A Discussion About Developmental Editing

Experienced developmental editors share the ins and outs of their work

Meeting Notes

(Written notes from the 11/12/18 meeting by Asha Myers)

Discussion Panelists:

Scott Driscoll: Identifies primarily as a writer/teacher. He is a UW professional in the Continuing Education program where he has taught Creative Writing, Story Structure, and Character for twenty-five years. He supplements with developmental editing most often working on early drafts for former clients and students and people seeking publication. His own literary fiction debut was, Better You Go Home, published in 2014.

Priscilla Long: Author, poet, editor, and teacher. She has been editing for thirty years. For fifteen of those years she was the senior editor of HistoryLink.org, a free online encyclopedia for Washington State history. Author of six books, including The Writer’s Portable Mentor, which came out in 2010, and now launching the second edition. Find her at PriscillaLong.net.

Jason Black:  Has helped scores of writers find the best in their work for the past nine years. He teaches writing, story structure, character development classes through the PNWA and is a regular speaker. In addition to his blog, his articles have been featured in PNWA’s author magazine and in the literary journal Line Zero. He has written and published three MG fiction books, and as a freelancer engages directly with authors of all genres. Find him at PlotToPunctuation.com.

Panel Discussion moderated by Jennifer Hager.

Highlighting the best practices and principles for developmental editing:

Moderator: At what point in an author’s process do you become involved? Do you participate from the creation of the book concept or do you work with completed drafts? And tell us about your vetting process?

Scott: Anyone who has put some effort into it I take on. I prefer to work at a more developmental level then with a finished, polished manuscript. I really like to get in with the ideas, the craft of the structure, the development of characters and with the language, the senses, and voice. Most importantly, the characters and the voice. I like to be at that stage.

Priscilla: I’ve had two types of clients in the past. One is a person who is not a writer who has a story they desperately want to tell and they don’t know how to go about it. I’ve helped that type of client several times. I help them write from scratch. Build it up develop it, and then coach them. That’s real development. The other type is a full draft, could be quite a mess, but it is a draft. I love to work with plot and challenges. I love to work with characters, language and voice, a lot. The kind of client I love to work with are a quick study. I often work with published authors. When you give them an instruction they lap it up. They know exactly what you’re asking. Some of my favorite clients are those.

Jason: Often when I get a client out of the blue, that client has no idea what they are needing. So a lot of the job is vetting. All they have heard about is copyediting or proofreading, and I say “Hey actually that’s not all there is to it! There is also this thing called developmental editing.” If they only want copyediting, then I refer them to the editors guild because they will find someone to do a better job than me! I’ve learned over the years that I don’t like copyediting. I will counsel them heavily to start with dev editing. At what point do we become involved in the process? I say, come to a dev editor when you have no clue what to do at this point. You don’t need me pointing out things you already know you need to fix. It’s when you don’t know but you know it isn’t ready for prime time, and they help you get structural elements you were not capable of seeking.

Moderator: What are the steps in your developmental edit? What are the deliverables you return to the client at the end?

Scott: So everyone here is an editor? Editing is what you come to do? Well, the first step is a I try to find out how deep into a project somebody is. And when they tell me, honestly, I had 12 beta readers tell me blah blah blah. I say forget what they said, we’re going to start with what works and what doesn’t. Before they send me 300 pages, I insist on a sketch or an outline or a draft of some idea of what they are working on so I have it to compare with the manuscript. Often there is a big difference there. Then I see a chapter or two just to see how far along they are in the writing process. There are often surprises. Some are far along, but not all.

Priscilla: It depends on who I am talking to. There are several novelists who might know what they are doing, but their manuscript is a mess. I edit the whole thing privately without talking to them then I write a three-page critique; then I have a conference. This is very important and I talk for 2-3 hours about it. Another is meeting with the client where I don’t take it home, and we meet every week or every other. I actually have the client read it out loud to me and we talk about it right there and give instructions for that section and she or he comes back with the new and corrected version. Vetting, sometimes I don’t really want to work with the client because I sort of feel…they send me an email and I feel exhausted. I used to work with every client who came along, and mostly very successfully, but sometimes a client will take just so much energy from you. I can usually have a feeling for that and at that point I pass them on to someone else. I won’t tell them though, this client makes me exhausted!

