Personal editing. Professional results.
April 21, 2024
Know your kinds 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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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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November 17, 2023
How good memoirs make a point

Sometimes when a memoir author starts a book, they don't know the point of their story. Memoirs are built out of personal experience, but the events need to stand for something universal. I took a fine baseball tour with my 11-year-old Little Leaguer in Stealing Home. The story stood for the faith that you can't tell […]

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November 10, 2023
Of Veterans and Apostrophes

Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty asks, "Why doesn’t 'Veterans Day' have an apostrophe?" Ah, the apostrophe. Humble and omnipresent punctuation mark, misused everywhere. Your usage for this weekend's holiday could be "Veterans' Day" (quite rare), but not "Veteran's Day" (incorrect) In using 'Veterans Day', the Grammar Girl says, "Veterans" is acting like an adjective, telling you […]

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