Turning Readers Into Writers

060 - How to use a cliffhanger with September C. Fawkes

April 29, 2021 Emma Dhesi, September C Fawkes Season 1 Episode 60
Turning Readers Into Writers
060 - How to use a cliffhanger with September C. Fawkes
Show Notes Transcript

About September C Fawkes

September's approach to editing has been described as "thorough," "precise," and "kind."

She has worked in the fiction-writing industry for over eight years and has been editing stories for longer. She has edited for both award-winning and best-selling authors and have worked on manuscripts written for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers, with most of my experience being in the genres of fantasy and science fiction. 

Previous to freelance editing, she was mentored by a creative writing professor, an award-winning international best-selling author, and a professional editor.

 
Links:

 

Book Editing Blueprint
A Step-By-Step Plan To Making Your Novels Publishable

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Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/emmadhesi)
Emma Dhesi:

Hello, I'm Emma Dhesi and welcome to another episode of turning readers into writers. If you're brand new here, welcome. And here's what you need to know. This is a community that believes you are never too old to write your first novel, no matter what you've been up to until now, if you're ready to write your book, I'm ready to help you reach the end, I focus on helping you find the time and confidence to begin your writing journey, as well as the craft and skills you need to finish the book. Each week I interview debut authors, editors and industry experts to keep you motivated, inspired, and educated on all things writing, editing, and publishing. If you want to catch up, head on over to emmadhesi.com, where you'll find a wealth of information and tools to help you get started. Before we dive in, this week's episode is brought to you by my free cheat sheet 30 Top Tips to find time to write. In this guide, I give you 30 ways that you can find time to write in the small gaps that appear between the various errands and tasks and responsibilities that you have in your day to day life. I know you might be thinking that you don't have any time to spare, but I can guarantee these top tips will give you writing time you didn't think you had. If you thought writing always involved a pen and paper or a keyboard. Think again. If you thought you needed at least an hour at a time to write your manuscript. I help you reframe that you won't be disappointed. Get your free copy of 30 Top Tips to find time to write by going to emmadhesi.com/ 30 Top Tips. Okay, let's dive in to today's episode September C. Fawkes approach to editing has been described as thorough, precise and kind. She has worked in the fiction writing industry for over eight years, and has been editing stories for even longer than that. She has edited for both award winning and best selling authors, and has worked on manuscripts written for middle grade young adult and adult readers. With most of her experience being in the genres of fantasy and science fiction. Previous to freelance editing, she was mentored by a creative writing professor, and award winning international best selling author and a professional editor. So let's delve into today's episode where September gives us a one on one tutorial on the different types of cliffhanger there are and when and if you should use them to let's find out more. Well, welcome, September. Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. It's really great to have you here.

September C. Fawkes:

Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Emma Dhesi:

And so I'd love to just start with our unit. You know, what was your journey to writing to publication to editing? How did you get to where we are now?

September C. Fawkes:

Yeah, so I'm kind of one of those I feel like it's a little cliche, always wanted to work in this industry always wanted to write or edit. And really, I wrote my first story when I was like seven and I was like hooked, and I edited it to has like, in fact, my mom was really smart. So she kept it, we still have it and I have an amoled binder It was about chickens or something because we own chickens. But anyway, I had like blocked out like lines I have, you know changed or whatever so has like all this stuff crossed out and like things are misspelled. But anyway, so that was kind of my first experience with that and I was kind of hooked after that. Um, sometimes I feel like people get this idea though that you have to have quote like always wanted, you know, to be in this industry to be successful. I don't feel that way at all. But I kind of was interested in that all growing up from that from that first time and knew this is kind of my planet was I wanted to work in this industry with have with that said I didn't have a lot of you know, any kind of professional training or anything like that going on. Luckily now we have so much stuff on the internet, like even this podcast back, which I feel like wasn't that long ago. But even just like when I was growing up, I didn't have access to a lot of those things on the internet wasn't, you know, on there, I didn't know where to look. So like I did it. Like I would write and my friends would share stories and things all the time. But I still felt like as I became an adult I wanted to get serious into it. In some ways. I feel like I still had to start at the beginning because I didn't have all that, you know, I don't have any training or mentorship. I shouldn't say I didn't have any you know, because obviously, I took English classes and stuff growing up, but I still had a lot to learn. So from there, I went to college and I got my degree in English. And so that's when I kind of started getting more of a sense of kind of professional or industry and what's expected and I became the managing first I was the fiction editor. And then I was the managing editor of their literary journal. So I kind of did that and had that experience. And then after college, I started working as an assistant for New York Times bestselling writer, his name is David Farland. He also does freelance editing. So, um, after working for him for a while, he had me start going through manuscripts, um, first, you know, and then he kind of go through after, so I kind of got more editing experience with that, I started my blog. And that's been a great little project where I just share my ideas about writing or what I've learned about writing on the hire. And from there, I started doing my own freelance editing services. So now, I've worked for myself that way, and I edit people's manuscripts that way. So it's kind of the basic journey, I guess. I don't know if you have any additional questions or anything about that, but that's kind of my story. Yeah.

