Don’s Manuscript Repair Shop
Give me your manuscript.
Short story, memoir, novel…doesn’t matter. I’ll read it. I’ll read it again. I’ll make notes. I’ll write up a critique of the manuscript, including all of the strengths and weaknesses, and my advice for how to make the story optimally successful. Then we’ll meet and discuss my findings.
I’m not an editor, though I’ll give editorial advice. I’m not a proofreader, though I’ll fix small mechanical issues. I’m not a teacher, though where applicable I will get you to understand a concept or technique. What I am, more, is a diagnostician: I’ll find my way into your vision for the story, come to understand the characters, study the plotting, listen carefully to the voice and rhythm of the narrative, and generally make myself an expert on your work-in-progress.
Then I’ll share my expertise.
There’s more to it than that. I have lots of underlying philosophies about the best way to communicate my thoughts and ideas; about the goals of the author in relation to the type of advice I’ll dispense; about the relative talent of the writer and how that impacts his or her ability to realize a better draft.
All of it, though, comes down to this: I’m confident I can help you make your story better. Maybe a lot better. Assuming you’ve completed a whole something (story, essay, book), but want help getting it truly done, then hire me. You probably won’t ever sell enough books to cover your expenses—in fact, you probably won’t ever sell your book. That’s just a reality of the marketplace, and I don’t make any promises there. But realizing the best version of a story has intrinsic value: it’s a source of pride, makes you a better writer, and, once in a while, leads to an agent or a publisher taking a chance on you or it or both.
You can email or call me at 773 414 2603 to discuss whether or not I might be able to take on your project, and if so what my work will cost.
I don’t do much of this, but if the project and money are right, I’ll write your book for you. How I do this varies, but generally I’ll sift through whatever writing you’ve already done; conduct extensive interviews with you or other subjects; do all necessary research; visit with you and/or places important to the story. I’ll try to inhabit your voice and make it your story—only, presumably, better told than you might have done on your own. Again, email, or call 773.414.2603 if you want to discuss your project.
Stories on Demand
I’m always hearing, “Man, if I had the time, I’d write about this place.” Or, “My family: that’s a book I want to write someday.” Only, you don’t have the time, and someday might never come. I’ll do it for you. The way it works is this: you give me a character, or situation, or storyline. I’ll fill in the blanks. For me, it’s a sort of party trick: I can make something out of just about anything. For you, it’s a novelty—a gift to your friends at the barber shop, or to your mom on her birthday, or Granny in the nursing home. I’ll even (if you want to spend more) work with an illustrator and publisher to produce a small limited edition of the story. You get what amounts to first rights—you can use or publish the story however you see fit; I retain ownership, in case I want to publish some version of it in the future. As always, email or call 773 414 and I’ll give you a quote; depends on what you want done, how long it will take me, etc.
I recently worked with April Kirkwood to turn her Frankie Valli "Me Too" story into a readable memoir that can help others understand their own histories.