This is the best time in history to be a writer. But only one thing can help your story stand out: quality. Whether you are a debut novelist, a screenwriter adapting to fiction, or an experienced author tackling a new project, I can help.
As the Novel Consultant for Truby Writers’ Studio and a private Developmental Editor, I mentor both emerging writers and agent referrals. I've helped shape books praised by People Magazine, USA Today bestsellers, Pushcart Prize winners, and Pen nominees. Over the past twenty years, I’ve taught at the Writers Program at UCLA Extension, run workshops, held seminars and presented talks at national conferences. After graduating from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and earning an MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch University, my focus on structure combines with my study of prose techniques to help me find solutions to your story challenges. As an award-winning author, essayist, and produced screenwriter actively engaged in my own projects, I also understand the struggle.
Here’s what I can help you do:
- Hook Your Reader from Page One
- Enhance the Narrative Drive
- Build Characters that Readers Will Root For
- Strengthen Your Plot
- Polish Your Prose
- Enjoy the Process
Are you stuck on a story problem? Choosing between ideas? Need direction on a work-in-progress? Often our passion clouds our view of what needs to be on the page. A one-on-one discussion can save you months of work. Together, we can shape the story that you want to tell.
Do you have a story idea, but aren’t sure where to start? I can help in four easy steps. First, we’ll discuss your goals, develop your premise, and examine materials you may already have. Next, I’ll give you assignments to develop the characters and strengthen the structure. Another round of feedback will help you increase the narrative drive, solve prose issues, and identify opportunities to strengthen your story. Ultimately, you'll feel confident to continue on your own.
Want to land an agent or indie publisher? Successful query letters are sales tools with a style of their own. Save time and skip the learning curve so you can focus on the important part: the manuscript.
Have you completed a full draft? Bravo! I will analyze it for opportunities to strengthen the structure, increase narrative drive, deepen the characters and POV, and hone your personal style. Then I’ll offer specific suggestions of how to do it in a way that reflects what matters most to you. My goal as a developmental editor is to help you make your story shine with advanced prose techniques and a page-turning plot. A detailed contract will outline my services, including light line editing, in-depth written report, and a follow-up phone call. Price is based on word count/estimated hours.
Leslie played a huge role in mining the jewel facets of my manuscript... helping me excavate and strengthen momentum and plotline. The result? My new novel landed in a dream home and will be published in the Fall.
—Katherine Vaz, Above the Salt, People Magazine "Book of the Week" Flatiron Books 2023
Leslie Lehr took my sprawling, fitfully promising manuscript and showed me the way to a new and propulsive structure with rising stakes and characters that really mattered, developing your ability to understand the connective tissue of conflict, revelation, and rising stakes. Her recommendations didn't just improve and take my story to the next level.
—Desson Thomson, 20-year Washington Post film critic
As a writing instructor, I recommend all of my clients to Leslie for her extraordinary editing skills and crackerjack query letters. I also found her editorial expertise invaluable with my own book.
Leslie respected my creative intent and dug deep to find the source of the issues. The suggestions that Leslie provided were specific and useful. Her guidance was invaluable!
I have learned more about the craft of writing from Leslie than from all my profs put together during my MFA. She asked me some really tough, probing questions that certainly made me feel uncomfortable and required me to stretch – THANK YOU!
"Leslie Lehr’s sense of story was invaluable. She helped me find my inner novelist.
I’ll always be grateful."
—Cindy Lin, The Twelve; Treasures of the Twelve, YA Series, Junior Library Guild Gold Medal
Without her incredible focus and attention, I sincerely doubt my memoir would have been published. I would return over and over again to Leslie.
—Leslie Schwartz, Jumping the Green, Angels Crest and the memoir, The Lost Chapters.
When I asked Leslie for help, she quickly assessed the issue and saw a major hole. When she suggested a fix, it was a Voila! moment. Now, I have a solid storyline and a way forward to finish my novel.
—Susan Wingate, Amazon bestselling author, How the Deer Moon Hungers
Leslie took my sprawling, fitfully promising manuscript to a new and propulsive structure with rising stakes and characters that really mattered.
—Desson Thomson, 20 year Washington Post film critic