Script Consultant and Book Editor for Independent Authors and Writers of Screenplays and Teleplays
A bookaholic, who has loved and understood the power of words and story for as long as she can remember, Susan, a professional editor and story consultant, works with writers, novice and veteran, traditionally-published to self-published, providing a crucial fresh eye and "second sight" and supportively helping them develop, flesh out, polish and refine their works, honoring and strengthening each author's unique "voice" and striving to get their work noticed in the competitive world of publishing, film and television.
Her approach is comprehensive, creative, detailed, in-depth, collaborative, committed, and highly personalized. She considers herself an advocate for a writer's work and vision, but also an honest editorial partner. She's also someone who, once she's engaged in a project, will stay up nights creatively considering it, searching for ways to guide the writer to capitalize on the manuscript's strengths, and address and solve story weaknesses or problems in fresh and unimagined ways.
In the publishing industry, she was a Developmental Editor for both Canfield Press and Harper & Row (now Harper Collins) in New York, and did freelance developmental and substantive editing, copyediting, research, proofreading, redlining for such major publishing houses as Prentice-Hall, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Grune & Stratton, Abrams Publishers. She now works primarily with writers who are readying their manuscripts for either submissions to agents or publishers, or are self-publishing, which has become a burgeoning field and one highly supportive of innovative, independent authors. She brings a keen sense of dramatic structure, characters and dialogue, given her training and experience in theatre in New York.
In the film industry she worked as a Freelance Story Analyst and Development Consultant on feature film and television projects for DreamWorks, New Regency Productions, Village Roadshow, DeLuca Productions, Donner-Shuler-Donner Productions, Icon Films, Jagged Films, Disney, Showtime, Lifetime, among others, and worked on the development of such films as L.A. Confidential (Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published), Get On Up, Enigma, HBO's Vinyl, and is currently working for Michael DeLuca Productions, which is adapting to the screen John Connolly's "Samuel Johnson" trilogy (The Gates, The Creeps, The Infernals), among numerous other projects. She works with private clients, writers, international film brokers and producers, and assisted writer/director Albert Brooks on Defending Your Life.
As an editor and story consultant, Susan has "no power" -- the ability to say no to projects and/or point out their weaknesses -- but is committed to helping writers take the next step to turn a "no" into a "yes." In this highly competitive age, writers have one chance to impress with their projects since publishers, agents, editors, and movie executives are looking for a reason to pass on a project because they're so overwhelmed with material. Susan's goal is to insure the "no" on a project or submission — whether the work of experienced writers or novices -- becomes a "yes."
Query Letters and Book Proposals
Screenplay and Teleplay Story Notes
A Critique provides broad feedback on your manuscript, considering big-picture issues such as story, plot structure, development of themes, character development, voice, consistency, clarity, and any other strengths or weaknesses specific to the work. In the form of an Editorial Memo, you will receive specific advice on how to revise your manuscript to ensure it is structurally sound, and addresses such issues as:
"For the depth of Susan’s critique, I am amazed. For the generous time she spent talking with me and the short time it took her to get back to me, I am grateful but most of all for the confidence she gave me to pursue this story I can only say THANK YOU x 10, Susan, your help has been priceless."
"Susan possesses an excellent editorial sense of what makes a story work. She reviewed one of my manuscripts and I was greatly impressed by her detailed insights. Every comment she made had merit. If you want to improve your fiction, to make it more salable or to just plain make it better, I highly recommend her."
Addresses key elements of structure, plot, pacing, voice, characters, tone, at a micro-level and includes an Editorial Memo and a Line Edit with developmental comments and suggestions that consider pacing, characters, point of view, tense, plot, subplots, and dialogue. Order, flow and consistency are scrutinized, with attention paid to the organization and flow of chapters, plot holes and “days off,” and story elements that aren’t “landing” well. Developmental editing considers all the aspects of a manuscript that make the book clear, readable and enjoyable.
Editorial MemoThis is similar to that provided in a Critique, but includes more detailed and specific feedback on manuscripts that are structurally sound.
Line Edit with Editorial CommentsThis is a word-by-word edit of the manuscript, to improve, hone, and polish the prose by:
- trimming repetitive words and phrases
- adding words to clarify and enhance meaning
- strengthening the rhythm of the prose.
Each sentence is analyzed for word choice, power and meaning, syntax is considered along with whether a sentence needs to be trimmed or tightened. Word’s “Track Changes” is used so the editorial changes are clear and can be accepted, rejected, or modified.
The edit includes comments and suggestions, made in the margins of the manuscript, to point out:
- scenes, settings, character actions, descriptions that may need either further development or honing;
- anything unclear, illogical or unbelievable in the narrative as well as in characters’ behavior;
- ways to improve the tension in major scenes and plot points;
- scenes that disrupt the narrative flow; pointing out stylistic issues.
"Susan is without a doubt one of the finest and most thorough editors I have ever had the fortune to meet. Coming from an extensive background of manuscript development and editing and critiquing screenplays, her suggestions are first class. I would not hesitate to recommend her to authors who are in need of help in analyzing and fine tuning their manuscripts."
"Working with Susan has been a wonderfully, positive experience. As a first-time author, she provides expert editing, creative inspiration and much-needed encouragement. Susan is super responsive and works with lightning speed. I highly recommend her."
"The hunt for the right editor can be a daunting task, especially for a first time writer. With all the effort you put into your work, you really want the right person that’ll take it to the next level. After discussing my project with several editors, Susan’s ambition, friendly-nature and experience set her apart. In the editing process, she’s collaborative, engaged, supportive and honest. She does everything in her power to improve the manuscript and give it every chance to succeed. From the business side, she’s competitive in her proposal and in the end, on time and on budget. All told, I feel very lucky to have Susan in my corner."
