About

SophyDale-1

Hello, I’m Sophy.

Here’s the short version of my about page, the one that works for my six year old:

I help people tell stories.

A longer version is: I am a writer, editor, coach and mentor, based in a small Scottish seaside town just outside Edinburgh. I’ve worked with a huge range of writers, including Margaret Atwood, Ian Rankin, Janice Galloway, Ali Smith, John Burnside, Jackie Kay and Naomi Alderman. I’ve worked for publishers including Canongate Books and Frances Lincoln, for the Scottish Book Trust and Scottish Poetry Library and run the BBC Short Story Award. Along with the novelist Alan Warner, I set up Long Lunch Press, which published Irvine Welsh, James Meek, Elizabeth Reeder and Jen Hadfield. Three years ago, I set up the Spark Writing Development Agency, with a team including literary agents Judy Moir, Fraser Ross Associates and writers Susie Maguire and Linda Cracknell. Most recently, I’ve also been running a children’s Book Festival in Edinburgh and a year round programme of storytelling and author events.

This is the ‘official’ version of my about page, the formal version that I would use for a job application. However, the official version never tells the full story, does it?

The even longer version is: I am first and foremost an editor. I love working closely with writers and helping them to shape their stories, to strengthen what’s already there, and to cut whatever is taking away from the story they really want to tell. I think all writers need two skills: creating and then editing. We all learn to create before we even learn language – but some of us almost have that inborn skill educated out of us. Others hold on to it, but need to learn – or at least to hone – the skill of editing: being able to step back from what you have created, to get enough distance to see how to make it better. As Terry Pratchett says,

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

The gift of editing is learning how to move beyond telling yourself the story to telling your story in the best possible way.

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. – Philip Pullman

Have a look at how you can work with me here.

Brighten up your inbox with my monthly Inspiration Letters (along with access to my private Facebook group for writers, and more resources, including a taster e-course, that you can find out all about here…). Sign up here.

And of course, get in touch – I’d love to hear your story. Email me at sparkforwriters[at]outlook[dot]com.