Personal editing. Professional results.
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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April 5, 2024
Women are tops in lit

An extensive article from NPR tells us that women are the most likely gender to succeed in literature and books. What's more, female writers have a better chance of making a good living off writing books, more so than directing movies or producing shows. Planet Money reporter Greg Rosalsky notes that women once authored less […]

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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 23, 2024
Lift your summary game by reviewing

If you are an avid reader and a devoted writer, you can add a third leg to keep your stool from falling over. You can review. There are four kinds of reviews. Endorsements: Hand-picked readers with a book, or professional chops, review your book in advance. "The Author of" or their job title works as […]

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February 16, 2024
Ways to Get Writing Done

When we talk about writing at a Finishing School class, we have questions about how to work. Does your practicing make you succeed, or do you rely on talent? We study the way our breaks turn into procrastination. Every author is curious about what works better: to write daily in small chunks, or produce in […]

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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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