CATAPULT 4-Week Online Nonfiction Workshop: Writing Personal Essays with Substance

Personal essays have gotten a bad rap in some circles, decried as hyper-confessional, self-indulgent diary entries. And the truth is, a lot of them are. But there’s so much more to personal-essay writing than that unfortunate trope. Successful personal essays don’t just recap something wild that happened to you -- they bring the reader through the story with vivid details and active scenes, and show how the experience changed you.
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Editorial Services

I'm available for developmental editing on book-length memoir manuscript with services suited to your needs and budget.

I've edited hundreds of personal essays and articles as Deputy Editor of the award-winning online publication Narratively, and have worked one-on-one with dozens of memoirists in my role as an instructor at Catapult, Gotham Writers' Workshop, and the Fairfield Country Writers' Studio.

My private editing clients have landed agents and book deals based on the manuscript revisions we worked on together. Here's what a couple of them had to say:


I loved Lilly's attention to detail. She showed me where readers might become confused and offered great suggestions on how to better weave an emotional arc into my story line. Sometimes it's hard to 'kill your darlings' but she was able to point out the ones I really needed to consider chopping. I also appreciated her timeliness, professionalism, and communication. 
-Charlotte Kaufman, former client for her memoir-in-progress
She pulls no punches, that Lilly Dancyger, and in less time than it takes to push the return key she has laid bare the heavy-handed, over writing that so often plagues my writing. I come at my craft with a calligrapher's intent of giving form to my text in an expressive, voluminous, manner. Lilly, and thank the Lord for it,  possesses the keen eye of a true alchemist, turning the least of my offerings into blisteringly sleek awarenesses that all but crawl out from the page and slap you across the face, they’re so good, so unexpected. 
-Regina Louise, former client for her forthcoming memoir Someone Has Led This Child to Believe: A Case History of Love


-Developmental editing for book-length works: Whether you're just setting out on a book project and aren't sure where to start or you need a fresh set of eyes on your completed manuscript, I can help. 

  • Zoomed-in, scene-by-scene and line-by-line editing for full manuscripts starting at $1,500 depending on length and current state of development.
  • Big-picture evaluation of structure, tone, and pacing available for $750. Get a ~1,000-word write-up of any structural or foundational issues that need to be addressed in the early stages of editing. Starting with this service will save you time and money, because these issues should be addressed before you dive into a more expensive and time-consuming line-edit. 
  • Discount available for a combination of the above. Custom packages available depending on your needs and budget. Email me to work out a system that will work best for you, and for a quote.  

I'm happy to answer any questions about these services, and to provide detailed quotes if you send me a brief email about what you're looking for!

Email for a detailed quote.