Personal editing. Professional results.
October 9, 2021
Stories don't insist on transformations

The work of the professional author is revision. But there’s one book aspect that doesn’t insist on changes: the story’s outcome. Many of us prefer a story where the transformation is the reward for the suffering that we like to savor. On a recent episode of Fresh Air, film buff Eddie Muller says of his […]

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July 19, 2021
How to avoid a too-big book

Even an author who's published multiple books feels the siren call of a big book. One day, they might think, I can get that 150,000-word epic published. I've cut a lot, they might say, already 20,000 words. I need to stick to my guns, submit something that big, and not get talked out of it. […]

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June 2, 2021
Is it National Doughnut Day?

Today is National Donut Day. But is it really spelled and styled that way? The question offers a look at three facets of copyediting: style, house-style, and usage.

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May 25, 2021
Point of View: how many do you need?

Writing stories in first person is an electric thrill for many authors. You have easy access to emotions and sensations, plus the mystery of solving the problems of the plot is intense, too. Sometimes it’s tempting to want to use multiple first person points of view. Consider why you need more than one.

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May 14, 2021
Remove filters to get your POV closer

Some easy writing advice to follow, offered all the time, is show instead of tell. But it takes careful work to preserve the showing while you remove filter words from your writing. These are words that make a story less vivid and make the writer more obvious. You don’t want the latter to happen. We […]

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December 13, 2020
Give your characters agency to drive a story

When I coach authors on their stories, I advocate the relentless use of agency for their characters. Agency is not a term that is common to writing instruction. I first heard about agency in a seminar taught by novelist Jim Shepard at the Tin House Writer's Workshop. Shepard was dynamic in those classes, teaching from […]

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July 7, 2020
Write well. And remember what to do with commas and conjunctions

I often see manuscripts and drafts that are relentless about using a comma whenever the word "And" or "But" starts a sentence. English teachers must have drilled this into us. Comma use right after but or and start a sentence is simply incorrect. From The Editor's Blog, these examples are incorrect usage. X But, not because […]

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December 3, 2019
Open your wheelhouse: submit your requests

You might have been fortunate enough to have an agent request pages for your book. You may have taken a lot of time to make them better first. For example, if you're writing crime fiction (a mystery) you may say 1. My book is too long today 2. I don’t want my mystery to be […]

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October 5, 2019
Is there a memoir in your journals?

Journaling is a worthy element of the writing life. The material is right at hand, all those things that have happened to you. Or your journal might run to dreams and wishes, or deconstruct the events you've been witness to, yesterday or long ago. A journal though, no matter how carefully and faithfully kept, is […]

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September 10, 2019
How to give readers a break with chapters

"I like big chapters, long ones," said just about nobody who reads books. Readers need rests, like the rest stops on a 100-mile century bike ride. I did one of those rides a couple of times. Never ride the century, we'd say. Just ride to the next rest stop. Books can be centuries, with historical […]

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