Jason: Unlike Priscilla, I will work with anybody, but mostly because I think anyone who has the initiative to find an editor and has left enough ego behind (not an easy thing to admit) then that person probably needs my help and I can help them. Yes, it means reading a lot of bad writing, but that is what freelance developmental editing is all about. If it wasn’t bad, they wouldn’t need me. But as to the steps of the dev edit as the question was directed, I am different from Scott. I like to work in isolation. I am an extreme introvert. I like to work in isolation and I don’t want to know what the book is about, because in my view the book has to stand on its own. I put myself as a proxy reader in the bookstore. I want to see how it strikes me, how it grabs my attention. The more I know about the story going in the less I can go in fresh. If people want to tell me all about it in the email, I skim. If they want to send a synopsis, I say no. I start at page one and go page by page making notes. 400-500 comments by the end. Then I write a report the next day about it that details everything I found about their writing, story structure, character issues. 25-35 pages. I make a template…make one; it will save you hours of time. I fill out the template and they get that along with their marked-up manuscript. Deconstructing their plot or characters, that takes a while and so usually it is two days to write the report. The client gets all of that back with an open offer for after care. I don’t do a conference, but people can always email or call me and bounce ideas off of me.

Moderator: What does an easy dev edit project look like? What does a difficult dev project look like?

Scott: For example, I have one person I am working with who has already written books and her father wrote books, and she’s taking books he was writing before he died and writing. She’s easy. I say, consider this, take this out, try this and she knows exactly what I mean and doesn’t ask a single question. That’s rare. She is already far along and just needed some help on this book. Occasionally, I have online students who are taking beginning letter writing classes and they say, “Oh I have this book I would love to have you edit for me.” And there is just so much they have to learn. I would never take that on. Somebody else can, but not me. I counsel them to go back to the idea stage otherwise they are going to spend three to four years working on a book that won’t work. Usually there are structural flaws, so if you are editing what has already been produced, like try to save them the cost of a big edit, and try to get them to go back and rethink the story on their own and then produce chapters and then seek a dev edit.

Priscilla: The great edits are the same as Scott. There are experienced authors with a book that needs an edit, and the book might be a mess but they get what you are talking about immediately. I had an experience editing a memoir a couple years ago about a love affair, the writer was really good, and everything I said she got, and she took this messy thing and turned it into a miraculous thing. This is very pleasurable because you are helping create this beautiful book. Then I have experience with non-writers who have this book they want to write but have no idea what they are doing, but if they are committed and dedicated to learning and to doing whatever it takes then it is good. The thing that sometimes happens—and I am wary of—is when someone has a book to write but doesn’t have it yet, and they want a coach . . . I used to do this but I don’t do it anymore. You start to care very deeply for them and the book, but they are no longer carrying the energy of the book, they put it on you.

Jason: Easy is well structured, interesting and engaging characters in a relatable struggle. Maybe three times I’ve had manuscripts like this. The rest of the time they are pretty tough because the person has no idea how to do some or all of the writing, creating plot, or making characters seem human, even just punctuation and developing a good sentence and then you are in for a slog of a project because every sentence is poking you in the eyes. But fun or not, the job is the same. Praise what works and give constructive feedback about what doesn’t work, and help them see what is needed to make it better. Good or bad I can console myself with that. I can help the author make their story better and stronger. It’s all about finding ways to expand it and make it more. I say, “I wanted to know more about this, expand this scene.” Maybe it’s just educating someone about the fundamentals.

Scott: So, this is a dev editing client that I really like: fairly experienced but no publishing success. Abandoned one book because it wasn’t working and started another with another convention. Sent a chapter to PNWA and it won first place. Brought it to me, and I said, “Great writing. But you’ll never turn it into a book from this because you aren’t following conventions.” So the thing she turned into the contest disappeared; she understood the conventions required and brought me three chapters totally rewritten that were great.

Moderator: I haven’ seen it addressed well in a book about dev editing, but I think it is critical. What do you measure an author’s manuscript against? What is your yardstick?

Scott: I have learned to use as a yardstick someone who is working in that genre and has been successful. They are doing something right; they were successful. I have five books on my kitchen table and yep, all the things I was looking for were right there in the first five pages. So I tell the author, you might not want to do it, but this will work. But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making the suggestion up. That it was true. So yeah, all different genres of books on my table, and that convention was used.