Emma Dhesi:

Cool. Yeah, no, we'll do I'll follow up on that a bit. Later on, we'll get further along. But you mentioned your, your website there. I know, you've got two websites. One is predominantly your blog, which we'll come to. But the other one is sort of more for your, the editing work that you do people specifically looking for an editor, you also have this great page on that website called writing tips. And when I was looking through it, I love what I love about it is you've broken it down into different sections. So you might have you know, how to write the beginning of your book, How to brainstorm how to write about characters or write dialogue, such a useful index such a useful resource, and what prompts you to put it all together like that? So was there a sort of a crying demand for it?

September C. Fawkes:

Um, I think just, I thought would be helpful. Okay. Well, I will say part of it's also for me, as I like to have these things organized on a website. So I can just go click and look for what I'm looking for wherever I'm at. But I just thought it would be really helpful to have things a lot of things that were organized by topic, just when we're kind of scrolling through, you know, on a website. Okay, here's the topic that I'm looking at, here's different, you know, things that I can click on. A lot of them are, well, most of them are really are articles that I've written from my blog. But I do have some other articles in there that I often refer people to that maybe already explained something that, you know, I haven't written something on, or they've already done a good job on explaining it. So I'll send them there. Some of them are just articles, like when I'm editing that I might suggest to people who are working on certain things. And I just think that's kind of a helpful way to learn more about the craft, and like, have it organized in that way you can go on there, you can learn more about the craft and kind of help. I mean, it's great to have an editor, but you also need to know like the craft yourself, obviously. And it's good to be like a self editor too. So the idea for that is just to make it more accessible. And so people can look up, like whatever topic they're struggling with, they can go read about it. And hopefully, I mean, I feel like there's a lot of stuff on there. But I keep, you know, keep updated and keep trying to add to it. So there's

Emma Dhesi:

There's more there is there's a lot of stuff. And I'm gonna link specifically to that page for people I really think people should go and take a look at it will be a real, just one of those tabs you can have open on your desktop. So you can refer to that regularly. I think it's great. But they do have your blog, as we've mentioned before, and it's a fantastic blog, because a prize winning an award winning blog today, yeah...

September C. Fawkes:

Well, yeah, it's funny about that. So it's a Writer's Digest, which if people don't know, it's a pretty well known magazine for fiction writing. They do awards every year. And it's funny because I had this dream that maybe someday, you know, when soared. And I guess I want it but I didn't know, I don't know how that happened. And so it wasn't till like months and months later, I found out on accident that I had won. And so that was really exciting for me. So yeah, I did win the Writer's Digest award. So that was fun, exciting. So

Emma Dhesi:

Well, I'm not surprised. It's really great. And I am on your mailing list. And and I got, you know, an email come through to tell me about the most recent one, which is about cliffhangers. And we were chatting just before we press record that that is not often you see something written about cliffhanger. So I was really intrigued to to read it. And it seems that they're quite contentious that some people love to have a cliffhanger in the book at the end of the chapter perhaps. And then others really don't like it at all. So I wondered what your opinion was on it. You know, is it ever good to use a cliffhanger or generally they should be avoided? What do you think?

