Become a Writer Today

The Craft of Self-Editing with Tiffany Yates Martin

August 22, 2022 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
The Craft of Self-Editing with Tiffany Yates Martin
Show Notes Transcript

How can you balance the analytical act of editing with the creative act of writing? 

I spend a lot of time thinking about editing and considering the best ways to take a draft and turn it into something publishable. 

That's probably because I spend some of the working days editing the work of other writers and because I've worked as a sub-editor for several newspapers over the years. 

I learned from editors far more talented than I am about how to take an early draft and turn it into something you can publish in a professional publication. 

This week, I caught up with a talented developmental editor. Her name is Tiffany Yates Martin. She runs FoxPrint Editorial and is also the author of Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing.

Tiffany has spent nearly thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, to name a few.

In the interview, I explained to Tiffany how I currently approach editing or self-editing first drafts of manuscripts and narrative nonfiction. She gave me a few practical tips to help me improve next time.

We also discussed how to separate every editor's analytical approach. As an editor, it's your job to figure out what to take out, what to clarify, what to condense, what to improve on, and how to balance all of that with the creative act of writing.

I started to explain how I sometimes consider using a template like Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet or the three-act structure when preparing a manuscript to write. Tiffany offered a different approach that could help me embrace the creative act of writing with the analytical act of editing.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • The craft of self-editing
  • The importance of soliciting feedback
  • The best ways to get feedback from other readers


Visit Tiffany at:

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If you enjoyed the show please leave a review on Apple. And if you have any questions you can find me on Twitter @BryanJCollins

Thanks for listening!

Tiffany: What I try to do with intuitive editing, with my approach to editing, is help authors take the story that they wanna tell, dig down into the heart of it, and grow it organically from the inside out.


Welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan: How can you balance the analytical act of editing with the creative act of writing? Hi, there. My name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast. 

I spend a lot of time thinking about editing and considering the best ways to take a draft and turn it into something that’s publishable. That’s probably because I spend some of the working day editing the work of other writers who publish articles or write articles for the sites that I run. It’s also because I’ve worked over the years as a subeditor for a number of newspapers and I learned from editors far more talented than I am about how to take an early draft and turn it into something that you can publish in a professional publication. And while writing my own books, I learned a lot about the craft of editing from talented developmental, copy, and line editors. 

Now this week, I caught up with a talented developmental editor. Her name is Tiffany Yates Martin. She runs FoxPrint Editorial, and she’s also the author of Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. In the interview, I explained to Tiffany how I currently approach and think about editing or self-editing first drafts of manuscripts and narrative nonfiction, and she gave me a few practical tips which could help me improve next time around. We also talked about how to separate the analytical approach that every editor needs, because as an editor, it’s your job to figure out what to take out, what to clarify, what to condense, and what to improve on, and how to balance all of that with the creative act of writing. And I started to explain how I sometimes consider using a template like Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet or the three-act structure when preparing a manuscript to write and Tiffany offered a different approach which could help me embrace I suppose the creative act of writing with the analytical act of editing. 

Now, I hope you enjoy this week’s interview with Tiffany Yates Martin. One other takeaway for me was the importance of soliciting feedback and later on in the interview, we talk about the best ways to get feedback from other readers. Tiffany, on her website, FoxPrint Editorial, has a resource that you can use which will help you solicit the right kind of feedback for your manuscript so you can turn it into something that you’re happy with, something that you feel confident about when the time comes to press Send, Submit, or Publish. 

Now, I hope you enjoy this week’s interview with Tiffany all about the craft of self-editing. If you do, please consider leaving a short review on the iTunes store or you could share the show with another friend or another writer, because more reviews, more ratings, and, of course, more shares will help more people find the Become a Writer Today Podcast. 

Now, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Tiffany. 


Bryan: Welcome to the show, Tiffany.

Tiffany: Thanks for having me, Bryan.

Bryan: You were telling me before I hit Record that editing is your passion. A lot of writers I know are in fear of their editor so could you describe how you got into editing and what is it that drew you to editing over other types of writing?

