Behind the Story: Being a Lead Editor

Story Team Blog 0 Comments

Our desire is not for all of our stories to read the same or have the same format, but rather, that the story contains the essential elements of a gospel story: creation, fall, redemption, and new creation.

Lindsey Lundin is a middle school English teacher, poet, and one of the Lead Editors for Story Team. Lindsey and her husband Brian lead the Story Team writers. As a Lead Editor Lindsey supervises the editing of written stories and provides final editorial approval. Lindsey sat down with Story Team and answered a few questions about how this role on the team works.

Story Team: Describe your role as a Second Editor on Story Team. What are your duties, and why is your role necessary?

Lindsey Lundin: When a story is submitted and the initial editor completes their copyedits, the story moves on to one of our two Lead Editors. My job is then to review the story and make any missed copyedits, and then to edit for consistency of style. Story Team follows a combination of AP Style and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, along with a burgeoning (but unofficial) Austin Stone Story Team Style Guide (which is really just a document we update on Google Drive).

Then, I do a content check. Our desire is not for all of our stories to read the same or have the same format, but rather, that the story contains the essential elements of a gospel story: creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. I’m also checking the theology of the story and constantly asking whether the story is communicating a bible-based and solid theological message to our readers.

Once I’m finished with any edits that need to be made for any of the aforementioned reasons, then I upload the final version to Basecamp (our project management system of choice), and provide feedback to the initial editor.

How does your role differ from that of an initial editor?

Our editors are a hard-working crew. When a story is first submitted, they look it over (no touching this round!) and provide a “content edit” to the writer. They give suggestions on any changes that need to be made in the structure, flow, order, or style of the piece. A few days later, the writer submits a revised version of the story, and the initial editor then copyedits the story and uploads that version to Basecamp. Then, the editor provides detailed feedback to the writer on the changes that were made, as well as on the types of edits that were needed.

Our editors are the ones who love our writers well. They encourage and challenge them, and then they encourage some more and offer suggestions for future stories. They make our writers better and better all the time.

My job is then to love our editors well by helping them to grow in their abilities. I do this by providing feedback to the editors. Then, my job is to love our readership well. I do this by providing consistency of style (when applicable), by editing for readability, and ultimately, by making sure that the theological statements included on our stories are true and based on the Word alone.

A large part of your role is providing feedback to Story Team editors. What is challenging about this, and how do you balance being helpful with being pastoral?

I think the most challenging part of providing feedback is deciding what to include, and what not to include, in my feedback to an editor. If I actually listed out all of the changes that needed to be made to some stories, it could be really overwhelming, or potentially crushing, to an editor. I always include the theological issues (if any were found) in the feedback. That’s essential for growth, and it’s absolutely essential if part of my role is to love an editor well. After that, I have to decide what would be the best use of an editor’s time to read through and grow from for the next round of stories.

I have definitely struggled with the helpful versus pastoral part of providing feedback. Our editors volunteer their time and are so compassionate and generous with our writers. Most of them are not professional editors (I’m not either), and I need to remember that when lovingly providing growth opportunities in feedback. If I am in a hurry and try to bang out feedback quickly, then I’m often far too direct. Sometimes I wish there was someone to give me feedback on my feedback, but that’s just not how it works.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

The most challenging part of being a Lead Editor is that I’m the end of the line for a story. This plays out in two stressful ways. The first is that I am the final set of eyes on a story, and after it leaves my hands, the story is supposed to be flawless. But as a fallible human being who happens to also be an amateur editor, I make mistakes. This weighs heavily on me and I shudder when mistakes are found. I need to get over that, but I also need to take my role seriously and avoid the last minute or late-night bouts of editing, which lend themselves to mistakes.

The second reason that being the end of the line is challenging, is that if I’m in a crazy week at work (I’m a middle school English teacher) and I just can’t get to a story, then that story gets stuck. I can really bog down the system when I’m not able to fulfill my role, or when I procrastinate and allow stories to pile up.

But even with these challenges, I love my role as a Second Editor so much! These stories speak to my heart every time, and it is a blessing to serve the body of Christ alongside this amazing community of artists.

Feature image by Christian Rudman

Story Team

The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.

View All Posts