September C. Fawkes:

Yeah, yeah, it is funny because I have talked to people that have Very strong feelings about Cliff fingers, which is a little I think it's a little funny, but I mean, I can get it. You know, people don't like having to wait or whatever. Um, but I'm actually I actually like Cliff fingers. Both definitely, you know, as somebody who's working on a project to make it better. But also, I don't know, even as an audience member, I like them. And I like to hate them sometimes. Because you're kind of like, oh, why do I have to wait, you know? And so sometimes I wonder for some people, my Do you really absolutely hate them? Or do you like to hate them? I don't know. But people usually a lot of people have strong feelings about them. Um, one of the common things that people say about cliffhangers is that, you know, it's good to have a cliffhanger to get the audience to start the next chapter, or turn the page or start the next episode. And that's absolutely true. I mean, obviously, if you're going to suddenly cut something off that somebody the audience really wants to know, and you cut away from the narrative, they're going to want to see what happens next. And, um, so it is really effective that way, but I kind of feel like saying, that's the only way it's effective. I feel like that, to me, that feels a little shallow. I feel like there's more to it than that. And I mean, you could just add a bunch of tried to add a bunch of cliffhangers and then still have enough be a great story, you know, and so, um, I feel like, another good way to use them is when you have a cliffhanger, I guess the audience a second to pause and think about what's happening, or what they think is gonna happen. And so like maybe a good example of this as if you're writing like a murder mystery, you know, and they're about to figure out who the murderer is, maybe they're about to mask them, you cut away. So there's a cliffhanger that gives the audience a second to kind of pause and think, who do I think is under the mask who do I think is the murderer. And usually, like, the cliffhanger is going to come out of like, every, you know, obviously a powerful moment, because we want to see what happened that what happens next. And so sometimes I feel like the audience will just want to keep, you know, pushing reading through it, which is okay, we want them to feel that way. But when you have a cliffhanger, they're forced to kind of stop and think for themselves. And so that's an example of like, you know, maybe thinking, like predicting we think is going to happen, but sometimes a certain cliffhangers when you stop it makes people kind of self evaluate, or I guess ask themselves like, what, what would I do next? Or how would I get out of the situation. And I think those two things are really effective. They also, um, in that sense, you're, you're inviting the audience to participate in the story. So sometimes I feel like one thing I have to watch out for is we might write stories, that audience feels more like a spectator, as opposed to feeling like they're kind of like they're in the story. And so I feel like if you put the cliffhanger in the right spot like that, they're being asked, they're being invited, participate more by pausing and thinking, What's going to happen next. Beyond that, I think they're also good for like, and really emphasizing a moment of suspense or shock, or wherever you put it, because that's a moment the audience has to sit with that a little bit longer. And obviously, if you have it, like at the end of the chapter, even just that whitespace, of flipping, flipping over to the next chapter, you know, it just kind of adds emphasis to whatever you made a cliffhanger about.

Emma Dhesi:

Oh, yeah, yeah. I hadn't thought about it in that, that way, that it's not just about getting them to turn the page, but actually to have a moment to where Have a think and pause and get almost more involved with the story? Because they're thinking about it. Yeah. You mentioned in the article that there are the four types of cliffhangers with that be sort of two of them, or whether they're more times,

September C. Fawkes:

