I believe in beta readers. Anyone can be a beta reader (also called a first reader), from your mom to your best friend to your coworker to your favorite librarian. A beta reader is anyone who reads your work and tells you what they think. Their feedback can be...
In my experience, many writers don’t know the difference between developmental editing, copy editing, and proofreading. To further muddy things, a developmental edit may also be called a content edit, or a substantive edit, or even a full edit or a deep edit. So where to start? Before we get into what these terms mean, I say, start with how you feel about your manuscript.
Too often I see promising writers who don’t know how to plot a novel. Writing a novel is a skill that is honed over time, and even the pros don’t always get it on the first try. The writer Nalo Hopkinson told me that you never really learn how to write a novel, you learn […]
How much is enough? How much is too much? In my work with fiction writers, I've encountered those who underdescribe and those who overdescribe. More typically, though, it's quality not quantity that's the biggest problem. There are two primary purposes for...
What is a developmental edit and how do I know I’m ready for it? I think of a developmental edit as the deepest edit. It’s what I do to try and help make the novel that you wrote as close as possible to the novel you meant to write. Sometimes called a content edit or […]
Writer’s block is a common experience where you feel like you can’t write. I see it as a symptom rather than a problem. Here’s some advice for getting past it. Remember that the world is not set up to support your writing. You have professional and personal commitments that can get in the way of […]
If you’re lucky, the perfect title for your novel sprang into your head without effort. But most of the time, it’s a painstaking process to come up with a good title, especially one that is catchy, humorous or intriguing and has not been used by many other authors before.
Find yourself writing the word “said” all the time? Is this a problem? Is “said” really dead?
As I noted in my previous post—which laid out five arguments for why you should outline your novel, short story or non-fiction project—I’m a big fan of outlining for the same reason I enjoy planning anything in life. I like to have a clear sense of where I’m going before I embark on the journey. […]
How do you find the right balance of prose and dialogue in your novel? How much of either is “too much”? Writing is a balancing act. So much in life goes unsaid, and so much of what’s unsaid is important. Like most feats of balance, it helps to know what happens when we go to […]
Indexing is not for the faint of heart. It requires superb mental organizational skills, and an ability to discern the big picture while sorting out the minutiae. Without proper organization, you might go mad. Especially with academic books, organizing topics can be a...
After years of editing, teaching writing, working with writers, and learning about the industry as a writer/illustrator, I have a created a list of things I believe new children’s book writers need to know. I also asked some published author and illustrator friends to tell me what they wish they’d known when they began. Following […]
Many of you who are in search of representation have probably read that agents are looking for writing that shows “a strong original voice.” The question is: What do they mean? What exactly is a strong original voice?
Successfully weave a character’s back story through my novel? I don’t want to include too much of their history too soon and kill the story’s momentum. A well-rounded character, just like any real person, will grow in complexity over time. Within the finite structure of a fictional story, it’s a writer’s job to guide the […]