will allison

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"Will is the smartest, kindest, funniest editor I've ever worked with. Everything he touches gets better."
--Erin McGraw, author of two novels and three collections, whose stories have appeared in The Atlantic, One Story, Story, and elsewhere


manuscript editing & critiques

Since 1996, I've worked as a professional editor for award-winning literary magazines and on a freelance basis with private clients. My specialties include fiction and creative nonfiction--novels, novellas, short stories, story collections, memoirs, and personal essays--though I will consider other projects. Please email for more information.

services

I offer two basic services: manuscript critiques and manuscript edits. Manuscript critiques are intended for manuscripts that are in the process of being revised, be they early, middle, or late drafts. I will annotate your manuscript with margin comments using the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word. These comments are typically quite specific, though I will include general comments as well. A critique does not include line-by-line editing. Manuscript edits are intended for final (or near final) drafts. Using the Track Changes feature in Word, I will edit your manuscript line by line with a goal of returning it to you ready for publication. I will also provide margin comments as needed.

editorial philosophy

When editing manuscript, I have two goals: (1) to help improve the manuscript as the author herself might do if she were able to see the manuscript anew, and (2) to help the author become a better editor of her own work, thereby eventually making myself obsolete. I enjoy working with authors who crave honest, rigorous feedback and are willing to set aside their egos for the sake of their manuscripts. I don't think of myself as a manuscript "fixer"; rather, I view authors and editors as partners with a shared goal of making manuscripts the best they can be.

testimonials

"Working with Will was a great pleasure. He is a careful and thoughtful editor whose goal is to make the story the best it can be. Will was the first to champion my work. Since then, I have published multiple pieces, entered an MFA program, written a collection of short stories, and begun a novel. I wouldn't be where I am now without Will."
--Laura Spence-Ash

"I have worked with Will Allison in class and one on one. He is that rare gem who teaches and edits as brilliantly as he writes. In other words, he is the BOMB. If you want to get better at your craft, find a way to work with him."
--Elizabeth Cuthrell, screenwriter/producer whose credits include Jesus' Son and Meek's Cutoff

"I've probably worked with a couple hundred American book and magazine editors over the last thirty years, and Will Allison holds his place in a group of five that shows grace, style, tact, and knowledge when working with manuscripts. Will possesses a rare ability to understand where a story or novel should go, and which route's best for the writer to take."
--George Singleton, author of seven short story collections, two novels, and an instructional book on writing fiction

"Will is a smart, talented, and gracious editor. His knowledgeable insights helped me see what I couldn't and shaped my stories for the (so much) better."
--Ellen Weeren, MFA student George Mason University

"Will Allison was my editor at One Story, and he also picked me out of the slush for Story many years prior. Will gave me some of the most thorough, intelligent, and respectful editing I've ever experienced. He made both stories stronger, line by line. As a brilliant writer himself, he's able to understand writers and come up with creative solutions to difficult narrative problems. Without a doubt, Will is one of the finest editors I've ever had the pure pleasure of working with. And it's not his fault I ended that last sentence on a preposition."
--Erika Krouse, author of Contenders and Come Up and See Me Sometime

"I worked with Will on my second collection of short stories, and his commentary was extremely insightful and comprehensive. I highly recommend him as an editor! Worth every penny!"
--Kelly Fordon, author of Garden for the Blind, a Michigan Notable Book, ForeWord Review Finalist, Midwest Book Award Finalist and IPPY award winner

"I feel so fortunate to have had Will Allison edit my stories. He pays very careful attention to line edits, removing every unnecessary word and phrase. He has a keen eye for staging and a great sense of narrative structure. His Track Changes were colorfully plentiful on my pages, and I was grateful for each thoughtful comment. I highly recommend Will as both editor and writer."
--Donna Baier Stein, author of Sympathetic People and The Silver Baron's Wife

"Working with Will over the past year has been a pleasure. He's an infinitely patient and insightful teacher, capable of pinpointing exactly what is and isn't working in my stories, and our conversations have always yielded strong and surprising results in subsequent drafts. My development as a writer has greatly benefited from Will's guidance, humor, and empathy."
--James Jung, MFA candidate at Stony Brook Southampton and winner of the Deborah Hecht Prize for Fiction

"I met Will at a pivotal time in my writing career. In addition to my MFA, I had numerous publications in literary journals, and I'd won both a prestigious fellowship and a respected fiction award. Despite this success, I couldn't get traction on pulling my work together into longer pieces, taking that 'next step' on my writing path. Will's excellent editorial guidance helped shape both my linked story collection and my novel. His edits were both specific and big picture, with suggestions on improving my work on a sentence level as well as insight on character, structure, and yes, plot! After working with Will, I felt like not only had his suggestions improved my work, but I had a few more tools in my writer's toolbox. Plus he's friendly and easy to work with. Hiring Will for an editorial reading is now a planned stage of my novel, and I anticipate that seeking Will's expert advice will continue to be part of my long-term strategy as a writer."
--Jennifer Kircher Carr, author of the forthcoming novel In the Off Season and curator at WordTango.com