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Dustin Schell

Professional Editing &
Manuscript Consultation


I'm a freelance developmental editor and manuscript consultant who is equally at home with fiction and creative nonfiction. I have worked with a wide variety of authors on novels, story collections, memoirs, long-form essays, and screenplays. I offer a range of editing services—from the comprehensive, big-picture stuff to sentence-level analysis.

My strengths are in locating the heart of a piece of writing, clearing away those parts that get in the way of it, organizing the narrative, and getting a manuscript to sing by asking the right questions of the writer. I am a compassionate and skilled reader of trauma narratives, and always work from a place of generosity—building on an author's unique voice to deliver their very best work.



An in depth, top-to-bottom dive into your manuscript, this structural edit begins with a 30 minute introductory meeting to assess your goals. Then, after a close read of the manuscript, I will respond with a comprehensive editorial letter summarizing the work and its strengths, including notes on structure, character, pacing, theme, style, and voice—followed by actionable suggestions for improvement. I will also provide examples for strengthening your work on a sentence level via MS Word Track Changes. The edit will conclude with a 90 minute meeting to discuss the letter in detail, and create a plan for appropriate changes toward the next stage of the manuscript. Rates for developmental editing range from $.03 to $.07 per word, depending on length of manuscript and depth of work. Minimum: $400.00


Manuscript consultations vary from editor to editor, and there is considerable overlap between a consultation and a developmental edit. In order to meet my clients' needs, I've created a way of working together which is less time intensive and therefore easier on your budget. After an initial 30 minute meeting to discuss your goals, I will closely read and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the manuscript. In 60 minute follow up meeting, I will recommend changes for the next draft, including structure, character, pacing, theme, voice, and style, as needed. Please note, a manuscript consultation does not include an editorial letter, edits on the manuscript itself, or Track Changes. Rates range from $.02 to $.05 per word, depending on length and depth of work. Minimum: $325.00


A screenplay assessment is similar to a manuscript consultation. It consists of a brief introductory meeting to discuss your goals and any trouble spots or areas that need attention. After a close reading of the screenplay you will receive a 3 to 5 page assessment and we will meet again for 90 minutes in which I will recommend changes regarding structure, plot, character, objective, setting, pacing, plausability, conflict and resolution, as needed. $7.00 per page. Minimum: $525.00


"Dustin found the heart of my book and helped it beat harder. It’s hard to express how much I value his feedback -- other than to say I won't publish another book without him." 

Claire Cameron, bestselling author of The Line Painter (Northern lit Award), The Bear, and The Last Neanderthal


I come to editing and manuscript consultation from an unorthodox angle. As an actor and filmmaker, I studied plays and scripts for nearly three decades—developing a keen eye for structure, language, and rhythm. I have also enjoyed the privilege of living among writers, writing teachers, and the literary community for almost as long. As a result, I am a regular reader for a number of published authors. I was educated at University of Wisconsin—Madison and Circle in the Square Theatre School. I have been a screenwriting resident at The Hermitage Artist Retreat, worked with writers in GrubStreet's novel and memoir incubators, and am the former host of the StillQueer reading series at Still North Books & Bar in Hanover, New Hampshire. I divide my time between rural Vermont and New York City.

A picture of Dustin Schell, editor. A white man with glasses and short brown hair, smiling at the camera


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