“Michelle Wildgen is my dream editor… She’s inspiring, Challenging, and Brilliant.”
—Kate Christensen, pen/faulkner award winning author of the last cruise
I understand writing from both sides of the desk. I spent nearly 20 years as an editor at Tin House, where work I edited was recognized in the O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, Best American Essays, Best Food Writing, Pushcart Prizes, and more. I’ve published three novels and regularly review books for the New York Times Book Review. I specialize in literary fiction and writing about food and drink, and have a particular affinity for stories about the complex bargains of family, relationships, and professional life. I’m more attuned to mining emotional complexities than formal experimentation and am a big believer in creating a vivid sensory world that serves the story. (This essay tells more about how I work.)
As executive editor at Tin House and an editor at Tin House Books, I edited novels, short fiction, creative nonfiction, and food writing. I worked with award-winning writers and debut writers alike, including Karen Russell, Andrea Barrett, Amy Bloom, Michael Ruhlman, Roxane Gay, Lauren Groff, Elissa Altman, Adam Johnson, and many more.
I offer a variety of editorial services. If you don’t see what you need, or for questions, rates, and availability, contact me here.
FOR AGENTS AND PUBLISHERS:
Evaluations of manuscripts by potential and current clients
Developmental and line editing before submitting to publishers
First-pass editing for books under contract
Literary consulting and coaching. Have an idea or a partial manuscript but hit a wall? Guidance, writing prompts, and conversation help you find the spark again. For a new project, I'll ask questions to firm up your intentions or guide you in experimenting productively, creating situations that yield story—even if you don’t yet know what it will be. If you’re halfway through your draft but not sure where to go, let’s talk about what I see in your pages so far. I love to help writers find the unexpected pathways in a situation or character, because human complexity is what makes a story new and intriguing. At all stages, I can design prompts and exercises for inspiration or to help you unlock a tricky writing problem or project. Contact me about coaching.
Evaluation of opening chapters. I know exactly how coolly and rigorously editors read your work, because I’ve been one for a long time. When you’re querying agents and submitting to acquiring editors, don’t give that reader any reason to set aside your manuscript. Understanding how editors work helped me as a writer, and I’ll make sure your first 25-50 pages are focused, polished, and lively. Contact me about your opening chapters.
Developmental edits for novels, story collections, memoir, and creative nonfiction. If you have a full manuscript and require a deep, detailed discussion of how your book functions (including its structure, characters, plot, pacing, and more) I’ll provide you with an annotated manuscript that makes it easier to implement changes, plus a detailed editorial letter of 3-6 pages and a phone or Skype consult. (My margin comments are not a line edit, but a window into my reading experience, showing you exactly where I had questions and craft concerns.) Contact me about developmental edits.
Line edits on novels, story collections, memoir, and creative nonfiction. When your manuscript’s major elements are all in place and you want to be sure the prose is stunning, I’ll go over your work sentence by sentence. You’ll find out what you’re doing beautifully and what can improve to make your writing what it ought to be, from concision, originality, and clarity to textured, lively world-building and imagery. Contact me about line edits.
Edits on short stories and essays. As a literary journal editor, I focused on developing and polishing short stories and essays, and I love the puzzle of making a story do everything it can within tight constraints. Whether you have one short piece or several, and whether you need help at a deep structural level or a final polish and line edit, you’ll benefit from the expertise I honed for nearly twenty years at a top literary journal. Contact me about your stories and essays.