I'm kind of Yeah, well, so I will say if you go read up on cliffhangers, people will categorize them differently. So, I mean, this is the way that I categorize them. And it's kind of based on structure. So um, and story structure, you know, you're going to have the rising action, the climax and the falling action. That's kind of the basic structure. And that will be true of the whole plot. But it's also true, like on smaller things, like within a scene, you're going to have like a climactic moment, or within you know, an act. So maybe the beginning, middle and end, there's going to be a climactic moment within, you know, it's kind of like I think of it as like a Russian nesting doll that you have the smaller you have smaller shapes and size, the bigger shapes anyway, so the climactic moment is sometimes called like a turning point because it turns the direction of the story. So it really can turn two ways you can either have like a revelations, like new information enters the story, that changes our understanding or direction of it. The second way is an action, you know, something happens that changes the direction of the story. So um, even on a scene level, you're gonna have Ideally, if you have things structured well and you have a plot that keeps moving, there's going to be a turning point or climactic moment in each scene. So for example, if I'm writing an example would be like if I'm writing a murder mystery story, the climactic moment of the whole story is probably going to be when we figure out who the killers. But if I'm just looking at a scene, you know, maybe the opening scene is when they first discovered the dead body, well, the climactic moment of that scene will probably be will be when the dead bodies discovered. So that kind of creates a climactic. That's a turning point, right? Everything's going fine, we found a dead body Well, now we need to kind of deal with that. So keeping that in mind, so cliffhangers, I feel like get down to knowing where to cut away in the narrative. Because sometimes I feel like we get this idea of Oh, I just need to throw in something, I need to throw something in really shocking. And then cut away. And like that can work. I'm not saying it can't work. But ideally, if you have a great plot, and you have your structure there, you're going to have lots of great moments like that What matters is when you choose to cut away from the narrative. So with that in mind, I kind of have a broken down four ways based on that. So the first one I call like, a pre point, cliffhanger. So that's going to be before the turning point. So um, an example I'll give, I think a lot of people have seen Scooby Doo. Scooby Doo as an example, right? I think most of us are familiar with the general format of those episodes, basically, the Mr. Gang goes out, they find you know, there's a ghost or there's a banshee or something. And towards the end of the episode, they're gonna mask it and see who it is. So, um, the unmasking is gonna be like the climactic moment the turning point. So a pre point cliffhanger is gonna be okay, Fred's about to pull off the mask, and then we cut away to a commercial. And so that kind of works in the sense that, well, the audience is really invested, they're anticipating a certain outcome, we want to know who the ghost is, or whoever, and then we cut away. So that plays into the example I gave earlier. Well, now we have to sit for a second, and maybe we'll think about who we think it is, or whatever. So I would call that a pre point. Um, the next one I would call a climactic cliffhanger. So when you get to the climactic moment, the turning point, sometimes in some stories, there will actually be more than one turning point. So a common thing that happens in a story is near the climax of the whole story, there will be like a character, the protagonist will have a realization that then allows them to decide like take an action to defeat the antagonist, sometimes those can be reverse, but, you know, they realized something, okay, this is what I need to do to defeat the antagonist. So that's actually two turns, the realization and the action. So you can create a cliffhanger by cutting those in half. So you could have the character has the realization, boom, cliffhanger. And then when we come back, he'll take the action. And so that kind of works in that you have kind of a sense, you know, maybe what the character is going to do next. And we'll have to kind of sit with that for a second. So it's kind of possible to cut it like during the climactic moment that way. Um, the next one, the third one I call the post point, so meaning that it happens just after the claim the climactic point or turning point. So going back to our Scooby Doo example, you know, in this scenario, you know, Fred goes over to the ghost unmasks the ghost. Oh, we see it to George, the electrician, you know, I'm just making this up. The next question we come to is, well, why, you know, why did George do this? What's the motivation? What, what are the ramifications of this? What are the characters going to do now? And so you can cut away, right when we realize, Oh, it's George, the electrician, and that can create a good cliffhanger to you know, it's a little bit different, because we've passed over the turning point. But now we have new questions about well, what's next? Why did he do it? What was his motivation? And so in a situation like that, um, the audience is waiting for, you know, like an explanation, they're waiting for meaning, or what's gonna, you know, what's the new direction going to be, and so you can cut away right there to kind of leave them sitting with that. Um, then the fourth one, I call the post hook cliffhanger. So the idea is so the stick you know, rising action, climax or turning point falling action. If you're working in anything smaller than the whole story, like if you're working with scenes, this is gonna repeat itself. You know, we're gonna have a scene that has rising action climax, falling action, the next scene is gonna have rising action, climax, falling action. And so what happens pins here with the post hook. Usually, at the starting of the scene, you're gonna have like a hook, hopefully anyway, right? We all like hooks. And, um, what you can do is you can cut right after a hook to create a good cliffhanger because a hook is usually going to be in this situation, usually, it's gonna be something like unexpected that disrupts what's going on or what the characters are trying to do. Or might be like laying down the stakes, like, what's that risk, like, Okay, if we don't do this, then this terrible thing is going to happen. And so you can have either of those, and then a cut away right after that create a great cliffhanger. Because now you know, we've had the hook, we want to know, what's going to happen, what's I guess I would say, what's the rising action going to be? What are they going to do? And so it's possible to cut right there. I feel like we see this a lot in series. And a lot of I don't know, you could just look at a lot of movies like Pirates of the Caribbean Marvel does stuff like this, where you have like, the whole story. There's like the falling action, you know, everyone's Okay, we say everyone or whatever. And then there'll be like an additional scene where you see, like, the bad guy is still alive, and he's planning something evil, or, you know, someone else is alive. And they're like, Hey, we you guys, we need to go do this. Now there's this other issue. And then it like cuts off. And so basically, what's happening there is we had the whole story, we've got the climax, we've got the falling action. And then we just barely hit a new hook for a new, like rising action, which is probably going to be the next installment, you know. And so by ending the book right there, like that's a good way to end a book if you want to end on a cliffhanger, because, um, the audience still gets like the full story, and they just get like a hint of what's gonna come next. Whereas if you were to just like actually, like cut off the book, like a climactic moment, or just after it, it probably wouldn't be very satisfying. So if you want to end a book or story with a cliffhanger, it's probably better to, you know, kind of wrap up that plotline, and then just give enough of a hook or a hint of what's going to happen next. And then it. So basically, like, I guess the idea with this is sometimes we think I got to add, I got to add all these cliffhangers or I got to add something really shocking. But the thing is, is when you have these pieces together, those things are already there, you just have to know where to cut it. And so those are like the four places where you could cut away, you might cut to another plotline. Another viewpoint. I mean, if you're doing television, I mean, most people are doing books listening, I'm more into the books, but you know, cut to commercial, whatever. But um, it's it's gonna create, I guess, I feel like it won't create better cliffhangers with less mistakes that can come up when you're just trying to throw and clear fingers. Yeah, so those are the four types.

