in touch with you, what’s the best way?
I’m pretty active on all my social media accounts! (Facebook, Instagram), but the surest way is to message me through the contact form on my website! www.sarahruizwrites.com
And there you have it! Special thanks to Sarah for sharing her insights; hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. I mean, writing just ten minutes a day? I think I can handle that! 😉 Anything here surprise you?