Tiffany: That’s a good question. I started — actually, I’ve always written — I started, I was just going through an old box the other day and I found my autobiography about me, I wrote It by Myself, that’s the title.

Bryan: Nice.

Tiffany: Good piece of work. And that was like I had to have been, I don’t know, third grade when I wrote that. And I always loved to write and did stories, but I went into acting as a career because I thought that’s what I was going to do and I moved to New York and I was living there working as a waiter, like most actors, and wanted to find something that I could not only use to possibly build a fallback career with but also something that I could travel with. I was doing a lot of regional theater, and I didn’t know that freelance copy editing was a thing until, of all places, I saw an ad in the classifieds in the New York Times and answered it and started working as a copy editor for most of, back then, this was the early 90s, the Big Six, which was a lot of what publishing was back then, it’s hard to remember that now, but that was sort of — there were some smaller presses but the Big Six really dominated so I worked for most of them. I did that for probably 12 or 15 years and it never really occurred to me you could make a living as a writer so I never really pursued that. And then I transitioned, maybe a dozen years ago or so I started doing developmental editing, but in between that. I had also started working as a journalist when I left New York and then eventually started writing novels, which I write under a pen name, Phoebe Fox, so I do both, but it was funny about, I don’t know, I guess right around the time I started developmentally editing, I realized that as much as I love writing and always have done it, editing is my calling. It’s my passion.

Bryan: When you say editing, there are many different types of editing and you can specialize in particular genres. What type of editing did you work on first?

Tiffany: The copy editing was how I started and that’s mostly technical stuff, grammar, punctuation, spelling, consistency, fact checking, that was back — love telling this story because it makes me sound like a dinosaur but this was back before the internet. 

Bryan: So it was a lot more work to fact check and copy edit.

Tiffany: Oh, yeah. It meant like a day at the New York Public Library with reams of paper and sitting at the reference desk trying to find every resource you could imagine manually, just do that for an entire day and then I’d have to come and plug it all back in into the manuscript on actual galleys, the pages, and put it in with my red pencil. So when that went electronic, that was a lot easier when the internet came along.

Bryan: And were these nonfiction works or fiction works that you were doing?

Tiffany: Back then I did everything. I did literally everything. I got into a tear once where I was getting more World War Two books than I knew what to do with so I became sort of a reluctant World War Two buff, but I did a lot of fiction. I was fortunate to work with a lot of big authors. I got to copy edit Pat Conroy, Walter Mosley, Jennifer Weiner. You know, you’re a cog in the wheel kind of as a freelance copy editor, most of the authors rarely even know about you or who you are, you just do the work, but it was heady stuff for me, you know, those were our rock stars as writers and creatives. And then when I transitioned into — so that’s one type of edit, and then you might also have heard of a line edit, which is sort of encompassed in what I do now, that’s really focusing on the prose itself. And then the developmental edit, which is what my main career and business is, focuses on the big picture elements of the story from the ground up, everything from character plot stakes, how well is the structure holding together, is the point of view solid, where can the story be strengthened, what development might there be to do what needs to be clarified, and you’re kind of creatively partnering with the author. It’s the author’s voice and it’s the author’s vision. I always joke that I’m the midwife. I didn’t make the baby and I’m not gonna keep the baby but I will help you deliver that baby.

Bryan: When I was learning about developmental editing, I started coming across ideas like the three-act structure, the hero’s journey, and other storytelling frameworks. Are there any frameworks or ideas on what makes a good book or a good manuscript that has influenced how you approach a manuscript?

