Writing Tips | The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories

- Tip -

Edit like Joble


When we edit, we most often start from this place:

What is wrong with this piece of writing?

It is a reasonable question to ask.  However, there are other questions that could be asked first.

For example, we can start our editing from here:

What is great about this piece of writing?

As it happens, our workshop editor, Joble, routinely sets off from this place when he receives a new piece of writing to edit.  Sit back, relax and I shall tell you about him.

Joble has a laugh and a smile and a twinkle in his eye that is fueled by things that have delighted him. He finds delightful things easily.  If a story has the look of a messy bedroom, one which might have just seen a tornado hurtling through, Joble can direct his gaze past the strewn socks and  old shirts hanging over the bedpost and recognize the parts that are undeniably handsome.

He begins with compliments.  Unhurriedly, he savors and relishes all of the story’s successes aloud. He is never in a rush to deliver these happy pieces of news, and he seems to discover more good news with each passing paragraph!

This editor elf has an inborn inclination to encourage rather than run down.  He carries with him, and shares generously, a feeling of boundless optimism!

Just imagine seeing your story through his eyes!

And, when he is ready, and when he knows that the writer is ready, he phrases suggestions in the most wonderful way.  He says,

“Wouldn’t it be incredible if….”

Wouldn’t it be incredible if you focused on this character a little more?

Wouldn’t it be incredible if you moved this paragraph to the beginning?

Wouldn’t it be incredible if you gave the reader a little more background here?

He suggests an exciting possibility rather than magnifying a disappointing flaw!

Hearing a suggestion, made in this way, is music to a writer’s ears!  You feel as if you cannot wait to make the revisions.

New idea: In school, we are often called upon to edit a neighbor’s work.  And a neighbor is often a friend.  Why not take the path through your neighbor’s writing that Joble would take!

Look past the tangle, look past the some of the understandable mess, to parts that are really fine. Compliment first!  Encourage and congratulate!  Take your sweet time delivering the good and reassuring news.

And, when you have a helpful suggestion for how the writing might be improved, say what Joble says,

Wouldn’t it be incredible if….

Be this kind of editor for other people, and they will be this kind of editor for you.

And, when you are writing and editing on your own, you will be this kind of editor for yourself.

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The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories