Tristen Bakker · Editor and word person

About me

When I started editing, I worked in film. I cut together stories from raw material, creating character- and story-driven documentary. I crafted narrative film that emphasized “show, don’t tell.”

Years later, disillusioned by the industry of filmmaking, I moved from Toronto, Canada, where I was born, to Berlin, Germany. Here my goal was to live and work more creatively. I found my skills as a story-editor for film migrated well to becoming a story-editor for the written word.

I joined CIEP, the UK association of editors and proofreaders. I took courses in copyediting, line editing, and proofreading. I began writing and editing reviews for Modern Times Review, a documentary magazine. And soon I was able to move into editing novels and memoir. That is where my true skill in editing—my love of story and character—was able to shine.

I live by the principle of “do no harm,” in life and in work. When I edit, I focus on retaining the author’s voice, as I feel this is one of the most important roles for an editor. It can be all too easy to edit for the way we would write rather than staying immersed in the author’s tone and style. I enjoy helping author’s flesh out the uniqueness of their writing while at the same time adhering to a publisher’s stylistic guidelines. And I love finding continuity and plot holes—it always gives a me a little thrill to spot and then solve these with the writer.

I edit in American, British, and Canadian English styles using CMoS, New Hart’s Rules, and The Canadian Style as my razors. I work within genre fiction (thriller, mystery, humour, sci-fi, speculative, women-centred, apocalyptic) for adults and young adults. I also work with memoir, and develop the tone, plot, and characters similarly to working with novels. I have worked on many other styles of manuscripts from self-help to erotica to poetry. I also enjoy working with essays, criticism, and reviews, specifically within the fields of music, film, and performance. Other non-fiction subjects I enjoy are philosophy, psychology, sociology, ecology, and education.

I work with independent authors, trade and hybrid publishers, non-profits, and cultural organizations.

I am also a musician, filmmaker, and documentarian. I approach my work from a creative perspective, whether it be editing, problem solving, or handling the words of others. I know how to work with creative people on creative work because I am one.