Sandra Scofield

Sandra Scofield – Editor

I've spent thirty years working with writers and books: writing, teaching, and editing. I love helping a novelist bring a story to life.


I am: The author of 7 novels, including a National Book Award Finalist; teacher in a Master of Fine Arts program since 2006; popular teacher of courses on novel writing in Iowa Summer Writing Festival since 1995. Very experienced with first-time novelists, as well as accomplished, published writers. I also was an active reviewer for the NYT, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and other newspapers in the 1990's and into the 2000's, so I learned to identify clearly for readers just what they could expect from a book; I do the same thing for the writer now. I have also written two popular writing craft books, The Scene Book: A Primer for the Fiction Writer; and The Last Draft: A Novelist's Guide to Revision. (Both are Penguin paperbacks.) I have been editing free-lance since 2003.
Recently, I took excellent refresher courses through the Editorial Freelancers Association.
My experience has made me efficient and deeply analytical--but also empathetic and supportive. I'm very good with beginners; I have clients working on 4th, 5th books, too.

I work with literary novels; women's fiction; crime and mysteries with women protagonists. No other genres.
I offer:

MANUSCRIPT EVALUATION (ME), a "state of the union" assessment of your draft that readies you for rewriting, developmental editing, or preparation for Beta reading and submission; and LINE EDITING (LE) (focused on voice and style; comes before or as part of copy-editing); occasional DEVELOPMENTAL COACHING (DC) when it follow Manuscript Evaluation. I am astute, engaged, friendly, and prompt.

When I do a MANUSCRIPT EVALUATION for you, you can expect a detailed EDITORIAL LETTER--a description of your ms, with an analysis of the effectiveness and cohesiveness of the overall theme/storyline; plot structure; character development; setting. I'll talk about your "throughline;" your characters' journey; the impact of your pace, setting, etc. My clear feedback will give you what you need to plan a revision--or to take to your writers' group or an editor, if you like, for discussion, in preparation for tweaking or revising, and submitting to readers. If you ask me to annotate, I will comment on selected passages and scenes to illustrate my assessment insights. I am also available for a followup phone or zoom call. The Editorial Letter is valuable if you go on to Developmental Editing.

If I do LINE EDITING I do a free sample first so that we are on the same page as far as the depth and degree of critique and suggestions you want. My goal will be to help you be assured that your voice and tone are consistent and effective. I'll watch for errors and what I call "infelicities:" phrasing, perhaps, that doesn't ring quite right. This readies your manuscript for Copy Editing, where someone will worry about periods and commas and spacing. If you feel you are ready for that, we can discuss combining the work in Line Editing.
Line Editing takes into consideration who your audience is going to be: you will want a different "sound" to your writing if you are writing a cozy mystery than if your manuscript is a literary novel.

I have had clients go on to fame and fortune, to excellent publishers, and to self-publishing. I'm proud of all of them. What makes me happiest is that they all report that they feel like better writers after working on a manuscript with me.
I do this work because I love the fellowship (and the stories), the pride of accomplishment I help engender, and the opportunity to solve writers' problems and send them off stronger. I have had a long career as an author and a teacher; it comes together in my editing.

Coming of Age Literary Fiction Mystery & Crime
English (US)
  • American Book Award
  • Texas Institute of Letters Novel Award
  • Finalist, National Book Award
  • National Endowment for the Arts Fellow
  • Finalist, Oregon Book Award
  • PhD
  • Member of Editorial Freelancers Association

Work experience

Lasell University, Boston

Jan, 2006 — Present

In MFA residencies, I teach classes and conduct workshops. Over the semester, online, I mentor individual students, who are usually writing novels.


Jan, 2003 — Present

Iowa Summer Writing Festival, University of Iowa

Jul, 1994 — Present

I have conducted workshops with 100's of participants at Iowa.

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