"I have finally completed my first book Cataqueria Island. Submitting my story to an editing site was a huge leap, and finding the right editor in Susan moved me from trying to get the book finished to actually being able to finish it. Once I received my first edit it was like a huge weight had been lifted from my imagination I could finally see the way to the end step by step. The guidance and instruction Susan gave me was extremely detailed and incredibly useful in getting me to the final page! Susan's ability to create the same thought and moment in Cataqueria Island with words I couldn't find was a set-me-free moment, for all the frustration and knots in the sentences had vanished as if a magic wand had been waved all over the script, bringing to life the story that was locked in my mind with hidden brick walls and blank spaces. I cannot thank Susan enough for getting me to the end of a big adventure, one I hope will continue for many more books to come!"
Copyediting is appropriate for a manuscript in its final stages, with no further “development” needed, and does not alter the content of the text. Copyediting focuses on the mechanical issues of style:
- continuity of plot, setting, character traits
- awkward phrasing
"After Susan edited my last novel, I submitted it to my publisher. The editor on this third book in the series had only one comment: that the manuscript was clean, the story tight, enjoyable, and a real page-turner. The book went straight into production and four months later, Koolura and the Mayans was published."
"If you need a good editor--and you do, even if you don't think you do--the first person you should contact is Susan. Her sense of story is unparalleled and she has the skills you need at every stage of your projects, from developing a story that is both coherent and commercial, to delivering a manuscript that's as clean of grammar glitches as humanly possible. if you hand her a piece of coal, she'll give you back a diamond."
Query Letters and Book Proposals
Assessing the strength of query letters and proposals, which are marketing tools to suggest the strengths and uniqueness -- and marketability -- to agents or traditional publishers, without giving too much away and without overselling. The aspects of a query or proposal reviewed include:
"I've just skimmed through the whole manuscript. Completely love what you've done and suggested and can't wait to finish it off over the weekend, hopefully. I also love what you did to the query letter.
Your sense of logic is impeccable. Thank you so much for everything!"
Screenplays and Teleplay Story Notes
A professional analysis of your screen story's strengths and weaknesses, and its viability as a motion picture or television project, which includes:
"Jagged Films has worked with Susan as a story consultant to find and develop projects for film and television for many years. She brings an experienced, critical, and intuitive eye to evaluating screenplays and books (fiction and non-fiction, for adaptation), assessing the strengths and weaknesses of key story elements such as premise, plot, structure, characterizations, dialogue, and marketability. Development is her forte, and she can be relied on to offer intelligent, insightful, and creative suggestions and solutions that insure a project reaches its fullest potential. We rely on her good taste, professionalism, and utmost discretion in every way."
"I wanted to take a minute to say thank you for all the work you do for us here – I always look forward to your insightful and intelligent (not to mention beautifully written) thoughts on the material we send."
"Getting my screenplay to Susan was a real game changer for me. She is very detailed and right on with STORY, CHARACTERS and STRUCTURE. Working with only one set of her story notes, I was able to make my screenplay Ashford Hollows a good 75% better. I will definitely rely on her services again. Thank you, Susan!"
Books, Films, and ManuscriptsBooks
- The Mystery of the Missing Ming, Cedar Creek Mystery Book 2, Anne Loader McGee
- The Mystery Beneath the Midville Museum, Cedar Creek Mystery Book 2, Anne Loader McGee
- Koolura and the Mayans, Koolura Series Book 2, Michael Thal
- Directing Actors, Judith Weston
- Bride of the Midnight King: A Grimm Blood Tale (the Shadow Palace Series, book 1), Kat Parrish
- A History of World Art, Hugh Honour and John Fleming
- Tucky the Hunter, James Dickey
- Human Mosaic: An Introduction to Cultural Geography, Terry Jordan & Lester Rowntree
- The Social Web, John Perry & Erna Perry
- Patterns of Contemporary Society, John Perry & Murray Seidler
- Marketing: Basic Concepts of Decision Making, Donald P. Robin
- Art Forms, Duane and Sarah Preble
- The Christensen Method, Bonnie Christensen
- Psychology: The Dynamics of Consciousness and Behavior, Michael S. Gazzaniga
- Inside Design, Julie Suhlaria and Ruby Diamond
- Tilden Daken: Artist, Adventurer, Storyteller, Bonnie Portnoy
- Canucklehead, Zack Klamn
- Footsteps of a Nomad, Diana McLeod
- Purple Burt, Mitch Friedman
- Upshot, Eric Hammer
- Beautiful Disaster, Christine Johnson
- Pandora's Pumpkin, Debra Troy
- Scar, Liz Scott
- Babe In the Woods, Judy Hopkins
- One Perfect Wish, Paul Wetor
- Guest of the Commonwealth, Peter Crowley
- Scar Stories, Garrett Hedman
- Cataqueria Island, Anna Taylor
- The Gates (adaptation of series by John Connolly)
- Sweet Tooth (adaptation of novel by Ian McEwan)
- The Sisters Brothers (adaptation of novel by Patrick DeWitt)
- The Black count (adaptation of novel by Tom Reiss)
- The Girl Before (adaptation of novel by JP Delaney)
- The Explorers: The Door in the Alley (adaptation of series by Adrienne Kress),
- The Grown Up (adaptation of novel by Gillian Flynn)
- Dukes of Oxy
- Call of the Wild (adaptation of novel by Jack London)