Personal editing. Professional results.
October 13, 2023
Ways to clarify who's talking

Speaking clearly lets us absorb the dialogue Novels are built on acres of dialogue. You can always point to a book like E.L Doctrow's Ragtime as the exception, but so very much talking pushes a story forward. You can help your characters tell the story by helping everyone know who's speaking at all times. Where […]

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October 6, 2023
Making Bullets Do a Summary's Bidding

Summarizing is a superior skill to call on while writing, but it can be vexing to slim things down. One trick to try is the magic bullet of bullets, the copy that starts with a bullet symbol. We're trained to keep the writing concise when we begin with a bullet. A set of opening pages […]

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September 21, 2023
How summary lures your readers

You might be the writer who doesn't need summaries. You're probably not, since you're not the Almighty. Only the Great Maker could skip the step of telling people what the creation was promising. The stories that started the world were formed when there was nothing else to watch or read or hear. You and I […]

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September 15, 2023
Use your bio for superpower

Many books sell on the strength of their authors. Authors who are bestsellers have their names above any title, riding on the reputation and good regard for prior books. New authors can reach for this power too. It begins with your author's bio. That summary of your life is important for debut nonfiction writers, with […]

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September 14, 2023
Wants vs. needs for your characters

A character knows about what they want. They are unaware of what they need. That want is external. Anna wants to gain control over her life's choices: relationships, work, pleasure. Even choosing which others she will serve. At the start of the twentieth century, that control was beyond a woman's reach — an unprivileged woman, […]

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September 1, 2023
Story tropes are your friends

We have expectations about the things we love. If you love stories (all authors do) then you have expectations about their elements. These are tropes. When they're characters in the story, they might be archetypes. When you don't like these expected elements, because they feel tired, you might call them cliches. They are a delicious […]

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July 30, 2023
Emulate other books to grow your own

You've got to read novels in order to write yours The tomatoes in my back yard didn’t need to see other tomatoes to grow. They started from seed, after all. So what good does it do to find something to emulate, while growing? The tomatoes are now small and ripening. Success is at hand. But […]

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June 10, 2023
What AI Ain't

AI is a bullet, all right. Not a silver one. Still deadly. Today a class kicks off that will teach writers how to prompt a software program. $89 later, there will be hundreds more writers using AI. Prompt writing, and then revisions to prompts. Then AI output revisions, once you get to a certain point, […]

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June 10, 2023
Deep-third person is POV magic

Making your storytelling invisible and powerful is not easy. Not all at once, anyway. You can be invisible, but there's no power. Academic writing walks that tightrope. You can be powerful but not invisible. That's the realm of melodrama. To be both these things at once in fiction, try the deep-third point of view. Third […]

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May 9, 2023
Old-school tools: Index cards

Plot is the enemy of character. At least that’s the advice you find throughout the writing world, usually delivered by authors and instructors who have whipped a plot into shape so they could finish a novel. The trouble with this advice: While plot might be the enemy, we still long for something interesting to happen […]

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