Emma Dhesi:

I think that's amazing. Because it's, when you when you when you describe it to us like that we got is I'm sure there'll be a lot of listeners going, Oh, yeah, there'll be a little aha moment going on. Yeah, it's not about having to create this false big moment is actually it's already there in the script. It's the editing of the book and positioning or when you as you describe it, that cutaway of the narrative, and just looking for the right point to do that. That's brilliant. And also, then you've got then you do have moments of those big cliffhangers. And also the smaller ones as well. And so you can vary, I guess the pace with the difference in cliffhangers as well.

September C. Fawkes:

Yeah, I think so too. I think one thing to be kind of careful with, if you are just like, gonna throw on Clifffingers, which I'm not gonna say is always bad, because sometimes you get like a great idea for a cliffhanger. And then you can work into the story, you know, but what one thing to be aware of is where a lot of times they go wrong is when cliffhangers writers are just like throwing in the club fingers to just try to get you to keep reading. And like they don't deliver on what's promised. You know, so like, um, you know, we could end a scene will not end but we could have a character come into his house and his loved one is like lying there bleeding, you know, we're like, oh, no. And then you cut away to create a cliffhanger. And then when we come back, oh, it's just catch up. She just has ketchup all over her. You know, it's kind of a letdown. And so you want to make sure that I'm most I would want to say always, but there's always exceptions. You want to deliver on whatever you're saying your cliffhanger is because if you're not delivering on those promises, and it's a letdown too many times, then obvious is gonna start having a problem with that, you know, and you kind of feel cheated, like, Oh, they just threw that in there so that I would keep reading you know, and it feels more shallow. I'm not gonna save that's always wrong to do because in certain genres, I feel like it can be effective. Like I think we've all seen. Well, I think I've seen scary jumpy movies. You know, where maybe there's like a babysitter walking down a dark Hall and there's like creepy music, we're waiting for something to pop out, you know. And then, um, maybe like, we cut away or something, and we come back and like the phone rings, and we're like, oh, you know, that's it. And like, but sometimes it works in situations like that, because it sets the tone and a place with the audience expects, they don't know, when it's gonna be something terrible when it's not, you know. And so you can kind of do some of that, that's where I would say you're kind of breaking the rule intentionally to kind of play around with the audience and what they expect. But even a lot of times in a situation with that, you know, say, okay, so I'll go back to their example, we see, you know, the protagonist goes and sees his loved ones covered in blood cuts away comes back, oh, let's actually catch up, let's kind of a letdown. But what happens is, the audience kind of relaxes right then. So what would be good is then you can then bring in something, you know, really scary, oh, then a monster came out and, you know, attack her. Because we're not the audience isn't expecting because they're like, Oh, it was just catch up. And then bam, you know, and then they're like, Oh, so you can play around with them in different ways to kind of break different roles and create those effects. But generally speaking, I think I'm paying attention to those turning points do you have in your scenes, or where whatever level you're working at, and cutting around those is probably the safest best way to go?

