About Deadlines ?>

About Deadlines

It’s late Sunday night and my plan to write a week’s worth of posts has been foiled by the usual assortment of weekend activities plus the addition of a time-suck we in the freelance editing world call “gettin’ paid.” For a freelancer, deadlines are no respecter of nights and weekends. I might be able to steal another day or three if I really thought it necessary, but depending on how tightly the book is scheduled through the rest of the…

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Help Keep Stephen Off Prozac Writing Contest Extravaganza ?>

Help Keep Stephen Off Prozac Writing Contest Extravaganza

UPDATE: A big ‘thank you’ to all who have already entered the contest. Each one of you is brilliant and beautiful (and/or handsome) and deserves to win for your writing skill, apparent compassion and Santa-Yoda covetousness. Now, tell all your friends, okay? (Don’t worry, they’re not quite as talented as you are. No way they can win that Santa-Yoda. But by asking, you’ll make them feel special. And that’s a good thing.) I tend to get a little bit depressed…

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Confidence (and Lack) ?>

Confidence (and Lack)

I‘m just going to come right out and say it: sometimes I feel completely incapable as an editor. When these times come, I stare at the author’s words and they swirl together like some cheap TV special effect to spell out “You are a fraud!” I worry every time the phone rings that one of my publisher friends will be on the other end of the line. “Hey, Stephen?” “Yes…?” “We’ve been looking at the book you just edited. You…

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7 Fiber-Rich Ideas for Solving Writer’s Block ?>

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…

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When You Care, Send the Very Best ?>

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,…

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Breaking the Rules ?>

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…

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Titles, a Sentence and Contest Plans ?>

Titles, a Sentence and Contest Plans

Friday Item The FirstĀ – Titles I like book titles. I make them up all the time. In fact, most of my short stories began as nothing more than a title. If you’ve memorized James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure, you know that on page 38 he lists “making up titles” as a great way to spark plot ideas. Well, continuing the spirit of generosity I began yesterday, I thought I’d just go ahead and give you five titles.* Now all…

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