Priscilla: For someone who wants to be a writer, an author is different than someone who wants to just write one book, I look at virtuoso books that are published. I look at models all over the place and encourage the writer to look at models. If you are writing memoir or a certain type of model, I don’t care about genre. Then, the teachers are the great works so how do they do it. So line up a five books on your kitchen table. I tell my authors to read a lot, but these are writers who want to be great authors. Then for others, they have a story that is so meaningful they would tell this story before they die. I just want to help them create this work that is clear and well written; they don’t have to do all the things that I make everyone else do, but I help them along and it is so meaningful to them to have this work about something that is terribly important to them. I have had several older clients who in fact died, but it meant so much to have it to offer their communities, but it has to be nicely written and clear.

Jason: This questions gets to the heart of the way I edit. Ultimately a manuscript works or doesn’t work entirely on how the reader reacts to the story. Nonfiction is a different story, but with fiction it’s all about that. We fill our stories with character and plot and twists and turns, but that’s not really what storytelling is about. As writers what we are trying to do is create a good experience and your book succeeds or fails on if your story did that. We use our tools to make that happen and if we do our job our readers have a good time. It is very subjective and yet . . . when you look at these five different books, what emerges are the elements of craft. Good narrative and story structure is motivated by empirical data—these patterns create good reading experiences. When I edit, I pay attention to the part of my brain that says whether I am having a good time. I can still be thinking about the story and how it is going, “Oh, that was a believable twists. That was a surprise and it worked!” or “What the heck, no it didn’t!” The yardstick is the subjective measure of reading experience. You learn how to recognize that in different genres and how to set aside your own personal preferences and see it in others. I am not interested in romance, but I have writers who send me good romance and I can say “Yes, I am into this” because they have craft and do all the right things, and interesting things. It all boils down to reader experience.

Jennifer: One of the things I seem to do well with my clients is be an evocator. My client has written something and they give me a sixth, seventh, or eighth draft they have been working hard, but I am always trying to draw out what more is in the world of this story. All of the panelists here, when they give feedback to a client, you hope to reflect back what is so and what is not so. What is extraneous and what is missing, but I feel as if often writers unschool the story in a certain way, and they had to do it that way in order to get it down at least in the beginning, and it might take a while to get it into something that is in good shape. I feel that many writers don’t have any idea really, in what order does a reader need to read this? What is the optimal order for the reader to take in this? So I think my first allegiance is always to make sure with the other that exactly that this nugget that was burning in them to write this book, that that is clear.

Can you share your philosophy of editing?

Scott: Generally, I think it is helpful to be constructive and to not tear something apart. I bend over backwards to try to explain my reasoning. If something isn’t working, I explain how I am reacting to it and what they might consider to help it. It is laborious but it isn’t helpful to just be critical, so I spend a lot of time explaining my reasons.

Priscilla: My first, in teaching and editing, is do no harm. I disapprove of people who say, “You should not be a writer.” I totally disagree. Same as Scott, I try to support the creativity of the person and try to support their strengths and try to first see the strengths and see what their dream is of making the work. The dream of the work, someone is coming to you with this dream, so support them to both see what is positive and pushing their craft and pushing them to know what do with the craft. Most writers want to learn craft, but they really don’t know how. How they could work their syntax and diction. On many levels they can push their craft.

Jason: Actionable feedback. Feedback that doesn’t give a person a path forward to remedy issues is useless. Anyone can tell you what’s wrong, but that’s not helpful. If you say I saw a pattern of weak verbs in your writing, and here is how they negatively affect the reading experience and here is how you can find stronger words. Articulate the problem, explain how it affects the reading experience, and give specifics on how to fix the issue. Help them strengthen their craft. I keep this as my credo—I will not criticize if I cannot give my three-point system. If I can’t, then I have to stop and think really hard and understand something new. What was the pattern? Why did that feel bad? Which leads me to discovering new things about crafts? I have learned more about craft from trying to help authors learn what is busted in their writing. Stephen Kings’ book On Writing is great, but it holds no water to digging into a real manuscript and serving clients.

Moderator: Share about a recent dead end project that intrigued you and why?