Emma Dhesi:

Oh, love it. No, it's not going to change tack slightly. Oh, and just to say, I will, I'll link to that blog post directly so that people could go and kind of digest it, as well, because there's a lot in there. But I am going to change tack a little bit. And I'd love to just kind of learn a little bit more about you know, you, you what you do and your editing work. And one of the questions I get asked a lot is, okay, what are the types of editing? First of all, because there's, we know that there's quite a few different types. I wonder if you could just walk us through? I think it's three or four different types, and then the ones that you focus on?

September C. Fawkes:

Yeah, okay. So yeah, there are different types of editing, I will say, just as a kind of heads up is, I have found certain people sometimes define them slightly differently from each other. And I feel like there's a lot of things in the writing industry like that, like, like, no, this is called the inciting incident notice, you know, so I'll go through, you know, the way I understand it, but it's worth keeping in mind when you're looking around that somebody might have a slightly different definition. And that doesn't mean they're wrong or terrible. But anyway, so um, there's constant editing, as sometimes called developmental editing. And that's going to be more like the big picture stuff. So like character, you know, character arcs, plot, theme, maybe world building, all those big picture things about like, what the story actually is, that's how I think of it like, What the What is the story at what is the actually, you know, what is it? What's happening in it? What's the content of it? How does it play out, like big picture things, and then below that, you're gonna have a line editing, and align editing is, I think a bit more of the way the story is being told. So like, maybe, you know, sometimes they'll be like, okay, I feel like this chapter needs more voice in it, or this pacing is too fast, or, you know, these descriptions are long or boring, or I'm trying to think of, you need a cliffhanger, maybe, you know, so it's gonna be more about like, how the author's telling the story, and, you know, help them with ideas of how they can tell it better. With books, we're going to be talking, you know, we're going to be dealing with the way it's actually written on the page to, you know, maybe you have too much passive voice or whatever. And so looking at the actual writing and how to make that better. Um, after that you have copy editing. So this is going to be this is often what people think of when they think of editing. This is where you're going to look for things like typos and punctuation and grammatical errors, and things like that, and tighten that stuff up. Maybe sometimes wordiness, sometimes put wordiness more with line editing. But anyway, and then after that, you also have, I guess you have proofreading. Sometimes I see people kind of put those together, but they're slightly different. So proof editing usually happens after copy editing. And it's kind of the last thing where we just, you just go through the whole manuscript, make sure, you know, look, dry, check for typos, again, all those types of little things before it's ready to be published or printed or whatever. So those are the four different types that I would break down.

Emma Dhesi:

Mm hmm. And do you do? Do you do all four of those or do you focus on one more than another?

September C. Fawkes:

Yeah, so I mostly do content and line editing. I can do um, I mean, I can't do the other two, but I can't do i do do copy editing sometimes? Not as much. I just, there's just a lot of little little things to look at with that, which is fine. But I'm more interested in, you know, let's get down. What is the story? How do we make the story itself better? And how do we tell the story better and more effectively, that's really where I like to focus on the most. So that's really what most of my work ends up being. I occasionally do copy editing, I only take on so much at a time of copy editing, just because it's really I find it hard to be focused on all the commas and all the, you know, periods in the right spot for so like that hyper focus for so long, because I'm trying to catch everything. The other stuff is demanding in its own way. But it's kind of more, it's more interesting to me. And I don't have to be like, I guess so perfect. watching all the little comments and thoughts and everything. I like talking about the story, I like helping writers see how they can tell the story more effectively, what works, what doesn't. And I like teaching those concepts to when I work with them.

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah, that's one thing I have learned about working with an editor, which I didn't expect at all, was how much of a craft lesson it is. So every time I send my book for an edit, it comes back with the teaching that you just mentioned. And I learned so much that I'm then able to carry on into my next manuscript. And then that gets edited. And I learned more, and I hadn't, hadn't kind of seen it from that point of view until it happened. And it's, it's invaluable is absolutely invaluable. Because so you know, if someone is listening out there is going to go with a traditional deal. If they managed to get one, that's great, you know, the, the publisher is going to deal with all of those different layers of, of editing, for those that ended up or choose to go down the self publishing route. What from your point of view? Do you think? Because editing is an investment? Undoubtedly, especially when you're just starting out? From your point of view? What do you think is the most important edit that an indie author should prioritize? Would it be the developmental would it be the copy editing lancing? What What do you feel is the most important?

