From Diane - Founder of Pitch U:
It’s Story Masters week! I’m spotlighting an advanced, craft-of-writing conference that I’ll be attending in November, 2011. (My squeal of delight is like this... but more dignified and writerly. See minute 1:03)
Story Masters = Three of the best teachers in the nation PLUS access to four freelance editors in ONE rockin’ workshop.
Today is all about Brenda Windberg, freelance editor who believes in journeying to the heart of you and your story.
Previously in this series:
- How to Be a Story Master by Literary Agent Donald Maass
- How Writers Learn to be Story Masters by James Scott Bell
- How to Have a Story Master In Your Court (Lorin Oberweger)
- A Story Master Where Narrative is King (Roman White)
- Coaching You to Be a Story Master Apprentice (Jason Sitzes)
Diane: Why are you excited about Story Masters?
Brenda: For the past several years, I’ve been thrilled and privileged to work with Donald Maass, offering writing seminars all over the country. He’s such an amazing teacher, truly generous and inspiring.
I simply can’t wait to see what happens!
Diane: What do you do, who do you do it for, and why is it effective?
Brenda: As mentioned in my bio (see below), I work as an independent editor and staff writer for Free Expressions Seminars and Literary Services. In a nutshell, I strive to help writers define their vision, develop their voice and strengthen their writing skills.
My work is effective because I believe in journeying to the heart—the heart of story, of character psychology, of authorial purpose—in order to help authors craft the most authentic and engaging version of the story they long to tell.
Diane: What’s the highlight of your work?
Brenda: I’m tempted to answer this one by saying ‘see above,’ simply because the process of discovery, of glimpsing the truth and beauty at the core of each writer’s work and then collaborating to shape that essence into its final form is what I love most about what I do.
There is so much joy when that lightbulb goes off, when, together, we see what’s possible and then craft a plan to make it real.
Diane: What happens in a workshop appointment?
Brenda: In my workshop appointments, I am always prepared to give my impressions of the work and offer suggestions, but I also work to make sure the time is used in a way that is most helpful for the writer.
I don’t want to talk simply to fill space, but rather I want to say things that will resonate and clarify.
I want writers to leave my appointments with their minds on fire. I want them to race back to their manuscripts, itching to get to work. For that reason, I love when writers come to the appointment with specific questions, when they let me know exactly where they would like to focus.
From there, I’ll ask questions of my own, questions about goals and motivations for both characters and author, about language and structure and tension. As I said above, it’s all about truth for me—I believe that’s why we write—and I do everything I can to get there with every writer I speak to.
Diane: Can writers continue working with you after the workshop.
Brenda: Writers can absolutely continue working with any of our editors after the workshop, in basically any form they feel effective.
At Free Expressions, we pride ourselves on customizing our offerings so that we make the most of each writer’s time, abilities, and preferences. Whether that means a chapter line-edit, a full manuscript evaluation, or a story development weekend, we’re happy to find the most effective approach.
Diane: BONUS PITCH QUESTION: Is pitching easy or hard for you?
Brenda: Pitching is tough, there’s no getting around it.
In my early years, I tried too hard and talked too much and, just like when novice writers rush to fill in all the blanks in their novels instead of leaving space for the reader to wonder, I made my story less intriguing with my chatter.
My best advice is to keep it simple but enticing. Focus on what’s different about your story, figure out the most potent and active descriptors, and have the confidence NOT to babble like you’ll never have another two minutes in front of an agent or editor.
Just breathe and connect. You’ll be great.
Brenda Windberg, Program Coordinator and Staff Editor, has been on the staff of Free Expressions since 2002. An accomplished writer and editor, Brenda has worked in publishing for more than fifteen years.
She has served as editor for Free Expressions' WRITE LINE newsletter and worked as a staff writer for several newspapers, in addition to freelancing and ghostwriting. Her articles have been featured in such publications as PARENT GUIDE, HARTFORD TIMES PRESS, and others. Currently at work on her third novel, her work is represented by Matt Bialer of The Sanford Greenburger Agency.