Tiffany: Yes. This is kind of the heart of everything I do as a developmental editor. My book, as you said a moment ago, is called Intuitive Editing, and that was born out of the fact that there are so many things written, so many schools of thought, systems for writing, six-stage plot structure, you named a couple of them, save the cat, the three-act plot structure. Everybody’s got an approach that are all valuable and many of them have incredibly helpful things for authors, but, to me, there are tools in a toolbox and what I was seeing as an editor a lot was that writers would sort of dedicate themselves to these systems to the detriment of organic creativity. So, in other words, they were, it felt to me like, you know, like I would get a manuscript from somebody who would say, “I faithfully did the hero’s journey in this story,” or, “I faithfully applied the save the cat structure in this story so it should be letter perfect,” and even if it was, it doesn’t have the spark that makes it unique, that gives it voice, that brings it to life. Often, you’re trying to take this external structure and thrust it onto your story. What I try to do with intuitive editing, with my approach to editing, is help authors take the story that they wanna tell, dig down into the heart of it, and grow it organically from the inside out. So that’s the long answer. The short answer to your question is I think most of those systems have really valuable information in them but I think it’s kind of the author’s job to read widely, take all of that, put it in your toolbox, and then pull out the tool you need when you need it rather than trying to use a drill for everything, let’s say.

Bryan: Correct me if I’m wrong, but what you’ve described sounds more like the approach of pantser whereas a plotter would take one of those frameworks and slot in the different scenes and plan their book in advance.

Tiffany: Yes and no. I mean, so the editing of — how you approach editing and revision doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with how you decide to write the story. My concern with following those systems really slavishly is that it almost becomes dogmatic. I think they’re a wonderful guide, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying ignore those things. But I just had this conversation with an author the other day who was very faithfully trying to apply everything she’s learned and she’s very widely studied and very widely read about craft but she was so wrapped around the axle of trying to do everything perfectly that she was almost losing sight of the story, what the heart of the story was, the reason she wanted to tell it, what the characters were trying to achieve. At its core, all story is characters that we care about who passionately care about something for which there are something large to lose or be won in the attainment or failing to attain it, and in the course of trying to achieve it, they are materially changed, whether that’s internally or externally. That’s the story. So if you’re following that basic framework where you have a character in pursuit of something they desperately want that matters for a tangible reason and they are changed in the course of trying to pursue it, you’ve got a story. If you wanna hit your beats, just like save the cat, just like hero’s journey, whatever it is you subscribe to, great, but if you’re trying to force your story into a certain mold, I think you can often hamstring yourself and strip it of everything that really brings it to life and makes it yours. They coexist. I don’t think these ideas are mutually exclusive.

Bryan: When you’re working with a client and they’ve just finished the draft of their manuscript and they say to, you know, “Tiffany, I think it’s ready for a developmental edit,” is there anything that you’d like them to do first before they start to work with a developmental editor?

Tiffany: Yes. Sometimes, particularly right after NaNoWriMo, I’ll get a slew of inquiries about working together with people who have just finished their first draft.

Bryan: In a month. 

Tiffany: It’s tempting, right? 

Bryan: Yeah. It’s a great competition but it is quite hard to get something that you can send to somebody in a month. You might have a really rough draft.

Tiffany: Right. The chances are, when you’ve been writing fast and furious for a month, even if you haven’t, even if you’ve been working on your first draft for months and months or years, a first draft is a first draft. A lot of authors edit as they go so it may be a little more polished, but you’re not gonna get the most bang for your buck. Hiring a professional editor can be incredibly expensive. It’s also, as one author I’ve worked with memorably put it, it’s a literary root canal. So you’re gonna really dig deep. You’re going to get the most effective use of all of your resources, your time, your money, all the effort you’re gonna put into doing this if you have gotten that story as tight and polished and complete as you possibly can before you hire a professional. It should mean doing your own editing and revision, we can talk about the difference between them in a second because they’re not quite the same thing. It may mean getting beta readers, it may mean having critique partners and doing — you may have done revision after revision before you even work with an editor, when you may do a deeper dive than you’ve done yet. I work with publishers as well as directly with authors, and with publishers, we’ll frequently do three full developmental edit passes. So authors will often — sometimes they’ll really restructure it, really keep digging and developing, and this is after they have worked it on their own and it was good enough to get the contract in the first place. So, to me, the main work of the craft of what we do isn’t in the drafting part, that’s the first base camp on Everest, I always say. That’s just the melody line. Editing and revision is where you fully orchestrate it.

Bryan: I’ve a couple follow-up questions on that, but before we do, what do you see is the difference between editing and revision?

