Holly has written a post about what she’s gained from the process of In fabula-divinos. I’m so touched by what she has to say, and so happy that she’s finding it’s made a difference to her confidence and her approach to writing. It’s exactly what I wanted to achieve.

Take it away Holly.

***

When I received my acceptance letter from Nicole for the In fabula-divinos project, I couldn’t believe it. I’d had all these plans to bombard her with story after story each month until she eventually gave in and accepted one, but she chose my first submission, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Nicole let me know she would be sending my editorial letter through shortly, but in the mean time I could ask her any questions I had about the industry. Within the day I had sent her my first question, and in Nicole’s words, it was a ‘doozy’. She didn’t hold back either, though, and responded to this and each of my following questions with both wisdom and enthusiasm. I have learnt so much from this conversation.

Possibly the most informative part of the In fabula-divinos experience, however, has been the editing process itself. As I ashamedly admitted to Nicole, I had never edited my writing before, and really had no idea of the process or its potential to improve my work. I was nervous as I received the editorial letter. Scanning the page it seemed like there was a lot I had to change, but on closer inspection I realised how much opportunity these suggestions gave for improving my story. For example, originally my story had included an extra main character. This, Nicole pointed out, was unnecessary and used up words that would be better utilised providing additional back story. After removing this character, I realised how much more I could add to benefit the rest of the story.

The copy-edit was a little more distressing. My story was covered in horrifying red track changes. It was like someone telling you that your baby is beautiful, except something should be done about its face. Though, again, on closer inspection, they were all excellent suggestions. In particular, I realised that a number of my sentences were far too long for a short story and needed to be divided in order to maintain pace. Two sentences, however, caused me the most anguish. Nicole and I went back and forth over them, after I explained why they shouldn’t be deleted entirely, and Nicole explained why they needed to be changed. In the end, those two sentences were a lot of work, but it was well worth the effort in terms of increased characterisation.

Then there was the proof, which, after the copy-edit, was a walk in the park.

Throughout the entire editing process, Nicole continually pointed out where things needed improvement, but without necessarily telling me how. I found this to be a very helpful technique, as she managed to show where the story was lacking, but left me to work out how to achieve an improvement based on my own views of the story. Equally, she made it clear that it was my story and she was willing to listen to my feedback to her criticisms. For example, when I explained my reasons for not naming the boyfriend in the story, Nicole agreed that this should not be changed. As she said to me, “You are the writer, at the end of the day the judgement call is all yours.”

Since going through this editing process with Nicole, I am already noticing changes in the way that I consider my writing. I now reflect on my sentences from different angles and am more critical about the necessity of certain aspects of my work.

Nicole has boosted my confidence in my writing and I am so excited about continuing my writing journey. I can’t wait to read more from other new writers as the In fabula-divinos project continues.

You can read Holly’s story here.

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