Scott: This is a guy I don’t know all that well, he took one writing class since I met him. He says, I wrote this manuscript and I want some help with it. I wanted him to go through the whole process so I could see what he really wanted to accomplish. His first two chapters were pretty interesting actually. This guy knows more about the craft than even he knows, but this story doesn’t sound like anything like what he tells me he is writing. Here is what you put on the page, but you tell me that this other thing is what you want. He shows me chapters four and five and lo and behold: no story structure but great character development. So all this guy has to do is take that wonderful stuff and give it some form. But he won’t do it.

Priscilla: I did a novel recently about the children of a holocaust survivor. There were flashbacks from the mother’s story who was the survivor. The flashbacks were just brilliant. They were perfectly written. They were astonishing about these terrible things that happened. Then there was a villain, and it was quite truly a horrible villain and in the end he escapes to Europe. No I say! No, he has to be dead! Again it turns out this novel, turns out the pieces were really her mother. It was fun to work with her because she was a really good writer. Part of a novel, I like to think of a spine of a novel and mirror sub plots, so is it a rags to riches story, good to evil, and then what are the . . . how does clothing index a character? How do objects in the room index a character? It is very interesting to work with all those features.

Jason: A couple months ago a client sent me a third novel, a repeat client. A coming of age story about a messed up kid who screwed up his life, alcohol abuse and all these bad choices. The plot was episodic and glacial, it was a hot mess and he knew it. What intrigued me was that it was clear the writer was going for a dark hero type story, dark heroes are kind of hot right now, but it was just not working because I hated his character! I’m reading on and on and it’s just like, I don’t like this guy. I cannot stand this character. I don’t want him to succeed because he is such an asshole. There is nothing redeeming. But that was intriguing! Yeah, you find characters that are hard to like or abrasive, but there is still something that we relate to and we want to root for, but I could not root for this character. How to explain this to the client, and why? Why couldn’t I relate to the character? There were plenty of things that could have made me relate to and root for him but it didn’t happen. What would it take for me to relate to this guy even though he is dark and making bad choices? Well, it sure would have helped if he’d been aware he was an asshole. It would have helped if he had a goal he was striving for. So it was interesting because it forced me to think more deeply about an issue, and now I know more about good character development. What would help me relate to that. The client said, “Yeah, I knew I was writing him that way but I didn’t realize I had taken it too far.” He had double downed on making the guy a jerk without balancing it out. He was very receptive and appreciative.

Moderator: Where do you fit in the ethereal territory that produces the book? In an ideal project what role do you play?

Scott: Well, again I love the sort of closer to the edges stage early on, then I like to skip all the work in between and jump into the language and voice at the end. Ultimately, anyone you send your book to, if it’s 95% fixed, but that last 5% just isn’t right, then that person will throw your book out all because of voice. People talk about point of view, but that is nothing—the tip of the iceberg. Voice has everything to do with distance and the nearness and farness. It is impossible to tell the story only using the words of the character. 60% needs to be a neutral voice that moves the story forward and that voice has nothing to do with the character, then there is a trick I learned to pull back more and have an overview voice that is able to comment in a more intelligent way, and then transition back into the urgent voice of the character in the moment and transition that way. I work hard to notice the three levels of voice and create a flow that way.

Priscilla: I pretty much like to work on early messy manuscripts, but I very much love helping the writer get language to be great later on. I work on all kinds of things like sentence structure, openings. Is it a smashing opening? Because if it isn’t, then it won’t fly. I have to be fascinated with this story at the beginning, not the end. I have to be dragged into the story. Some of that is about language. Often, you have a memoir where there are two voices, the memory of childhood and then the reflecting back voice and often you have the situation where the author for some reason hasn’t realized that the reflecting back voice is really important, and what do you think now and what are your perceptions now? I like to work all the way up to sending it to an agent. I don’t necessarily separate language as a later stage, I will start teaching it right away because it takes time to learn it.

Jason: In an ideal project, I am the invisible mentor who makes the novel be the best it can be and I am only visible if mentioned in the author notes. My job is behind the scenes that is the part of the territory where dev editors live because it is not my story; it is the author’s story and they have final say over what the words are. It isn’t mine to take credit for or be visible for.

Moderator: What are you dying to tell us but I forgot to ask you about?

Scott: So copyediting is probably something there is more work in doing. I personally am not very good at that. I, for example, copyedit something then send it on to an editor at a press and he catches all sorts of things I never would catch. Someone really good at details should exploit that skill.