Tiffany: So they’re lumped in together and often used interchangeably, but editing is what I do. The shortcut I always say is editing is assessing, revising is addressing. So editing is looking at what you have — well, let me ask you this actually. When you revise your own work, when you go into edit it after you’ve completed a draft, how do you approach that?

Bryan: Oh, good question. So I wrote a book during the pandemic and the way I approached it was to set it aside for a few weeks then I exported it to a PDF and read through it on an iPad, away from where I write, and just wanted to see if the overall story flew or float from one act to the next and if there was a kind of a nice arc in the book, and I tried to look at that first before I went in to fix the clumsy sentences or to clarify research. So I went through three passes. The first pass was the overall structure, the second pass was clarifications, and the third pass was the grammar mistakes and so on. Then I hired an editor. 

Tiffany: So I don’t know if someone taught you that system but that is almost exactly what I recommend authors do. But what many authors do, what you’re describing, that first part where you’re reading it, taking it all in, that’s the editing part. Until you see what you actually have on the page, how well your vision has made it onto the page, you can’t know what needs fixing, and when authors do go in and begin addressing things, often, they start where you finished, which is make the prose pretty, because it’s sexy, right? I always joke that’s the sexy fun part so everybody wants to do that first, but that’s just polishing. I always use a house metaphor, if you’re building a house, you’re not gonna hang the curtains before you’ve got the drywall up and the windows installed. So, what a lot of authors do is finish their draft and then they go back to the beginning and they start polishing the prose and they’ve skipped over that step that you described where you sat down and read that entire thing just like a novel just to see what you have. That’s the first step I do as an editor even. When I get a manuscript, I read it like a novel. I don’t even start working on it. Because I need to plant my feet in it. I need to get a sense of what the whole big picture is, what I see is what the author is trying to achieve, what their vision might be, and then how can I help them affect that as clearly and impactfully on the page as possible. So then the second pass I would do sounds like what you’re doing in your three passes which I start with the big picture stuff. I’m looking at structure, I’m looking at plot. Mostly I’m looking at how well the characters hold up because, to me, that’s the heart of story. Readers don’t care what’s happening until they care what’s happening to and character drives everything. So, are the characters fully fleshed? Do we understand what they want? Do we know why they want it? Do we see what’s pushing them forward? Do we see how every step along the path is affecting them in a way that inexorably leads them to the next thing? And then on subsequent passes, I do what you also described, which is go in closer and look at what I call the micro elements, things like is the point of view consistent and is the author showing where telling would be more effective or vice versa? Because I don’t think it’s show versus tell, I think it’s showing and telling, they both have their place. Is suspense sustained and built throughout the story? Is there tension on every page to keep readers interested? That kinda thing. And only then, after all of that is in place and you’ve got what is essentially the main heart of your story, everything about the story itself as rock solid as you can get it, that’s when it’s time to go in and do the line edits, the prettying up and all of that. So the editing part is the assessing. It’s figuring out what you actually have, where your story may not be as strong as it could be and what might need to be addressed in making it what you hoped it would be, and then the revising is actually going in and doing that. So I edit, the author revises, but authors can also do both for themselves and should think of them as two different processes because you can’t revise with objectivity, you need editing for that, and you can’t do any of it without that objectivity, you have to be able to see what’s on the page versus what you’re filling in in your head because you’re the author, you know everything. In your mind, it all makes sense. You’ve gotta be able to see it like your reader would see it. That’s editing.

Bryan: Is there any differences between what you described there, Tiffany, for nonfiction?

Tiffany: I don’t think so. Narrative nonfiction now, I don’t have a lot of experience with just straight up like textbook-type nonfiction, but I always say a story is story so even in a narrative nonfiction, whether it’s a memoir or a biography, or, you know, a how-to book, you’re telling a story that you have a purpose. Hopefully, you want the reader to feel, do, or take something from it, just as you do with a fiction story, and so the approach, I think, would be similar. Not quite the same, because you’ve got, for example, I’m working on a follow-up right now to Intuitive Editing and I’m realizing that as a fiction writer, I’m a pretty big pantser but you can’t really do that with nonfiction because it’s key to make sure you’ve got structure and flow to guide your reader into the ideas and through them and build on them in a logical way. 

