My Thoughts, Self-editing Tips, The Writer's Life

7 Fiber-Rich Ideas for Solving Writer’s Block

Close your laptop. Wait…not yet, read this first. After you close your laptop, pick up a pen and a little notebook – the tiny kind you always got in your Christmas stocking because they were four for a dollar and came in different colors and your mom thought they were “so cute.” (You should be able to find one in that box under your bed where you threw all the gifts from your Christmas stocking that weren’t edible.) Head out to a place you’ve never been – a new coffee shop, a park bench, a bus station – anywhere you…

Read More

My Thoughts, Self-editing Tips

When You Care, Send the Very Best

This is going to be a short post. Because, quite frankly, the topic only needs a few words. Here they are: Never* send an editor or agent a first draft. I could end the post right there. But just in case there’s a lingering “huh?” out there somewhere, I’ll elaborate with three reasons for this common-sense advice. First drafts, even really good ones, typically still suffer from fixable plot and character problems. It doesn’t matter that your writing is excellent, such problems signal impatience to editors and agents. It’s good be be known for your passion and your dedication to…

Read More

General, Other Writer's Words, Self-editing Tips, The Publishing Process

Breaking the Rules

Just yesterday, an Internet friend asked me to read his short story and offer him a little editorial advice. Sometimes I get nervous when friends ask me to read their writing, but I’d shared enough of a conversation with him to expect he’d know his way around words. I was right. Even though it was a first draft, the observational story (non-fiction, but with the textures of a great fiction piece) had plenty of bite and surprising depth. One of the things that struck me about his story was the manner in which he introduced dialogue for the various characters.…

Read More

My Thoughts, Self-editing Tips

Bend and Break

One of the more common problems I run into when editing fiction is the “dimensionless character.” You know her. She’s defined by…um…her lack of definition. She’s a paper doll trying to make a splash in a three-dimensional world. Now, when I say “lack of definition,” I don’t mean she’s not well described (though sometimes this is also true). That she has pink streaks in her midnight-black hair is a fine detail, but it is a meaningless (and potentially unnecessary) detail unless we know enough about her to care why she has those streaks. Perhaps it’s evidence of a rebellious nature.…

Read More

My Thoughts, Other Writer's Words, Self-editing Tips

The Mysterious Importance of Mystery

Not so many years ago, my younger son became a fascinated by videogames. Like his older brother before him, this fascination grew into a full-blown addiction for a time. But unlike his brother – who suffered through the challenges of finishing a level using the age-old technique known as “if at first you don’t succeed, stomp your feet, pout, growl, try out a new word to see if your parents notice, then try again” – my younger son was known to ask, “is there a cheat code for this?” Younger son has always been rather pragmatic; he likes order and…

Read More

General, Meaningless Drivel, My Favorite Things, Self-editing Tips

A Book, Some Editorial Advice and a Picture of a Kitty & a Puppy

It’s Friday, which means absolutely nothing to a freelancer since all days end up looking the same. But for the sake of the rest of the working world, I’m going to play along. Hooray for the weekend! (For the record, I almost never use exclamation marks. This is not because F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote of them, “An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes,” but because I rarely feel all that exclamatory. So, if you see one on this blog, it’s either a sign of the apocalypse or a snide comment on the sentence that precedes it.…

Read More

General, My Thoughts, Self-editing Tips, The Writer's Life

7 Things that Keep Editors in Business

A long time ago, in a life far, far away, I worked as an assistant manager of a Pizza Hut. The owner of this particular store (a former Pizza Hut corporate big-wig) had hired a man we’ll call “Gary” (since that was his name) to globally manage the stores. Since each store already had its own manager and more than a few assistant managers, I wondered what Gary’s responsibilities entailed. I found out one Friday in the middle of the lunch rush hour. He entered the restaurant as any other customer, waited to be seated, then proceeded to order enough…

Read More