Priscilla: There is a tremendous….well, some of you are writers as well as editors, and I think there is a tremendous benefit to continuing to work on our own craft and skills on and on and on. That is a great treasure, and for writers to and I think many of us are, there is nothing more helpful to a writer than having the craft skills of editing. I love copyediting because I love the sentence. I don’t love the mundane details of spellings, but I love working on syntax and the sentence. Something that is a great pleasure and privilege of editing is to go deeper into the craft of syntax of sentences or novels, of POV of memoir. It is a great pleasure.

Jason: If you are wondering, should I try this? Is this me? I would ask you to ask yourself, are you an analytical person? Do you like to take things apart and figure out how they work? Because that is what this job is. You have to read a novel figure out why it works, how it works, what gears are missing teeth. It is a very analytical process. I’ve always loved taking things a part and usually I could put them back together. Now I get to take apart novels and they are extremely complicated, there are so many pieces. But if you have a mind like that, or if you notice that on page 254 a name is spelled differently than on page 5 and if your brain does that without you having to push it to do so, yeah, you’ll do well. I love knowing how things work. Every novel I take apart and put back together teaches me something new about the character development, story structure. You do it for ten years and it has all kinds of benefits. Yeah, I get paid but my clients give me such an incredible gift by forcing me to learn and go deeper too.


Where do you see the line between dev editing and copyediting?

Scott: Well, the breakdown of details that we were just talking about I freely admit, I don’t notice them, so I am not a good copyeditor. But I like to play with ideas. You send a book to a publishing house and someone will copyedit it to make sure there is consistency and things are capitalized where they are supposed to be.

Priscilla: If I have a whole draft, I am frankly doing a lot of both at the same time. I tell people, well it depends on the text, but I tell people to get it pretty damn good before it goes to the publishing house. It is damn hard to get accepted even if it is good. If I am working in a dev sense, it is about rogue scenes and what is happening, but I still notice . . the person isn’t good at sentencing so I work on that to. My hand will move. If I am working on hard copy, I move. I don’t say it is a copyedit, but I will do both at the same time to clean it up. Then I say send it to someone else, a copyeditor, before you send to your agent.

Jason: As a dev editor, it is not my job, praise the lord, to fix the problems that I find. It is the clients job, if I fix it then it is my own story. I have my own stories to write. That is the bright line in the sand. Yes, you are editing their words. While I am reading someone’s work, I will make sample edits because I am trying to illustrate for them how to do strong words or use other conjunctions other than “and”. I will do it in the first ten or twenty pages to give them a flavor and teach them the craft, but then it is on them to fix it in the rest of the book. Book doctor is appropriate. It is the doctors job to prescribe, and the patients job to diet and exercise.

Scott: If I tell someone, there is too much distance here, bump up the narrative, make the reader feel like they are in the scene. Some people know what you mean and some people don’t. I will take a couple paragraphs and rewrite and line it side by side, so people can see. That is what I mean. Lead by example.

Priscilla: I don’t mean I rewrite for my clients. I am not a ghostwriter and have no wish to be, but it is my job to teach them how this could be done.

Jennifer: It seems to me that the dev editor is really concerned with how something holds together as a whole and those are the things we are really watching for. Some people will take their one chapter a week or a month to their critique group, and they get feedback back, but they have no idea, does the whole thing stream together or if you put it together is it just pieces.

Do you all read through the manuscript once without making notes and then go back to the beginning and get to work or go right to the editing?

Scott: Really good question coming from a professional editor. Personally, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t read through a manuscript without not taking notes because I see too many errors and it drives me crazy. That is why I ask for a sketch. If it isn’t working here it won’t be working in 200 pages.

Priscilla: Yeah now, I start right in and I start making notes because I want to go back there. Things happen so that you know, fifty pages in there is a repetition, so if you mark as you go you have less work to do later.

Jason: Partly it’s a question of time and efficiency. I don’t have time to read it twice. In that first pass, I take a lot of notes. I make a lot of commentary in Word, and then I make chapter notes, just to help me solidify what is happening in the story and give myself notes to help me remember details later when things were happening. I don’t think it works as a practical matter to read first without taking notes. This is purposeful reading, not enjoyment and reading in bed. Working on a client’s book, I am so focused. A hyper flow state, a weird mental state where I have a communion between the words and build a structure in my brain, which is why on page 250 I know that something is different than page seven, so I don’t have to read it twice. Most manuscripts take me 20-30 hours to read through and make all those comments. I’m lucky if in the first day I get through five pages because I am making so many notes and it is really slow, but the next ten pages is day two and I am finding fewer new things. By page twenty-five I have mostly found all their issues, and I just kick into story gear at that point.