Bryan: Yeah.

Tiffany: But I still think it’s good to start big picture and then work in smaller.

Bryan: Yeah, I tried to move more towards narrative nonfiction with the last book I wrote and the feedback I got from an editor was you have lots of great stories but you still need to pivot it more towards the nonfiction idea for each chapter so she asked me to reduce the stories somewhat, so it was a story-driven book for new dads so it was definitely fun to write. But one of the painful experiences I had while writing the book was it took me almost as long to edit and revise it as it did to write it. And when I was finished, I said to myself I should have just hired an editor sooner. Was that a mistake or is that a common experience?

Tiffany: I always say the most common answer I give and the most frustrating one is it depends. If you start too soon with an editor, as I said, if you’re not really ready to work with an editor, you’re gonna have to concentrate on such big picture things that you might have been able to do on your own that you don’t get to do what a professional editor allows you to do which is really dig in deep, really develop, really flush things out. But on the other hand, if you get stuck like that, especially with nonfiction, I think it can be helpful to have somebody who can take a step back and say, “I get where you’re going here, I get the ideas you have, I’m not seeing the cohesive flow, I’m not seeing a theme that ties it all together, I’m not seeing how this builds from this.” One of the things I hear most often about intuitive editing that people like about it is the structure. It’s really logical. It’s basically structured the way you and I were just talking about approaching an edit and revision, starting with macro edits and then going to micro edits and then line edits and then I’ve got some material in there about doing your own editing and hiring an editor and that kind of thing. But the structure is really clear and the flow is exactly the way it would be if you were actually doing it. So I think that’s crucial in nonfiction and if you’re not seeing that, one of the things an editor brings to an author is, as I said, that objectivity. It helps you take a step back and look at what you have and clarify what you were trying to accomplish and then find ways to put that on the page effectively.

Bryan: Of course, a key part of editing is getting feedback from editors and readers. When I wrote my first book, I sent it off to some friends and they said, “This is great, you should publish it.” Turns out it wasn’t great and it needed a lot more work. So, what’s the best way to solicit good feedback?

Tiffany: I always say don’t give it to your mama, don’t give it to your friends or your family unless they happen to be, I would say, really adept readers, if not writers themselves, but a great reader, a broadly read reader in your genre can be a wonderful beta reader, but it also has to be someone who is willing to, I’m gonna say hurt your feelings a little but I don’t mean that in the sense of critique should be cruel, because there’s an art to giving critique, which is one reason I think other writers can be very good at it, because they understand what it’s like to get critique, and there’s a way of framing it in a way that is positive and constructive. It’s no one’s job, not the critiquer, beta reader, or even an editor, to tell an author how they should do what may need to be done in the story. It is helpful if they point out what is and is not working as well as it could. It’s up to the author to figure out what to do about that. And the editor may be able to help point you in the right direction but even — I mean, I’ve been doing this 30 years and even when I give my feedback, it’s never prescriptive. It’s always, “Here’s what I’m seeing. Here is why I think this is happening and here are some ways you could address it,” but I leave it up to the author to decide the specifics. I just say, for example, suspense is lagging in the middle of the story. I think that’s happening because we’ve lost sight of what the character wants and what they have to lose. So, you could address that by having something remind readers of the urgency of, I don’t know, I’m just spit balling here, whoever is chasing your character, let’s say. Or raise the stakes here and you might do that by making what she has to lose more important, more urgent, make it matter more to her, you might do it by complicating it more and maybe I’ll give a couple of examples specific to the story. But it’s not my place to say, you know, “This isn’t working and the character is not believable and what I think you should do is give them a different hobby.” That’s not valuable feedback. You just are holding up a mirror, really. That’s what good feedback does. And on my website, I have a bunch of free downloadables for authors but one of them is a questionnaire that I often recommend you give to your beta readers and critique partners that will help guide them toward the areas where you might want feedback and also the type of feedback you want. So instead of saying things like, “What wasn’t working for you?” you might ask, “Was there anywhere you lost interest in the story and put the book down and it was hard to pick it back up? Where was that? What was it that made you feel that way?” And so there’s two things about that. One, you’re getting the specific input you need about where your story momentum may be lagging and you can figure out why and maybe you have some clues from their feedback, but it’s about their reaction that they’re giving you. And, two, you give them a framework for giving you feedback that not only sort of pushes them into giving it to you in a constructive way but gives them the permission to be honest with you in a way that can be difficult, especially for a lay— like someone who’s not an author who doesn’t realize that their honesty is really what you need, not the praise.

