Personal editing. Professional results.
April 19, 2024
Knowing types of sentence pauses

Speed in stoppage is important to sentence pacing. Punctuation is good manners and the way to the top of the story mountain. Using periods is the surest way to halt a sentence — but many sentences pause on the way to the next clause. Too many sentences with only a period could be choppy writing. […]

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April 12, 2024
Use scenarios to see books

Writing is a lot of summing up. You work to become an author who doesn't waste any time, and so you compress. High points, please. Events-only, or major topics from a table of contents, comprise your summary. Any book, fiction or non-fiction, benefits from a view from on high. That's your author's chair. The scenario […]

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March 29, 2024
Differing your voice, style, and tone

Keeping your storytelling on track means telling the tale with consistency. When I started my literature study in the early years of the century, the differences between style, voice, and tone were a mystery. I remember walking to a used bookstore in Iowa City one Saturday morning. I came away with a 1960 copy of […]

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March 15, 2024
Can that character be you?

Autofiction is one way that writers mine their lives for a novel's story. Classic novels have been disguised as autobiographies. There's David Copperfield, Look Homeward Angel, On the Road, and The Things They Carried. Yes, you can write that sort of book, presenting your life as fiction. Frankly, many readers will assume a novel is […]

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February 9, 2024
How to do beta reading

Beta reading is the turbo-charger for revising a book. Finding beta readers and delivering a good beta is not simple, but there are practices and rules that make this important task easier to accomplish. During my Workshop's in-person era, writers took on beta duties for each other, twenty pages at a time each month. We […]

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February 2, 2024
How Memoirs Make Meaning

Memoir is writing based on a portion of our life, a part filled with meaning that a reader can grab for their own. Understanding, compassion, inspiration, education, empathy; we can get any of those from a memoir, Perhaps you're starting from the idea of a loose memoir: limited structure, at first. Or maybe a story […]

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January 26, 2024
Ten Rules for Writing from Elmore

A new book on my editing desk promises to be a lot of fun. Small-time crooks without much common sense play big parts in this novel. It's the kind of world made popular by Elmore Leonard. He wrote well into his 80s, including novels that he adapted from the TV series Justified that a producer […]

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January 19, 2024
Make dialogue cleaner, clearer

Your copyeditor or line editor uses the Chicago Manual of Style. But knowing these style and grammar conventions yourself helps your book, too. A manuscript that arrives on my desk with clear writing gets lifted even higher. For example, there's the use of a single-word utterance. How do you handle something like, "Where?" CMOS says […]

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January 12, 2024
Let your speakers go nameless

  Dialogue brings bright light to stories. The sound of voices in a tuned-up conversation makes us lean in to listen. It's even easier to follow when we hear just two voices trading lines. Tell yourself to think hard about whether you must bring a third or fourth voice into your dialogue scenes. One reason […]

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December 2, 2023
What it means when your book's too long

Fewer tie ins really help Authors working on novels and nonfiction of all breeds always eye word count limits. These limits used to be both longer (on the minimum end) and shorter on the maximum. Now it appears that anything goes, if you can write it well. Novellas and short novels come in under 50,000 […]

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