Editing, Self-editing Tips, Self-promotion, The Publishing Process

What to Expect From Your Editor

I hear you’re interested in hiring an editor. Smart move. So what are you waiting for? Grab your checkbook (do those still exist?), your manuscript, and your realistic expectations and get to it. What’s that? You don’t know what to expect? Here. I’ll help. Ten Things Your Editor Can Do Your editor can see what your novel could be someday, no matter what it looks like today. Your editor can show you all the little pet phrases and words you repeat to distraction. Your editor can solve plot problems that would make readers want to throw your book into a…

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Editing, My Thoughts, The Writer's Life, Writing Encouragement

The Weight of Your Words

I love my computer*. Let me say that up front, in case it thinks otherwise and decides to unflash its memory. But I have fond (if only for the purpose of this post) memories of a time when writing hurt more than it does today. Oh sure, we have carpal tunnel syndrome and baked sperm syndrome (well, some of us, anyway), but those are fancy aches. Yesterday, a writer’s pain was blue-collar. It was immediate and visceral. Remember writer’s cramp? Now that was a pain you could feel. It started somewhere between thumb and forefinger, then exploded up the arm…

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Editing, Self-editing Tips, The Writer's Life, Writing tips

Make Something Happen

“Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard I love this quote. Not just because it indirectly gives purpose to the existence of content editors. (Mostly because of that.) But also because it’s impossibly clever and initially appears to be cleverly impossible. I mean, how do you do that? Some readers tend to skip long descriptive sections. So you should leave those out, right? Not necessarily. There’s nothing wrong with good descriptive writing. If your voice happens to be descriptive, some readers are going to go skipping. You can’t stop them. Other readers become…

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Editing, Meaningless Drivel, The Writer's Life

The Maybe (An Imaginary Conversation Between Writer and Editor)

Writer: Which is the better career – janitor or hairdresser? Editor: I take it you got my editorial notes. Writer: Yeah. So tell me. Which one? Editor: You already have a job. Writer: Humor me. Editor: Hairdresser. Writer: Wrong. Janitor. Editor: I didn’t know there was a right answer. Writer: Exactly! Do you see what I did there? You just fell into my segue trap. Editor: You’re talking about my notes, aren’t you. Clever. Writer: I know, right? So about those notes… Editor: Which ones? Writer: Well…all of them. But let’s start with the one that says “you show great…

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Editing, Snark Alert

What To Do When You Get Your Editorial Memo

Ping. An email just arrived. The one you’ve been waiting for. The one you’ve been dreading. The subject line is three words long. Your editorial memo! The exclamation mark almost makes those words seem benign. Cute, even. But you know what the words are hiding. Red ink. Six weeks ago you sent your finished manuscript (the seventh draft, if you don’t count the first five) to your editor. And now it’s back. With notes. Comments. Suggestions. Demands. What’s a writer to do? Here. I’ll help. Step 1: Stare at the email without opening it for at least 10 minutes or…

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Editing, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized, Writing tips

Listen Carefully, Your Manuscript Stinks

Your manuscript doesn’t speak English. (Or American. Or Australian. Or Esperanto. Or whatever you call your native tongue.) It speaks Manuscript. This is why all the threats you sling at it in your native tongue go unheeded. (Well, that, and the fact that it doesn’t like being threatened. It can read your tone even if it doesn’t understand your words.) And while yelling at your manuscript may help release existential angst (Cue “Shout” by Tears for Fears), increased volume still doesn’t result in increased comprehension. When you’re having a novel crisis, it could be simply because your novel is truly…

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When to Ignore Your Editor

I’m not a member of any elite editorial clubs. I don’t dine with editors who have touched the Manuscripts of the Gods. I don’t have an MFA or a PhD or a WtF in Writing/Editing/Pontificating. I don’t play tambourine in an all-editorial band and I haven’t been contacted by the The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times or NPR to do an interview on what it’s like to walk with literary giants or play the tambourine in an all-editorial band. So please feel free to take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt. Or a…

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