Editing Your Story

Editing tips and advice. Sample topics: saving broken stories, revising tricks, using beat sheets for revisions, making our writing stronger, MS Word tricks, fixing unlikable characters, etc.

Help! What If I Can’t Find Beta Readers?

January 17, 2017 Writing Stuff
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Every writer struggles to get their thoughts on the page and make their ideas make sense to others. The typical advice for how to resolve that issue is to use beta readers, but what if we can’t find beta readers? What can we do?

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Picking Editors: Tips for Finding a Developmental Editor

December 29, 2016 Writing Stuff
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When trying to find the best editor for us, we might struggle more with developmental editors because the usual technique of asking for sample edits doesn’t work. So how should we find a developmental editor who’s a good match for us?

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Overwhelmed by a Huge Revision?

December 13, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Many big-picture elements are related: A problem in one area of our story often weakens other areas. Luckily, if we understand those relationships, we’ll better see how fixing one aspect will strengthen the others, making our revisions easier and more efficient.

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5 Ways to Discover & Develop Our Voice

December 8, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Many people have tried to identify what goes into creating our voice, but it’s a hard thing to define. We often just know it when we see it. Voice is personal—not just for writers, but also for readers. Yet we can identify—and strengthen—the 5 elements that go into our voice.

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Strengthening Stakes: It’s Not about Going Big

September 27, 2016 Writing Stuff
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A story’s stakes are one element that keeps readers turning pages because they want to see if our characters succeed. At first glance, we might think bigger stakes are better for sucking in readers, but not every story lends themselves to huge stakes. Are “quieter” stories doomed to fail the “page-turner” test?

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Balancing Elements: How Can We Know the Right Amount?

September 15, 2016 Writing Stuff
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I’ve offered several posts here about balancing various elements of our story, but there’s still room for debate because we have to find the right balance for our voice, genre, tone, and style—for our story. That means there is no perfect amount of backstory or description or emotion.

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Backstory: Finding the Right Balance — Guest: Janice Hardy

September 8, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Today, Janice Hardy shares her revision advice on how to include the right amount of backstory. Too much slows the pace, and too little can leave readers confused. Her tips help us avoid the issue of slow pacing, learn how to hide backstory, and identify when we need more.

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Why Is “Unlikable” Often a Deal-Breaker for Readers?

June 21, 2016 Random Musings
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A recent article about unlikable heroines pointed out that likability is often more of a problem for female characters than for male characters. While I’ve learned how to minimize those issues with my characters, the problem still rankles me.

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4 Tips for “Setting” a Mood — Guest: Becca Puglisi

June 14, 2016 Writing Stuff
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The Thesaurus books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are a must-have for every fiction author, and they now have two new Thesauri books: Urban Setting and Rural Setting. Becca’s here today to talk about how setting is important for more than just describing the time and place of our scene.

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Plot Obstacles & Character Agency

May 17, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Ashley asked a question in the comments last week that gets at the heart of strong, proactive characters. Even in literary fiction, characters are usually faced with making choices, and whatever triggers those choices is where we’ll find plot and character agency.

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