"FtQ" is shorthand for my blog on the craft of writing, Flogging the Quill. I write novels, and I edit them. You can sample what I do editorially in the Flogometer category. If what you see resonates with you, then I may be able to help your manuscript with fresh eyes.
I offer what I call "story editing," an editing approach also called "developmental" editing. I was a story editor when I wrote screenplays for an animation studio, and that fits what I do best. For more detail, see my credentials page.
What that doesn't mean:
While I will catch 95% or better of grammatical and punctuation shortcomings, certainly at a professional writing level, I'm not a copyeditor who is expert at all aspects of grammar and punctuation. My real strengths lie with story and narrative craft.
What it does mean:
I can help you with:
- Tightening the writing (you may see lots of adjectives and adverbs go away)
- Story flow & pace, rooting out dead spots
- Plot flaws
- Staging action
- Description (that also characterizes)
- Character development
- Dialog that moves the story
- Dialog tags and action beats
- Use of active voice
- Proper word usage
- Clarity and weak word choices
- Overuse of words or characters
- Sentence structure
- Coaching & instruction on writing craft
The first step is a quick, free look at your first two chapters (or prologue & first chapter) to see if it's a project that I want to take on. I look for a level of writing and storytelling ability that shows clear promise for improvement.
A diagnostic option: I will do a diagnostic analysis and a detailed critique report on the full manuscript plus a line edit of the first chapter. The critique will be 2 or 3 single-spaced pages, and addresses all key issues of plot, characterization, writing, etc. This reading and analysis is required before coaching and editing options. Price is below.
Coaching and editing options: After a diagnostic analysis, I will work with you to decide if what your manuscript needs is a full line edit, or creative thought-starters for solving narrative problems, or coaching on issues specific to your manuscript (voice, verb tense, adverbs, description, characterization, plot, etc.). The diagnostic fee counts towards the cost of editing and/or coaching. If I think your manuscript needs little or no further hands-on editing, I'll say so. Price is below.
See information about fees below.
In line editing and coaching, I use Word's Comment and Track Changes/WordPerfect's Comment and Annotation features so that you will see every bit of editing. With comments come instruction and coaching.
For a full edit, I subscribe to the technique of a fine editor, Dave King, that teaches you while the editing happens.
- I edit the first 50 pages and send them to you. They will include coaching as needed.
- You revise those pages plus the next 50 pages and then email them to me.
- I review the pages you've just revised, and then edit the new pages. And so on. By the end of the manuscript, you will have learned a great deal about self-editing and writing craft.
Testimonials from a few of my clients:
"Some editors try to impose their own style and taste upon a writer's work. Ray doesn't. His job is to make you the best writer you can be. He has an eagle eye for plot inconsistencies–the minor (and sometimes, major) goofs that make a reader stumble. His suggestions were invariably helpful in polishing my manuscript. I recommend Ray to any writer who wants a professional, sharp, and considerate editor."
"Ray Rhamey pays attention. In going through my novel manuscript, he invested more work, more expertise and more insight than I have learned to expect from editors. His observations on everything from sentence construction to story line showed me where I wasn't doing what I intended. His suggestions were helpful in simplifying the narrative and isolating its problems. He was able to see where I was saying too much and where I had said too little. He brought my attention to factual details that needed research. He spotted lazy word usage. He kept me aware of the work's strengths as well as its weaknesses.
"In short, Ray brought understanding, curiosity and a broad competence to his task. I was paid to edit for a number of years, and I fully recognize the focus and intensity that Ray gives to the job."
Richard Patrick Gibbons
"I was using friends as editors, all of them people with some knowledge of storytelling–an actress, a business magazine editor, an amateur writer and an English teacher. I thought that would cover the spectrum of problems I might create in my story.
"I did get good comments, but the criticism was not very constructive. All my friends felt there was 'something missing,' or 'something is not working.' While I knew they were right, I didn't know exactly what was bothering us.
"This was where Ray came in–his critique pinpointed difficulties in the story, but the best part about Ray's critique was specific proposals of how to remedy the problems. His suggestions allowed me to move from where I was stuck and take the story to a higher level. Now I feel it is truly ready to be sent out.
"I learned a lot from Ray's critique and I will definitely use his services in the future."
"You have really started something! I'm into a whole major re-write of the first 150 pages of my book. But I'm enjoying it! I've taken a critical look at each chapter and I'm working on ramping up the tension in each chapter, and lots of new ideas have suggested themselves as I play with the plot. (I haven't gotten anywhere near writing the new chapters to fix the "deux ex machina" problem.) It's probably going to take me another 6 months.
"I am so glad that I did the edit – it was money well spent and a real education working with a professional. You helped greatly in every single area – from grammar to characterization to plotting. I'm taking the lessons I have learned and I am applying them to my second WIP."
"I'm quite stunned really because your edit and advice are so utterly fantastic! I paid for an edit of a different novel a few years ago and was thoroughly disappointed, but you really hit the mark with everything you said (and you spotted straight away one of my main weaknesses: scene-setting - I can see it in my head and struggle to get it onto the page!). I was really blown away."
Services & pricing
1. First-chapter critique & edit: (up to 15 pages): Does your novel get off to a running start, does it compel reading? (like critiques on Flogging the Quill, but much more detailed line editing and deeper critique). Price: $50
2. Diagnostic analysis: I read the novel and give a detailed report on strengths and areas where I see a need for improvement. Includes line editing of the first chapter and detailed page notes on craft/story issues I see in the read-through. Price: multiply word count times .005. Critique fee will be subtracted from cost of subsequent editing and coaching work.
3. Coaching on specifics: (less than a full edit): After doing a novel critique, I'll determine a fee based on what you want done and the amount of work anticipated.
4. Full story edit: line and manuscript editing on all aspects of the novel as described above that involves two complete journeys through the manuscript plus a comprehensive critique letter. Fee for diagnostic reading is subtracted. Price: depends on amount of work to be done, but a minimum of your word count times .025.
No editor can guarantee publication. While I can help you raise your story and writing to a professional, publishable level, I cannot guarantee that an agent will represent your novel, nor that it will be published. Any editor that guarantees that is, well, not offering a realistic picture.
Why is that? A simple, profound reason--ultimately, it's a story that an agent/editor
thinks will sell that counts. Professional writing is the price
of entry, and not enough to sell a book. It's the story.
That "will sell" criteria is hugely subjective, and will vary from agent to agent, from editor to editor. Many successful novels have been passed by agents and editors, and many well-written novels never make the cut.
That's the business.