Moderator: I read everything twice. Once with a synopsis, and then to ask questions of the author, whatever occurred to me that might provide more info. What intention did you have? What is happening with the character? My questions to the author and the synopsis is the yardstick I use to measure against the second read through. But the important thing to me is often a writer will hatch a major part of their plot 2/3 through the book and they didn’t realize they had to build to it, and if I didn’t know that this character would be so important in the last bit, then I’d think Oh cut this character out. So sometimes I don’t know that I can help unless I know the authors intention right off the bat.

Do you dev edit nonfiction and how is the process different?

Scott: I have done it with magazine articles. I don’t’ do it anymore and I really insist that they study exactly what the magazine style calls for otherwise they are wasting their time, then read samples, and then send me the basic outline of what you saw, and then I write back and say, OK here is what you missed because here is what is actually there.

Priscilla: It’s everything there and clear that you wish to say, and so it’s still about how are you going to structure this. A book is series of chapters, so what are going to be in your chapters? Then going forward the same way, but it is different? How? Well, you’re talking about plain English and everything being clearly and fully present.

Jason: I have done three to four over the years, and they aren’t the primary, but they are different. Structurally, the needs are different because the purpose is different. In fiction a good reading experiences is all about emotions, but in nonfiction it’s about did you learn something? Generally the metrics. So with those metrics, I went through the UW communications then practiced technical communication at Microsoft for twenty-five years, so I am comfortable with nonfiction, are things clear and logical with first things first, which you think would be obvious but it isn’t always obvious, and are you missing things that aren’t obvious because you are an expert in the field? That is where a dev editor who is not an expert in the field is incredibly useful. This guy was writing a book about how not to get scammed in dealing with your parent’s estate after they die. I am not a lawyer so I can read the book and say, Hey I have no idea what you are talking about you need to explain these terms or write a whole chapter just on this one idea.

Priscilla: I once had the pleasure of editing an airplane book and I had to ask what everything meant because the writer is so involved and they know to much. I am the perfect editor because I know nothing!

Scott: I have helped a few people with book length memoir and what I remember most specifically was to focus the writing into iconic moments to cut out all the crap in between and put all the energy into the iconic moments.

How often do you work with an author over multiple drafts? And for how long?

Scott: Somebody I met when I first started teaching classes twenty-five years ago, a woman was starting  a novel. I just met with her this summer with the final draft of that novel! I think that’s probably a record! But over the years it got better and better . . . it certainly changed, but it got better and that’s encouraging to see.

Priscilla: I will work through two or three drafts and there is a point where I say, I like this too much I am too attached, so I want you to do to one more person before you go to a publisher. I like to see another draft after the first work because it’s fascinating and satisfying. Sometimes I go to a third draft, but probably not because I get too attached and know it too well and then it is worth going to one more editor with fresh eyes before going into the world of getting accepted or rejected.

Jason: It is always interesting to see the revised draft. I want you to look at it again, I did what you said. But that is for me a separate project, to look at it again and do that type of analysis is not free. It is interesting to see what they pick up on and what they don’t and you can see what improved and what hasn’t clicked yet—keep working on those conjunctions! But it is the minority of projects.

Scott, you mention your five books on the table and what you look for and you mention the conventions and I want to know what you mean by that and what you were looking for?

Scott: I can tell you specifically. Form. Story requires a form if it is plot then it needs narrative and an inciting incident, and it might not show up in the first or fifth page, so you need a staging event and it has to be reacted to and the main character has to show up and react to it. No getting around it, and that has to lead to the beginning of a quest and that quest has to be set up, in the first two pages you need a suggestion of a value that will stay the same throughout the book and keep coming up and reacted to. No matter a western, romance, mystery, literary, every single one in the first two pages.

Priscilla: There is a book by John Franklin, Writing for Story, and he talks about nonfiction, but it works for novels in some ways. What is the complication? And also, if you don’t have a significant complication and it is trivial then the story will be trivial. It is an interesting concept to look at.

Jason: Phillip Roth is the exception to that rule. Zero form, but there’s always an exception.


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