What is development editing exactly?
Good development editing means keeping the Big Picture for the writer, who often gets lost in the forest because of the many trees. We guide the writer in character development, story, narrative voice and other aspects of literary art and craft. A good developmental editor listens closely to your vision and helps it come alive.
How did I become a developmental editor?
Coaching writers came out of my close association with other English-speaking writers living as expats in one of the most vibrant capital cities of the world. Berlin, at this moment in time, is a bit like Paris was in the Twenties: open and alive with talent. There is an excitement and generosity of spirit, which I try to impart to my clients along with the standard toolbox of writing skills.
Developing your unique voice as a writer is a transformational process that involves taking risks and showing something of your soul. I love helping artists draw that out of themselves.
I grew up in a Hollywood family. My father was a well-known screenwriter, my grandmother a famous actress, and my grandfather a British playwright. People talking “story” was what I imbibed with my milk.
After studying Creative Writing at Mills College with Diana O’Hehir and completing my B.A. in English Literature, I won a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to travel and write in Europe. I worked as a freelance journalist writing book reviews and articles on music and culture for many Bay Area magazines and newspapers, including the Bay Guardian and Mother Jones. I also have a MSc. in Biological Sciences, and have worked as a field biologist and published entomological research papers in journals.
Many hats in several countries:
I have taught English at the Berliner Technische Kunstschule and the Berlin School of Economics and Law in Germany, where I have lived for many years, as well as at Yasar University in Izmir, Turkey.
Under my pen name, Laurie Taylor, I wrote and performed on stage for This Berlin Life. My first novel, Said the Fly, was recently published and recieved a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and was selected as one of their Best 100 Books of 2016. I am currently working on a collection of short stories. I now divide my time between San Francisco and Berlin.
”I’m grateful for having worked with Laurie for the past six years. She has truly formed the writer I am today.
The most valuable thing that Laurie brings to her editing is decades of critical and voracious reading which I could never catch up with in my entire life. I’m amazed at the sheer volume of literature that she instantly draws upon to put my writing in the context of all of English literature and beyond, as her knowledge extends to practically every significant cultural movement of the last half century. At the same time, I’ve come to rely on her feedback for her pure aesthetic sense and her vast understanding of human emotion.
Laurie works with incredible speed, insight, and joy. Whenever I write anything, I have her voice guiding me in my head and afterwards, I’m eager to get her new feedback. Her support has not only helped my writing get recognized and published (including my first submission to Glimmer Train), but she also prepared me to turn the heads of several agents for my upcoming historical-fantasy novel.
Ideally, every writer should work with an editor who understands what readers want and need, but who also maximizes each individual writer’s creative potential. I’ve been fortunate; Laurie has been this for me.”
— Audrey Mei
”To start with, Laurie has a great ear for writing. She can apply her listening ability equally to a sentence – finding the word or turn of phrase that doesn’t resonate, to a paragraph – where does the flow become confusing? – or to a story or indeed an entire novel or non-fiction manuscript. She can take the journey from the micro-level to the macro-level and back again.
Laurie has read extensively in a great range of genres, has trained as a scientist, and is a natural teacher. All this informs her approach to texts and editing. Sensitively – for as a writer herself she’s well aware of the challenges of the writing process – Laurie can help you put your finger on what’s unique and special about your piece of writing and what is not yet having the desired effect.”
— Dusty Anne Rhodes, Author of Hard
”I was referred to Laurel by a classmate in a writing workshop at The University of Iowa. Laurel’s editorial comments regarding my memoir manuscript were wondrously affirmative and particular to a depth that no teacher or reader had stated before. I loved how she used her reading of me as a painter and quiltmaker to discuss my writing style, to make pertinent points about my combination of genres and repeated elements of color and comfort in the stories. While sentences and areas she suggested I amend were clearly noted as to their weakness, her confidence in my ability to fix them was evident. And she solved my unstated but biggest dilemma with the opening in a way that made perfect sense. I highly recommend Laurel’s professional insight and the personal attention she gives to each writer’s unique voice and syntax.”
— Nancy Nichols, Glenview, Illinois
“In an enthusiastic burst of support, Laurel let me know what was significantly good about my writing and then went right to the heart of one of my greatest weaknesses. Her suggestions for how to improve two notably difficult stories gave my re-write-weary spirit a fresh burst of energy and inspiration. I can definitely recommend Laurel for her understanding of the written word and her ability to convey valuable criticism and support to anyone who wants their stories to rise above the normal cut.
— A.Brandt, Berlin, Germany