Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Writers' Services: John Hudspith

John Hudspith Editing Services 



What kind of editing do you do?

Some might describe what I do as `heavy` editing. But see, that depends on the level of understanding of the craft the individual writer is at; some needing more help than others. `Help` being the key word here, because when you employ an editor, you must realise he is not a machine or robot programmed to exactness and thereby guaranteeing perfection with your work. No, your editor is a hired help, a fellow of the craft, a writer himself, and what you are in fact doing by employing this chap or chappess is handing a fellow artist a chisel and inviting him to give you a hand. And that is exactly what I do; examine structure, pace, characterisation, dialogue, mood, tone, props, production values and camera angles and give a hand with getting these things into shape – ensuring all the while that the writer’s voice/style receives the most important enhancement of all and that `story` works.

How do you approach working with a client on a manuscript?

I ask for three chapters, synopsis, what the inspiration is for the work and a little information about the writer. I read the chapters, study the synopsis, then provide an appraisal along with the first chapter edited and a quotation for completing the work. There is no charge for the appraisal and sample edits. Before any writer engages with me I want them to see what I can bring to their work. Before parting with your hard-earned, always ask for a free sample and ensure the editor engages with your work, your voice, and can bring something delicious to your table. If your editor doesn’t make you drool, find one that does.

How would you describe a successful author/editor relationship?

A successful editor will be aware of the conventions and reader perceptions of every genre in which he works. A successful editor, with in-depth knowledge of the craft, will teach his writer these things of reader perceptions and camera angles and voice and the nuance of words. To edit the work of another and watch them learn as the process moves along is to watch a writer evolve and I’m privileged to have experienced this many times upon reading the work of returning writers and finding they have taken on board all I said about narrative POV values and mood creators, and their word choice is now so picky I could cry. And so it goes on. A successful author/editor relationship is one of passionate teacher and hungry pupil.

You can read more about John Hudspith here.


Siobhan Daiko submitted the opening chapters of `The Orchid Tree` - a historical romance set in post-war colonial Hong Kong. She had a suspicion that her novel wasn’t quite working, but didn’t know why. I found the narrative voice had a unique sparseness to it, a knack for succinct imagery and storytelling, and indeed the read brought a fragrant feel, almost as if one was sitting with the book beneath an orchid tree. There wasn’t much editing to do. Fluff was a rarity, as were typos and grammatical issues, and character actions and reactions and resulting mood and tone were all in top condition. An easy job for me, but we did eventually uncover the cause of Siobhan’s suspicions...

Siobhan says:

`I was feeling despondent about The Orchid Tree. Something wasn’t right with it, but I was too close
to the writing to figure out what that “something” was. I’d seen Johnny’s name online and had heard nothing but good words about him. I sent off for a sample edit and quote, which came back within days. Impressed by his professionalism, and willingness to spread payments by working on the novel in blocks, I sent off my first section. And so began my journey with Johnny.

He applied everything he talks about in his posts “on editing” to my work, focusing on reader enjoyment and flagging up what he calls “distorters”, but also giving praise and encouragement. Comments like “wonderful imagery, beautifully done,” “an absorbing voice”, “mood and character captured perfectly” made me feel as if I hadn’t written such rubbish after all. At first, there were only minor edits and instances where he suggested I should cut what he calls “fluff”. It was rare for Johnny to have to chip in. Then, after I’d sent him the third section, he flagged up where I’d been going wrong. My protagonist had started acting out of character and reader empathy had fallen away. A halleluiah moment for me.

Major rewrites ensued, at no extra cost, and emails flew back and forth as we worked together. Again, Johnny was hugely encouraging, with comments like, “this is perfect” or “this is a tingle moment”. I trust Johnny’s judgement and I’m sure The Orchid Tree is a much better novel now. So grateful to Johnny; he’s brilliant. My confidence has soared and I’m ready to send my baby out there for others to read… and to write the sequel. Watch this space!`
Siobhan Daiko. Italy.


  1. I can honestly say that I recommend John Hudspith as an editor without reservations. I'm definitely one of his 'hungry pupils' and I'm looking forward to 'feeding from his table' again when I've written my next book.

  2. Thank you, Siobhan - I love feeding my hungry writers and filling them up with new ways, new words and new ideas . . . and to see them skipping away with sparks at their heels.