States of Terror, JS Breukelaar

Manuscript editing, short story and novel development

In addition to writing, I edit manuscripts and short stories and occasionally teach—at LitReactor, Gotham Writers Workshop, and other places, and I run a novel writing workshop in Sydney..

“I took this class last time it was offered. J.S. knows her stuff. Her lectures are challenging, entertaining and cover nearly any aspect of weird fiction you can think of. I still go back to read them when I’m feeling stuck or need some inspiration. The homework is great also, and her feedback is invaluable. Highly recommended!” —Cory C.

I also run online writing workshop of six to eight members. These attract writers from all over the globe, mainly those interested in writing weird or fantastical fiction. It’s a great way to workshop stories, discuss craft issues and hone technique. Again, hit me if you’re interested, on jsb42@me.com.

I am often asked if I offer manuscript development or editing services for short stories and novels. The answer is yes. I specialize in speculative, or weird, or fantastical fiction—but welcome all types of fiction and non-fiction, including memoirs. So hit me up at jsb42@me.com once you’ve read the FAQs below.

Q. I’ve written a short story that’s had so many rejections, even I don’t want it any more. Can I give it to you?
A. Yes, just so long as I can give it back after it’s scared the dog and splattered Spaghetti O’s all over the rug.

Q. I’ve just finished a writing workshop and I came away with some pretty good material. Can you help me shape it into a story?
A. I can tell you what’s working and what’s not. I can make suggestions to improve it. I can turn it into a pretty track-changes graphic. I can offer hints on grammar and punctuation that will immediately make you look like less of an amateur in the eyes of future editors. I can suggest markets. I know people who know people.

Q. Wow, that sounds like a big deal. I hate Skype because my teeth are stupid. And coffee shops make me nervous. And also my printer is haunted. How do we do this?
A. You email me the file. I give it a snappy little line edit, which I email back to you. I attach a report telling you what I love about your story, and suggest areas that need fixing—structure, character, plot, language, or setting. I love to write these reports—it’s a great way to procrastinate from my own writing, so you often get more than you bargained for.

Reading (and rereading and re-rereading) your extensive and remarkably deep comments. I am wowed. Had to look up a few words – picaresque? Accepting 95% of proposed changes… so far. SG.

“Working with JS Breukelaar on a short story was a kind of masterclass in thinking differently about my work. She broke open paragraphs, discovered new directions, turned sentences upside down and shook out the flaws. And she’s as fastidious, considerate and patient as they come.” —Sam Twyford-Moore, co-editor of Cutwater Literary Anthology and curator of the Sydney Emerging Writers Festival.

Q. Christ on a corn dog? What don’t you do?
A. I don’t call your mom for you and I don’t write your stories for you. They’re fun to get to know, and I often get quite attached to them, but they best part about babysitting is giving that little tyke back and trusting that one day it’ll sprout a byline.

Q. How long can I leave my work with you? I have to go to the mall, and meet my broker, and pick up the dry cleaning, and there’s a spin class at 6.
A. For stories, anything from a day to a week, depending on my schedule.

Q. Fees, please?
A. $150 per short story up to 6000 words, $200 for stories between 6K and 10K. Longer than 10,000 words, we need to talk.

Q. No freebies?
A. Yes. The first page is free.

Q. And what about novels? Do you edit manuscripts?
A. Yes. See above.

Q. Do you develop manuscripts?
A. Yes.

Q. What’s the difference?
A. Sometimes novels just need an edit. Other times there are issues with the plot, or with structure that we need to work on together, or an under-developed idea that needs… developing. As well as summarizing these things in a written report, we’ll look at fixing, and revising stuff together, as we go.

Q. What about if my work is very much in progress? I’m sick of it already, to tell the truth.
A. This comes under the category of mentoring.

Q. Do you mentor writers through the completion of their novel?
A. Yes, I take it as far as their will and their wallets allow. Let’s talk.

Q. How long does that take? Stephen King time or George Saunders time?
A. For editing, I try and turn around a novel manuscript in about a month. Mentoring’s different. We’ll work out a schedule, maybe set up a system of revision and so on.

Q. Speaking of which?
A. I have a schedule of hourly rates, which varies depending on the project, on whether or not you’re a student or a veteran, and other things. If I spend ten hours on your novel, that’s ten hours times the hourly rate.

Q. And….
A. First five pages are free.

Q. PayPal okay?
A. PayPal’s great.

Q. Your email again?
A. jsb42@me.com, or find me here

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