Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Writers' Services: Catriona Troth

Catriona Troth


After more than twenty years writing and editing technical material for a largely non-technical audience, I have made the shift into freelance writing and am now writing about the subjects dearest to my heart. As a STRUCTURAL EDITOR, I help people find the strongest way to present their ideas and the clearest language in which to present them. I have helped people formulate the best structure for their non-fiction books, and also provided crits for fiction MS with an eye to structure and consistency.

Meet Catriona Troth:

What kind of editing do you do?
I like to take an eagle-eye view of an MS. In another life, I spent twenty years writing reports based on technical data  for a non-technical audience many of whom did not have English as a first language but who needed to understand the implications of the results.  It gave me a good grounding in how to organise information so that it flows logically, and how to express it in a way that is clear, concise and unambiguous.

When it comes to fiction, I am good at spotting where scenes need to be reorganised, and I will home in on inconsistencies and anachronisms.  Just don't ask me to do detailed, line by line proofreading!

How do you approach working with a client on a manuscript? If it's a writer whose work I don't know, I like to have an initial meeting (which these days can be via Skype) so I can understand exactly what the author is trying to achieve.  After that, I am happy to offer an initial assessment of a chapter or two, just to be sure that we both feel we can work together.

For fiction, I would then read the whole MS and return a report that gives both an overview of its strengths and weaknesses and in-line comments pointing to specific issues.

The process for non-fiction can be more iterative, but my initial feedback is likely to include: 
·         an initial map of how might be presented
·         suggestions for changes to the structure
·         an assessment of any gaps
·         some ‘friendly challenges’ about the ideas presented

How would you describe a successful author/editor relationship?

It is vital that the editor remembers that this is not their book. Whatever suggestions they make must respect the author's own voice, style and intention. As for the author, they need to be able to take any criticism on the chin. But they also need to remember that the editor's view is just that - a view. If after they have listened to what the editor has to say and given themselves time to digest it, it still feels wrong, then they should stick to their guns.


Catriona is a careful and sensitive editor, with an eye for the big picture. She asks the right questions at the right time and works from initiative when appropriate. Her writing and editing skills are excellent and she would be an asset to any writing project. I look forward to working with her again: Orna Ross: Founder, Alliance of Independent Authors

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