EDITING, MENTORING, MANUSCRIPT ASSESSMENT
Michelle considers her job as editor as a professional who examines documents or manuscripts with detached yet passionate interest; she is both sounding board and advisor as new ideas emerge, and she’s a tough assessor when it comes to seeing the forest and/or the trees when they’re all too close for a writer.
Because she’s a writer herself, Michelle appreciates how essential it is to have a good working relationship with an editor – and how essential it is for an editor to recognise the voice and style of a writer. As an editor, she engages readily in lively discussions about larger questions such as philosophical underpinnings, metaphysical influences, character motivations (conscious or not) or story arc, while also caring equally about fine-tuning language (she’s committed to commas, that is, and she possesses a fondness for well-placed semi-colons).
Formerly a historian, Michelle adheres to a strict code when it comes to the details that make a story ring true. The right amount of research and probing bring authenticity to any story. It’s not important that writers write only what they know – indeed, thinking outside the box is something to be encouraged. But it’s critical that they strive for authenticity at all times, whether writing something that comes from intimate first-hand experience or entering unfamiliar terrain. In either case, getting the details right can make or break a story.
Fluent in German and adept at other languages, Michelle has a natural feel for rhythm and phrasing. In both her own writing and her approach to editing, Michelle views language with precision and creativity. Language is mathematical and fluid. Good writing – whether academic and expository or ethereal and poetic – requires careful consideration but also needs the freedom to dance. Michelle encourages writers to approach their work with intelligence but also with a sense of play. Risk-taking and drawing outside the lines are encouraged. Language should be taken seriously, but writers should gain serious enjoyment from their craft.
Michelle believes in maintaining a standard of excellence that is tough, but she does it with a lightheartedness – because this is fun, after all. She is not afraid to make difficult decisions, and she’ll help you do so as well. But she always recognises that the story is yours, and her role as editor is to make it the best possible story you can tell.