Bryan: Yeah, it’s a good approach. When I was in a creative writing group, the instructor tasked us with giving feedback to each other but when I would write a story and get feedback, I wasn’t allowed to say anything and the instructor’s thinking was when a reader is reading a book, the author can’t stand behind them and say, “This is what I really meant when I wrote this scene or when wrote this sentence,” so you just have to suck it up.

Tiffany: Yeah, that’s actually a really common sort of best practices for critique groups. I was in one like that and I have to say I agree with it. Because the temptation is, you probably know, the temptation is strong to explain what you meant. I even say with my editorial letters, I ask a million questions, that’s often how I approach it because, again, it’s not my place to tell the author what to do, I’m asking them was this what you meant or do you think it would be effective if this happened or might it make sense for him to have more reason to do this? So I ask a lot of questions and I often say at the beginning of the letter, “These are not for you to answer directly to me,” because it’s sort of we’re ingrained to do that, right? Someone asks you a question and you answer it, but that’s not really what this type of feedback is for. And as the author, I think it’s good to kind of force you to sit down and shut up and listen to it and take it in. Because, as you said, you’re not there to explain it to a reader. Either your intentions are on the page or they’re not, and even if they are, every reader is subjective and so every opinion is valid. They’re getting what they’re getting out of it and isn’t it great information to hear that?

Bryan: So when you’re not editing or working with your clients, I know you write fiction. Do you write that for fun or do you like telling fiction stories or do you like to keep your toe in the water and put what you teach into practice?

Tiffany: I kind of have gone the opposite direction lately. I have six novels out under my pen name, Phoebe Fox, and, like I said, I started as a writer and I always loved it, but more and more over the years, I’ve seen that my heart really is in editing and my last book came out, I think, in October of last year, The Way We Weren’t, and I have not written anything new in the way of fiction in probably a couple of years. I’ve been really focused on nonfiction writing. I wrote Intuitive Editing, it released right at the beginning of the pandemic, and then I’ve been working on the follow-up to that and I do a weekly blog with a lot of craft tips for authors and I also contribute to a lot of other outlets like Writers in the Storm and Writer Unboxed and Jane Friedman and then I also have started doing online courses and webinar presentations and that keeps me really busy and —

Bryan: That’s a lot.

Tiffany: It is but it’s also — it’s really creatively rewarding for me in the way that fiction kind of used to be. I don’t know, it’s weird. Lately, I feel like there’s a little bit of distance growing between me and writing fiction, but I still, you know, obviously, I love reading it, that’s what I do most of my day every day and most evenings.

Bryan: As somebody who’s writing articles online and involved in building an online business, do you sometimes worry that people aren’t reading books anymore and, particularly for nonfiction writers, is the book really the best place for them to put their work? Would they not find a larger audience by using some other means of connecting with readers, for example, a blog or a course or a newsletter?

