When we introduced you to the Story Grid methodology at the beginning of the series, we said:
At Story Grid, this is not a haphazard process. We don’t read the manuscript, randomly pointing out things we feel are “off.” Instead, we put the manuscript through a rigorous diagnostic process designed to identify specific problems with the manuscript and then provide clear, actionable steps to fix the problems.
By now, you’ve seen this is a systematic process that provides clear, predictable results. This process involves lots of steps using many of the Story Grid tools:
- Editor’s Six Core Questions Analysis
- Story Grid Scene Spreadsheet Analysis
- Manuscript Competency Grade
- Recommended Next-Steps Letter
- Masterwork Study Assignment
- Story Grid Foolscap
- Heroic Journey 2.0 Stages
- Heroic Journey 2.0 Archetypes
- 20 Skeletal Scenes
- Global Genre Value Shifts
At this point, if the writer and editor have worked together through this process, the manuscript will have moved to a Level 5.
Remember, a Level 5 manuscript works at both the macro and micro levels. It has a solid story structure and meets the chosen genre’s conventions and obligatory moments. It includes all the necessary macro elements, and the scenes work, dramatize specific value shifts, and abide by the Five Commandments of Storytelling.
This is a publishable story.
The Story Grid Extensive is meant to push the Level 5 manuscript to the top of its genre category and approach Masterwork status.
How to Complete a Story Grid Extensive Analysis
As you can imagine, the work at this level is highly specific and customized for the writer and the current manuscript.
The Story Grid editor will use all the tools in their editing toolbox to identify how the manuscript can be leveled up in specific and impactful ways.
Between the final developmental call of the Intensive and reengaging with the editor, the writer will have created a new draft of the manuscript incorporating all the changes agreed upon during the Intensive.
The editor will now read the new draft, then revisit and update all of the deliverables for the Diagnostic and Intensive based on the writer’s revisions to the manuscript. Often, by fixing one thing, the writer may break something else that often has an easy fix. The editor will ensure that these problems are found and noted.
From this analysis, the editor will generate the STORY GRID INFOGRAPHIC (like the one that appears on the cover of The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know), showing the writer the shape of their story from scene to scene and from beginning hook through ending payoff. This tool brings the scene spreadsheet and Foolscap together to reveal the beating heart of the story.
After reviewing the Infographic, the writer will have the option to revise one last time and have the editor review that draft.
We usually recommend as many as three more months of Developmental Editing as the writer works to make the final changes to their draft.
What’s Next? Time to Publish?
When is a manuscript done and ready to publish? At some point continued work crosses a point of diminishing returns.
Once the changes from the Diagnostic, Intensive, and Extensive are incorporated into the manuscript, the editor will read the manuscript again. The goal is to find remaining tweaks that will enhance the novel before locking the manuscript and moving to publication.
A Story Grid editor, while at the service of the writer, will know when a project has reached a publishable state and recommend the writer stop working on the manuscript.
How to Edit a Manuscript
As you can see, editing a manuscript does not have to be a haphazard process that delivers random, vague advice.
When approached correctly, it becomes a systematic process to use tools to identify problems and offer proven solutions.
At this point, you may be thinking one of three things.
1. I want to do this for my manuscript.
While it is hard gain the perspective to see your own writing clearly, there is always something to be learned from evaluating your own work.
We suggest reading The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know as a starting point to implement the above tools for your own story.
2. I need an editor to do this for my manuscript.
If you are a writer, working with a Story Grid Editor through this process is the best option. We have a group of Story Grid Certified Editors that have all been trained to apply this methodology and can serve as your mentor to help you identify, break down, and solve your storytelling problems.
3. I want to become a Story Grid Editor.
If you would like to learn this systematic approach to editing, we recommend you join the ranks of Story Grid Certified Editors.Click Here to Learn More
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