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  • Writer's pictureHolly Flynn

Simply Spellbound Edits: A Truly Delightful Experience

As a writer, submitting your work to someone you don't know is a scary process fraught with anxious thoughts: How will my work be received? Will they like it? Is it good enough for someone else to read? These thoughts are even more rampant when you're sharing it with an industry professional to look for all of the spelling, grammar, usage issues, and the larger picture pieces such as plot, character development, and pacing. I've done several feedback sessions with editors, agents, and other professionals as a result of social media "giveaways" and contests (mostly on Twitter, one of the writing community hubs), and I must say--my experience with Heather from Simply Spellbound Edits has by far been the best experience I've had!

With that said, I came across Heather's page on Instagram (@simplyspellboundedits) a few weeks ago. For the month of August, she generously offered to review up to 10,000 words of a manuscript in return for honest feedback regarding her work. At the time, my opening chapters weren't quite ready for review, though a friend of mine submitted her work to Heather and gave her a glowing review. I knew I had to tighten up my opening chapters to submit to her as well, so I spent about two weeks getting everything ready and touched base with Heather once I felt ready. From the start of our conversation, she was warm and welcoming, and her love for reading, craft, and editing shined through. I specifically asked if she could offer feedback regarding my opening chapter and whether it was a good enough "hook" and also whether my character development was working. Heather kindly agreed. Shortly after, I submitted my first four chapters for her review, totaling roughly 7,000 words.

Before starting her edits, Heather walked me through the process of her editing process and style and encouraged me to keep in touch and ask questions throughout the week if I had any. She updated me once she had finished her initial read through, and I loved seeing how she'd already connected so closely with my characters. Toward the end of the week, Heather communicated that she'd have her work back to me by the weekend, and I eagerly awaited her email with the final documents.

To say I was impressed by Heather's detailed feedback is an understatement. She provided a lengthy stylesheet in which she outlined her general reaction to my opening chapters, along with a few suggestions of how to tweak story and plot points. One of those points (a character description), was something I'd been struggling with, and Heather identified the perfect spot for me to go back and weave it through. She also offered character growth suggestions for one of my antagonists, and this allowed me to start brainstorming ways to tweak one of the opening chapters to give him more nuance. In the stylesheet, Heather also categorized things like my characters (and notes on those characters), as well as important names, places, and objects. Additionally, she provided feedback using the Chicago Manual of Style and cited excerpts pertaining to various words and phrases I used (and what the correct usage should be, according to the manual). This portion of the stylesheet helped me understand some things I'd never known, such as the difference between "blonde" (for a girl) and "blond" (for a boy). Heather also wrote out a general timeline of my opening chapters, detailing the main plot points, including ones that happened before the book began (for example, my protagonist's father disappears before the opening of the book). This was especially helpful, as a bird's-eye view of the action provides a good idea of whether the chapters are organized correctly within the timeline and whether the plot is moving forward accordingly.

Working with Heather was a true pleasure. Aside from the actual edits, she provided a plethora of feedback and offered a trained, objective eye to not only spelling, grammar and usage, but also plot, character development, and style. Her detailed work shows her passion for the subject matter, and not only that, but she treats manuscripts with the same care and love as the author. It was truly delightful to see her become as invested in the story and characters as me. This experience has cemented my decision to work with Heather in the future once my manuscript is complete. If you have the chance to work with her, let this review be the sign that it's well worth it. Heather will make you and your manuscript feel right at home.

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