Expert Editing, Dynamic Coaching

Even the smartest people can have trouble putting themselves onto paper. You need an expert on your side.

I’m Mary DeDanan, a professional editor and writer with decades of experience.

I approach editing as the gentle art of invisible improvement. My aim is a final draft that’s clear, clean, concise, and irresistibly engaging — and that preserves your distinctive voice.

No matter what your project, make sure your words will speak well of you … because quality tells.

Email me for a free consultation and sample edit.

a brief vita

I’ve worked with individual authors for the past fifteen years, as well as nonprofits such as Fire Safe Sonoma and Earth Activist Training. Previously I freelanced with Random House, Routledge, UC Press, Stanford Press, Jossey-Bass, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, was staff copy editor for Callboard magazine, and toiled at the decidedly for-profit Providian Bancorp advertising department.

In a parallel track in the theater world, I was founding literary manager and dramaturg at Z Space theater development center, before that literary manager at the venerable Magic Theatre in San Francisco, and I started at the literary office of La Jolla Playhouse. Working with playwrights and new plays in progress has much in common with the developmental editing that I now do for authors.

As a journalist and theater critic, I published well over a hundred feature articles, essays, and reviews in publications such as the newsweekly Pacific Sun, the online magazine West by Northwest, and trade journals Callboard and American Theatre.

I earned a degree in creative writing from UCSD back in the Neolithic era of 1990. I’ve kept my fiction chops up to date through many intensive fiction classes at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, the Loft Literary Center, and the Mendocino Writers’ Conference.

My extensive experience means you get a rich mix of solid wordsmithing techniques, brightened by artistic discernment and honed by real-world knowledge of what works.

editing means options

Different writers need different edits.

Line and copy edits are appropriate for every style of manuscript. In a line edit I tighten and trim prose, clarify meaning, maintain internal consistency, cast out clichés, rein in jargon, and find alternatives for overused words. With a copy edit I correct grammar, syntax, usage, spelling, and punctuation, as well as formatting problems. Often line and copy edits work together to make your text spark and sparkle.

In a developmental edit, I analyze what’s working and what’s not, then suggest ways to revise your material. I’ll show you how to balance your intentions with the needs of your readers, and repair the structural gaps. A developmental edit fixes the big picture. Naturally, that means something quite different in a novel than a nonfiction book.

What level of editing is right for your project? Many manuscripts need the full monty: developmental, line, and copy editing. A few texts are beautifully styled line by line, but meander off track; these might call for a developmental edit only, with a final polish. Some manscripts are already well-structured and read clearly, and simply need a copy clean up. See more on your editorial options here.

When you work with me, you get the “just right” edit you need, for the same low hourly rate. You don’t pay extra for different types of editing.

how coaching works

Don’t yet have a manuscript? I can help you turn a morass of raw ideas into succinct, convincing prose, while developing your own voice. Let’s strategize to manage procrastination, move past blocks and avoidance, and rewire your habits. Maybe you need someone to set deadlines for you, and really mean it. Perhaps you need compassionate support and direction. Whatever it takes, together we’ll bring out your best and see your writing projects through to completion.

tech notes