September C. Fawkes:

Oh, well, I feel, um, I kind of depends where the writers act, you know, and their skills. I, to me, I think content and line editing contents, obviously, really important, because if the story isn't effective, then it doesn't matter how it's written. But on the other hand, if it's not written very well, that nobody's gonna care about the story. So it's kind of, to me, it's kind of a balancing act between those two things. Um, if you were on, I mean, say, because it can be an investment, if you were on a tight budget, I would say, you probably want to get content and development, edit editing, and that, usually, when I do that, it's cheaper than online editing, right? Because or copy editing, because in those I'm going through each one and checking each thing, whereas concept developmental, I'm looking at the big picture. So I can look at the big picture and tell you, you know, these are the things you need to fix in the story. If somebody is, you know, tight, financially, I guess, or they want to just get the most out of their money or decide prioritize, well, I might would do sometimes they'll be like, Hey, I'm gonna give you a content edit. And then for a line issues, as opposed to going through each line, I will add some sections in my critique letter about overall issues related to lines that you can then apply through. So that I don't have to comb through everything. Another option I would maybe say is, you know, I'll do a content developmental edit, and then maybe we can do a section of line editing, so that you can see what needs to be improved. And you can apply that through the rest. Okay, um, ideally, you know, I would say, get both content and light editing and copy editing. And, you know, but that can't I understand that that can be quite an investment. But I do think content in line I think, is pretty important. Most people I work with don't have terrible grammar and punctuation. And I think, I mean, I'm not but you guys, but like, if I see a comment on the wrong spot, it's not going to ruin the story for me, you know? And so ideally, I would say get all of them. But if you have to prioritize, I think content and line editing is probably the place to go in my opinion.

Emma Dhesi:

That's good advice for everyone. And no, just in terms of you and what you work with, what you what you enjoy working with. Are there any particular stories and or genres that you like working with? Or are you happy to kind of try everything and anything?

September C. Fawkes:

Yeah, so most of my experiences with fantasy and science fiction and even thinking about that the other day even more Fantasyland stuff. fiction, but that's the those are the genres that I really love to work with. I've done adult, why middle grade for any of those I have worked outside of those genres. I've done just general fiction, and I've done memoirs, and a few other things. But mostly, that's where most of my work is, is science fiction and fantasy. That's kind of where I guess my expertise is, that's where I've done a lot of that type of stuff. And I'm really okay with working for any kind of age, you know, middle middle group, I mean, I don't do picture books, early young readers, so I wouldn't be able to help people with that. But middle grade young adult, and adult I have all worked in. And I'm really people of all levels. I've worked with people who have had bestsellers, and I've worked with people who are, you know, brand new, or people who are just getting into writing that they just want some help with? So all different levels I've helped with? So in that regard, I'm usually pretty open. Yeah.

Emma Dhesi:

Um, do you have any advice for particularly new writers? So say they've written their first manuscript, and they've done all their revisions. But is there anything kind of that they can do in terms of of editing, or revision, that you from experience, you've seen sort of common mistakes that people make or common areas for improvement? Shall we say that we can work on ourselves before hiring an editor so that when we do make that investment, we're, we're getting the best, the best that we can out of that editor?

September C. Fawkes:

Yeah, so one of the common problems I see that I feel like actually doesn't get talked about very much, very much, excuse me, which is why I'm gonna bring it up. And it's a best way I explain it is, a lot of writers tend to want to look backward and their story, meaning they want to look at what happened to the character previously, what happened before the story started, they want to look at the backstory, how we got to this point, and those things all have a place. But a lot of times writers and I think part of this is from like, maybe the writer hasn't yet completely figured out what the story was when they started writing it. And so it's helpful for the writer to look at, okay, where was this character before? How did we get here, or what happened before, this isn't going to be so interesting. And what happens is like, when I sit down the manuscript, like, I feel like we're kind of living in the past a little bit, sometimes writers will start like in the present, and then they'll go into the past for a while, which isn't always wrong. But it starts to kind of feel like the writers focusing more on the past. And I think of it as like, they're looking backward to how what happened before the story started, or what happened previously, the audience actually wants to look forward, present or forward, right? We don't usually want the story to mostly be in the present, you can always break rules. And then they want to anticipate what's going to happen, because that's what's gonna make them want to keep reading, they want to see Oh, what's the outcome? What's this going to be? What's this going to be? And so um, my friends has a lot of new writers, they tend to look at, well, how did we get here? How did this character become this way? The audience likes more of this is where we are now, here's some things that here are some stakes on the line and what could possibly happen. And the thing is about the future is the, you know, we don't know what could happen hasn't happened yet. And so it's more interesting, and it draws the audience in, because it's like, Okay, I'm trying to think of an example, if she gets invited to this party, you know, she can meet this guy she has a crush on, or if she doesn't, then it's going to create another issue. I'm just throwing an example. And so when you have something that has like, okay, yep, this one element that has two different outcomes for the future, we're certainly more interested in seeing what happens in the present, because we want to see what ends up happening. And so it gets the audience to anticipate the rest of the story. So they'll want to keep rooting and they'll want to know what happens. And once they start caring about that more, they're going to be a little more interested in what happened before, if that makes sense. Okay, so yeah, that's one of the things that I would say probably easier said than done but

Emma Dhesi:

front loading, you know, sometimes I've heard that phrase use that, like in the beginning of a story. The waiter piles, everything, the whole history of the character, and everything that led them up to this point, and then move on. Is that was that what you're talking about? Or is it something different?

September C. Fawkes:

Well, sorry, repeat clarify what you mean.

Emma Dhesi:

So I've heard this term front loading when you Front Load the story with everything that's happened to the character up until the point that we start the actual book, or you know, and so we get their characters whole back history, their family, their schooling, everything. And in that first chapter or two, before we start the story, is that the same thing that you're you're talking about now, or is it two different things?

September C. Fawkes:

Yeah, well, kind of depends how how it's done. Um, I guess ideas, you don't want to spend too much time just talking about like the past and the backwards, you want to be anticipating what could happen when you're writing it, it's okay if you as a writer know that. But if you're putting in like a huge encyclopedia entry about, you know, this character, how they were born, and then grew up and all this stuff before the story actually starts, it's usually very hard to pull that off and be interesting. It's not impossible. So you know, cuz I know people are gonna be like, Well, someone, so did this, and it worked. Like, yeah, it works. But a lot of times, it's difficult to pull that off. It's more interesting. Usually, if you start in the present. And then when, like, if you've heard the term stakes, I think of stakes as like, potential outcomes, you know, if this happens, then this happens. So if you can put something like that in it, that's a little more interesting. And then you can kind of weave in some of the background stuff as you move forward in the story. That kind of make sense. Yeah, yeah. So I mean, I wouldn't say I wouldn't say it's always wrong to start the other way. But it's very difficult to pull off, especially if you're a newer writer. And it's usually more interesting if you get the other way.

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah. Yeah. Gosh, you've given us so much today. And I stole the stuff about cliffhangers. And then you know, about the, the sort of those common mistakes that you've seen those problem areas, you've given us a lot of to think about and a lot to kind of work on for our own manuscripts. And thank you very much. If any of our listeners are kind of interested in finding out a bit more about how they can work with you, what's the best way of doing that?

September C. Fawkes:

Yeah, so um, you can find me if you're interested in editing services, you can go to Fawkesediting.com, it's kind of just where I have all my editing services, info, my blog articles and everything is just Septembercfawkes.com But if you can't remember, like, if you can't remember my name, for some reason, you can also get to it by going to write better with an editor.com, and that's gonna pull up all my blog articles or some other references and things you can look at on there. Other than that, I'm on most social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr. I don't know that all of them. But anyway, so you can also find me there.

Emma Dhesi:

But yeah, in September, it's been so lovely speaking to you and finding out, you know all about what you do. Thank you very much for your time.

September C. Fawkes:

Thank you for having me.

Emma Dhesi:

Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you find that helpful and inspirational. Now, don't forget to come on over to facebook and join my group, turning readers into writers. It is especially for you if you are a beginner writer who is looking to write their first novel. If you join the group, you will also find a free cheat sheet there called three secret hacks to write with consistency. So go to Emmadhesi.com/turning eaters into writers. Hit join. Can't wait to see you in there. All right. Thank you. Bye bye.