Tiffany: For me, personally, my choice was based on the fact that — so the book arose because I found that, over the years, over and over in my editorial letters, a lot of the same stuff was coming up and I always wanted to go deeper than you can in an editorial letter, not just be able to say, you know, “This is — I’m seeing suspense lag here,” but to really get deep with it and go, “Here’s what makes suspense work and here’s how you can build it and here are the techniques that you can incorporate into your work that will heighten it and build it throughout,” and get nitty gritty with it in a way you cannot in an editorial letter, but I wanted something that I could just refer people to so I started kind of making little mini templates of different topics like that, here’s how to build suspense, here is how to flesh out character motivation, or whatever it was. And then little by little, I realized it was getting quite substantial. And if I had a book, I’d be able to point people toward this resource and say, “If you wanna read more about it, I have this here,” or on my blog, for example, if you wanna get on my blog, I have this post or this post on Jane Friedman’s site that you can look at flashbacks and how to introduce them. So they started as teaching tools. But books, as you probably know yourself, especially nonfiction, become sort of part of the business plan. Like the book, when it released in May of ’20, literally right at the beginning of pandemic, a lot of people were having trouble writing, I was hearing from authors, and they felt blocked creatively because, remember, back then, we were all just — everybody was kind of up in arms and there was so much uncertainty. And so I created a presentation based on the book about all the things you could do for your writing that did not involve writing. Basically learning to analyze other people’s stories while we were all sitting on the couch freaking out about the pandemic, binge watching Netflix and reading books. And then I offered that up to everywhere I could and everywhere, all these writers’ conferences I had worked with and groups I had worked with before, just for free, just as like a little pandemic thing. Because that happened right when the book came out, it kind of exploded the book in a way I hadn’t foreseen and the book really launched my career in a different direction. Like I was mostly doing actual developmental editing before that and that’s when things started to shift into more of the teaching, speaking, presenting, writing, because it broadened your profile. So I think in that regard, a book is incredibly valuable, but the way you keep yourself visible and current and the way I personally develop concepts for my book is by writing those shorter pieces you talked about, so my weekly blog is a wonderful way for me to kind of explore a lot of the theories I’m working through to hopefully put into a future book. It’s a great way for me to address things I’m seeing authors I’m currently working with struggle with. Same thing with the courses. I can put together — it forces me to think about ways, like I have one, let’s say, about middle of the book sag. It forces me to really analytically go, “Okay, why does this usually happen? What are the most common culprits? How can authors see that in their work? And what are some easy tools they can use to be able to address that?” So my whole kind of MO with doing what I do, my specialty, became taking these things that frequently vex authors and finding ways to really dissect them and break them down and then find practical ways of addressing them in your own writing.

Bryan: Do you think you’ll write another book or are you focused now on the teaching of the ideas inside of the book?

Tiffany: No, I’m midway through Intuitive Character Development, it’s gonna be the follow-up book, and then I’m hoping, so each chapter of the Intuitive Editing book is a main sort of area of craft, so there’s character, stakes, plot, suspension and tension, that sort of thing, and I’d like to take each one of those and — I finished Intuitive Editing and I thought, well, that’s it, I’ve said everything I need to say, and then I realized, oh, my God, there’s so much more about each one of these topics so I’m really taking each one separately and digging deep.

Bryan: So I foresee a series.

Tiffany: I kind of foresee a series too. And I love doing it. It really is fun for me and it keeps my — it’s really very creative and keeps my brain active.

Bryan: Fantastic. Fantastic. So, Tiffany, where can listeners and writers go if they want to work with you?

Tiffany: The best place to find everything we’ve talked about is on my website, I do tend to stay fairly booked up. Right now I’m booked through most of the end of the year. But I have so many resources on there for authors. I’ve got a bunch of free downloadables on editing, on beta readers, on how to edit your own work. I’ve got the weekly blog which is full of all different kinds of craft advice and writing life stuff. I’ve got a monthly series called How Writers Revise where I talk to authors about their career path and how they approach editing and revision. And the online courses are on there and you can also find my socials, anything you might need is pretty much right there in that clearinghouse.

Bryan: Yeah, I spent a lot of time looking at websites so I would recommend listeners check out your website ’cause it’s a fantastic example of how creatives can build an online profile, but it’s great to talk to you today, Tiffany.

Tiffany: Thanks, Bryan. It’s been a pleasure. And good luck and congratulations, new dad.

Bryan: Well, that was three years ago but I wrote a book about becoming a new dad during the lockdown —

Tiffany: Oh, wow.

Bryan: — so it was a creative kind of project. I guess a bit like it was narrative nonfiction, I guess a bit like your book, but, yeah, thank you.


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