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Welcome back to Editors Unedited! This week we’re talking to Eve Seymour, who’s been with Jericho Writers longer than Jericho Writers has been called Jericho Writers. (I may need a good editor myself...)  

In her 11 years working with us, Eve has worked on crime and thriller novels across all their many subgenres, spy fiction, and action/adventure novels. Eve will tell you straight-up what isn’t working, whilst letting you know what makes your novel shine.  

Here’s everything you need to know from Eve:  

Q: So that we can learn a bit about you, tell us about one writing-related thing you’re proud of, and one non-writing related thing you’re proud of.  

Fourteen published novels.  

Big picture answer: my large family.  

Small stuff: In the past I only had to look at a plant and it would keel over and die. Now, bewilderingly, I find myself green-fingered.  It’s deeply satisfying. 

Q: What brought you to the world of writing? What keeps you writing?  

I fell into it! It wasn’t a conscious decision, but something that evolved when I started ‘noodling.’ Whispered softly, it took me roughly seven years before I obtained agent representation. In other words, there are a number of manuscripts that wound up being destroyed (thank goodness!) However, with each story and draft, I learnt so much about what constitutes strong storytelling.  

As for what keeps me writing: addiction, obsession and escapism.  

Q: Tell me about what you're currently working on.  

Not on your life! I’ve written a crime novel very recently and it’s currently with my agent... Watch this space... 

Q: You’ve just received a new manuscript to critique: what’s the first thing you do? Walk us through your editing process.  

I like to dive straight in, as if I’ve picked out the story from a shelf in a bookshop. Straightaway, I’ll be looking for the ‘hook’ and whether the opening chapter is sufficiently appealing. Thereafter, I read with a very objective eye.  

Technically, I have the manuscript on one half of the screen, the critique on the other so that I can make notes all the way through the reading process regarding characterisation, plot structure, pace and tension, as well as style and dialogue, marketability and specific suggestions for improvement. Usually, 'General Comment' is addressed quite quickly because the strengths and weaknesses of any story are usually evident from the first couple of hours of reading. 'Conclusion', as one might expect, is left right until the end.  

Apart from reading covering submission material so that I know what the story is about, I never read a synopsis until I’ve finished the entire manuscript. The only exception is when I can’t follow the story, or there is a contradiction, in which case I may refer to the synopsis to guide me through.  

Q: How do you manage being on the other side of the editorial process – when your own writing is being edited? What should an author who is receiving critique for the first-time be aware of? 

Editing is a huge part of a professional writer’s life so it’s something that needs to be grasped even if, initially, you may not like it! I’ve lost count of the times I’ve disagreed loudly and complained to the sky! However, if enough time passes and, following a chat with my agent and/or editor, I always wind up (sheepishly) thinking the ‘negative’ comment was pretty insightful. Better still, it spurs me on to revise and redraft. Twice, I’ve completely disembowelled a novel and, although sticking to the main theme, crafted something quite different to the original concept. And with no regrets.  

As for the author receiving a critique for the first time: Criticism, however constructive, hurts. There is no getting away from it. You’ve poured an enormous amount of time and love into your story and anything less than a glowing opinion feels like an affront. BUT, like a good friend whom you trust, having a solid editor batting for you – and we all are – is essential. It’s our mission to ensure that your story is the best it can be. Advice is based on years of experience of an industry that is like no other. We’ve all been through highs and lows, even as published authors, so listening to advice, and acting on it if it resonates with you, is worthwhile.    

Q: What writing do you get most excited about working as an editor on? What really makes you intrigued by a submission?  

A high concept premise - the most difficult to pull off. I also love anything with an original twist, whether it’s police procedural or spy fiction. Both genres are quite saturated so, again, it’s a challenge for a new writer, but I love to see someone having a go and, if I can help a writer to succeed, so much the better.   

Q: What do you read for pleasure? Is this different to the writing you enjoy working on?  

American crime fiction and British spy fiction are my ‘go-to’s.’ I also love writers like Jo Nesbo and Pierre Lemaitre. I have my favourites and can’t get enough Dennis Lehane and Mick Herron. My secret pleasure is historical fiction. Any era will do. Very rarely will I read a novel twice, but Conn Iggulden’s Genghis Khan series is seriously tempting.   

Q: Finally, if you could only give one piece of advice to all aspiring authors, what would it be?  

READ. Read anything and everything you can lay your hands on and study how writers craft their stories. Anything you may be a little weak on, pay special attention. When I was trying to get published it was flagged up that my dialogue was flaky. I spent months just studying dialogue and it paid off. Obviously, you’re going to read your chosen genre, but also read outside it because principles of strong storytelling are universal.  

Is your manuscript ready for a professional critique? Eve is one of 70+ Jericho Writers editors, so we’ll always find your perfect match.    

Head over to our editing hub to see the services that we have on offer. Not sure which service to opt for? Drop an email to info@jerichowriters.com and we’ll be happy to discuss which service would be right for you and your manuscript.

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