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My Editor Says the Nicest Things

She really does. In the front of my forthcoming book, she said this:

"Wanders Far––An Unlikely Hero’s Journey" was a treat for me to work on as editor because of its uniqueness. It is often the case in our lives that we read the same story over and over again, variations on a theme. Many stories seem to follow particular trajectories, as if written in paint-by-numbers. By contrast, Wanders Far is not just another variation on a story that you or I have read dozens of times before. It is a richly imagined world and cast of characters that arrives on the scene with a bounty of gifts for the reader to devour.

What is its genre––historical fiction, supernatural fiction, adventure, or mystery? It is all of them, and if you are a fan of any of these genres, Wanders Far will speak to you. The world of Wanders Far is both grounded in “reality” as we know it, and the supernatural. It is a mystical adventure that readers of adult fiction and young adult fiction alike can leap into.

This story and its characters transcend time. The book begins in the year 1,125, but the story is not constrained by its time period. The characters are written with such heart and emotional transparency that a contemporary reader can easily connect and resonate with them. The characters’ journeys speak to the human experience throughout the ages. In the world of Wanders Far, we find elements of adventure, democracy, matriarchy, tragedy, triumph, family bonding, love, leadership, succession, community-building, and participatory decision-making. We also find elements of the otherworldly. I won’t spoil the story for you by saying more on that score, but read on and prepare to feel the shiver up your spine.

And as for the ending? Do yourself a favor and resist the temptation to skip ahead. Page by page, the author leads us down a path that culminates in an ending you will not soon forget.

Of course, she’s saying those nice things publicly... She also said very nice things privately, lots of words of encouragement. Whenever I’d get a batch of her review comments, I couldn’t wait to see what she liked, what she praised, and what she wanted me to do more of. I picked through those comments she left me, and here are some of my favorites:

  • I loved Wanders Far (both the name and the character), and I appreciated how his story followed an archetypal “hero’s journey.” There’s something about the hero’s journey that is very powerful for readers; there’s a reason this archetype is so deeply entrenched in storytelling throughout history. It seems to me that in this particular moment of our history and society, we are particularly in need of stories in which we can identify a hero and follow his path as he encounters obstacles and survives them, flourishes, transforms, and takes his new understandings back to his community to serve a larger good. We are in need of characters like this that we can believe in and invest in, characters who embody qualities we admire. Wanders Far is a character that readers can invest in; he is both accessible and special. The other characters are important to too, but I see this as Wanders Far’s story, and as such the other characters are there to support his story and in various ways, propel him on his journey.

  • This title is terrific! It really grabs my attention and makes me want to read on.

  • I like Wanders Far as a name. It’s perfect for him and captures not only his character, but the spirit of the book.

  • I like that.

  • I love this. (Complete with three princely purple hearts.)

  • The prose style and “voice” is strong.

  • I really like the tone and the content of this opening section. None of the information is in excess, everything is useful and clear. Well done.

  • This entire section and storyline is FANTASTIC, written with depth and sensitivity and it adds even more dimension to the character and story. I love it.

  • This is useful because it adds tension to the story—the treat of going hungry and the urgency to leave.

  • Terrific description. Your writing gets more and more musical and vivid. Really wonderful.

  • Excellent description.

  • This is very moving.

  • Terrific sentence.

  • Ahhhh! Goosebumps.

  • The writing here is wonderful, really beautiful, particularly the description of his hair tickling her chin.

  • Great. The additional sentence nicely does the job. I think you can leave this as-is.

  • This is good foreshadowing.

  • Haha! I love the moments of humor that you include.

  • I love this sentence… and then… Another fantastic sentence.

  • Great detail.

  • I really like this paragraph and appreciate your attention to Gentle Breeze’s interior world and feelings. It adds important nuance to her character and to the situation you are describing. DIMENSION is so important with characters, you know? It adds dimension that we see her wincing and feeling pangs about a brutal situation.

  • Hahahahaha! What a good and surprising moment. Totally unexpected.

  • Excellent additions. Beautiful, lucid writing.

  • Good interiority here. I feel invited into his perspective and I feel sympathetic to his plight.

  • This is a surprisingly tender and moving paragraph. Surprising because it wasn’t my initial take on Blue Arrow, and this development of his feelings and thoughts makes me really like him and care even more about his storyline.

  • Wow, this is heartbreaking.

  • This paragraph is wonderful!

  • I love this. It’s good writing, it’s a good moment, and also I just love Wanders Far to the core. He’s the most lovable character.

  • Something that I love about this aspect of the story is that it looks at the gifts and burdens of being a person with great empathy and unusual vision. You really nail it.

  • Beautiful writing.

  • Gorgeous. Your prose gets more and more beautiful the more you write. Such a lyrical sensibility.

  • There’s something so exciting to me about seeing his visions, and I think it is because you’ve done a fantastic job describing things from HIS vantage point. It adds a wonderful layer of mystery and appropriate strangeness and feels exciting.

  • All of this is terrific, and maximizes this aspect of his hero’s journey.

  • I can completely understand and empathize with this feeling and experience. You’ve articulated it very eloquently.

  • So sweet. Makes me smile. So funny, sweet, and real.

  • Haha! Good. Very funny scene.

  • So beautifully worded.

  • I love so many things about this book and was so impressed by the ways in which you BUILT this world. It is a world that I felt enchanted by and eager to return to as a reader. That is all a result of very good storytelling.

  • Wow! What an ending. It gives me goosebumps and sends a quick rush of tears to my eyes.

  • I absolutely LOVE the ending and the final line gave me goosebumps––something that doesn’t happen to me very often when I’m reading.

  • I was honestly stunned by some of the storylines and details that I didn't see coming. The layers of mysticism really resonate with me, and I think they will resonate with your readers.

Sometimes getting feedback can be rough. It’s nice to hear the praise, of course. However, for every touchingly kind comment, there were many, well… let’s call them opportunities for improvement. Death by a thousand commas—commas where commas don’t belong, and commas missing where commas should be. It wasn’t just commas, though. There were lots of places where she sent me back to add to the story, re-write sections, make it better and I’m so glad she did. If the reader only knew how much she improved this book by being its editor, I’m sure they would want to thank her too.

Thank you so much, Lindsay Fitzgerald for all your help with this book. Let’s get to work on another one soon.

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