"Don was the editor for my 300 page novel. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. He met with me for over an hour before and after his editing. During the first meeting, I had time to tell him my concerns about the novel and what I needed him to pay particular attention to.
I implemented 95% of his editorial suggestions. In some cases a change he suggested stimulated me to rewrite the sentence structure, choose different words, or eliminate the sentence altogether. If I didn’t completely delete a paragraph he circled for the trash bin, I reworked the paragraph and eliminated two or three sentences. For example, Don identified one page of description, noting it was a distraction. His advice inspired me to select the crucial detail on that page and to move it to a more appropriate section of the novel. The remaining text was deleted.
I’m especially grateful for those places where he had a question about the plot or characters. I went back through the novel to ensure the previous text was clearer so that a future reader would not stop and wonder what I’m getting at.
His comments and suggestions were extremely helpful. I was amazed to see how many words I used more than once on a page. And I chopped off all the adjectives and adverbs that he crossed out. He also pointed out sentences where I thought I was being quite clever but was really not, saving me some embarrassment in the future. Usually I found that I had had a subconscious question about the sentence already.
His encouraging notations and underlining assured me that I got my points across. I finished making his changes feeling 100% more confident in my work.
I don’t miss any of the deletions. Reading the text without the proposed cuts showed how little they would be missed. The book overall lost the equivalent of 16 pages, making the novel tighter and increasing the tension in the writing.
I’m already submitting pieces of a new novel to my writer’s group so Don will have a repeat customer sometime in the future.”
Author of The View from Mount Royal
September 25, 2014
"There’s a difference between a copyeditor and a writing coach that Don Gervich personifies. A copyeditor concerns themselves with: semi-colons, commas, and syntax; often making a clumsy sentence flow or condenses a paragraph that rambles. Better copyeditors shape the manuscript, omitting parts that are excessive and asking for material when needed. Often a copyeditor can make a rather mundane work shine; and for this we writers are grateful. Don can help on these matters and his comments are worthy of evaluation and, more often than not, implementation.
But a coach is something different. Most young (or old) writers have insecurities which need to be sensitively addressed. They might have worked hard on a short story or a novel but have reached an impasse. They might have pondered so thoroughly their storyline that they can no longer see the forest from the trees (or their clichés). This kind of help doesn’t come easy and often needs to be part of the story. Organic help, I call it, and it’s best when it is part of the endless revisions that determines the will of the writer.
Drive was my fourth attempt at a novel. I’m persistent but perseverance doesn’t complete a novel. It’s hundreds of little things but one larger one. A story needs to be read and brought to life. And Don can do that. At times we just talked, the College of Two we called it, but there was always a direction pointing to completion.
I don’t know how many great novels were NEVER completed but I can tell you how many great novels WERE completed: all. Whether you’re a journalist, a memoirist, or a novelist; you ain’t nothing unless you finish. “To finish” is a sports term and so is the word “coach” and there’s a lot in common between these disciplines of writing and sports. Listen to the great athletes and one thing you’ll find in common: they all credit their coach.
Most of us have one good story in us. Let Don help. The path can be lonely but harmony often sounds better than a scream."
Author of the novel Drive and soon to be released True East
Masters in Literature, Harvard University.
"I have had the honor to work with Don Gervich for the past two years on my series of fiction novels - one published, second one on its way! He's played a major part in polishing it and coaching me to stay on topic, since I tend to become scattered at times. Recently, a student whom I met through one of Don's writing classes purchased my book and became inspired to dust off a project he had put aside. When he mentioned that he wanted Don to help him with it, here is what I told him:
I love, love, love, Don's editing style! He underlines what he likes, crosses out what he feels is not needed, corrects grammar, makes suggestions, writes side notes, lets me know what's not clear to him, makes me think harder, and basically polishes it up without taking away my voice, or the essence of the story. He's phenomenal!"
Author of Broken Voodoo Doll
July 27, 2014
Reviews of Don Gervich as a Writing Coach
"A graduate of Wellesley College in 1965, and in the major English Literature, I entered the class of Don Gervich with misgivings. I had learned to be a critic and not a creator. Four semesters later I have a voice and style.
It is difficult to put into words the constellation of qualities that make Don an excellent teacher. He looks at each writing piece through the eyes of the stumbling author and offers constructive, gentle suggestions at both the detail and cosmic level. He never discourages any of his students no matter their stage of development. Progress is evident in the case of each.
Don's style is unique. I recommend his services either in a course or in private tutoring/editorializing.”
completing a first memoir book
December 4, 2012
or email email@example.com
"Don. Gervich has provided editing and consultation services for me on two novels, as well as several short stories and articles over the past several years. He possess both the writing skills and knowledge to improve the grammar, structure and professionalism of each project. More than that, he takes a personal interest in ensuring that each piece reaches its full potential. He is an excellent listener, which is rare, and always goes above and beyond my expectations. I give Don Gervich my highest recommendation."
Author of Twilight of the Marijuana Gods
September 11, 2012
"In 2015, during the Living Stories classes in Cambridge, Don instilled in me the Joy of Writing. Having moved to the US from the Netherlands, I decided to write a book—but never having written a book before, I realised writing a book from scratch is not easy. The assignments Don gave me during the Living Stories classes inspired some of the stories in my novel Colours of a Cultural Chameleon. I am very grateful.
Five years later – having moved back to the Netherlands – I reconnected with Don. I was in the final stages of the draft of my Manuscript. Don willingly and enthusiastically helped me by giving sentence-by-sentence comments and edits. Amazingly, all of this happened through digital technology (Zoom and Google drive)!
Don’s feedback allowed me to grow as a writer, by asking open questions and by, not only giving grammatical advice, but also helping me use a more active voice in the narrative. He encouraged me to sprinkle the novel with ‘foreign words’. His comments also showed me that he enjoyed the stories and my voice in the novel. This was the encouragement I needed to finalise the book and decision to publish it!
For my next novel I will definitely ‘fly in’ Don’s help again."
Author of Colours of a Cultural Chameleon
November 20, 2020
"A little over a year ago, I signed up for a writing class with Don Gervich on a whim. I loved writing short stories and thought it would be an enjoyable way to spend an evening, once a week.
I had taken a few writing classes in college, but I found that I was never really comfortable with sharing my work. I was nervous until I discovered the warm and welcoming environment Don had created.
Don’s careful instruction has improved my writing tremendously. He seamlessly blends critical comments with complimentary, and his exquisite encouragement and suggestion have led me to sign up for his class, again and again.
Through Don’s guidance, I have developed the confidence to apply to graduate school for an MA in English. And of course, I brought my writing submission in to class for Don’s editing genius and feedback!
I strongly recommend his services to any and all writers!"
Writer of memoir and short fiction
December 29, 2013
"Don works with me as a writing coach. He is supportive and motivates me to write. These are some of the things he has helped me with this year:
- Provides some basic outlines and examples of key elements for writing stories, such as setting, character development, dialogue, plot and story arc… but never pushes these concepts
- Helps to motivate me to produce the stories
- Enables me to keep my ideas contained
- Is never judgmental or critical, but will gently steer me in a more useful direction if he sees that I’m not reaching my goal
- Periodically provides reading lists to enhance my experience and knowledge
- In working with Don for only one year, I have produced 2 dozen 1,500+ word pieces that I take enough pride in to share with others.
The best way to improve Don’s service is for me to write more and to get Don’s feedback more often. I hope to continue to work with Don a regular basis indefinitely.”
Writer of short stories
December 12, 2013