Friday, July 29, 2011


I have an author in mind for my Hearing Voices series here at the Blood-Red Pencil, and when I approached her about an interview and to get a copy of her newest book, she asked me if I could use NetGalley for the review copy.


I hadn't heard of it, but the explanation sounded good to me.

NetGalley delivers secure, digital galleys to professional readers. If you are a reviewer, blogger, journalist, librarian, bookseller, educator, or in the media, you can use NetGalley for FREE to read and request titles before they are published.

So I went to the NetGalley website, signed up, and requested her manuscript from the publisher. In short order, I received a notice in my email that the manuscript was ready for download. I followed the directions, and soon had a pdf to read on my computer! It was that simple

Of course I signed up to receive NetGalley e-letters and notifications of new publishers and the titles they are offering in digital format. I was also pleased to learn they offer downloads for various e-readers and have a section on their webpage to explore this option.

After receiving their last e-letter, I was even more impressed. Not only did I learn of new publishers and titles they've added, but I discovered a featured artist, and could easily connect with them because all the links, including to Twitter and Facebook, were provided. No searching necessary. I can't begin to express how much I appreciate this simple added convenience.

Next month, I'll tell you more about NetGalley via an interview with Lindsey Rudnickas. If you have specific questions about how it all works, leave them here. For now, please poke around this out-of-the-ordinary site, and be sure to connect with NetGalley through Twitter and Facebook.

Does your publisher utilize the NetGalley services? As a reviewer, have you received a manuscript from them? Please share your comments!
Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil, spends her time writing, reviewing, editing, and promoting books and authors. She is special projects coordinator for Little Pickle Press, and teaches blog book tours classes on occasion. The next and last for the year starts on September 5. Please sign up at the classroom site and be prepared to work hard for a month learning how to plan your own tour. It will only cost you time and effort.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Out-of-the-Ordinary Contest

May Sarton with painting and live photo
Our theme this month is "out-of-the-ordinary" and I have a list as long as my arm of people and organizations in the publishing world that fit the theme. Today I'll share the new May Sarton Memoir Award, a project of the Story Circle Network, a memoir-writing group for women.

We've talked about SCN before, and founder, Susan Wittig Albert, is an occasional guest at the Blood-Red Pencil. The award is her brain child, and is yet another tool the organization uses to foster "lifewriting" for women. We all have stories to tell, and there are many reasons to tell them. The Sarton award is meant for women who have taken their stories to the ultimate goal - publication.

I don't think we've discussed writing awards here, but they are an important part of the publishing world and book promotion. The process of choosing award winners is also an important, sometimes complicated, and often time-consuming process. Ask any writer or editor who has ever served on a jury.

I asked if I could share the judging criteria for the May Sarton Award because the scoring system is so enlightening and useful. It's one of the best I've seen. This guideline is specific to memoirs, but can easily be modified for any genre of writing, and indeed, offers a marvelous scoring system for an author to apply to a piece of personal writing.

It goes without saying the writing must first meet all entrance requirements, and must be free of noticeable and distracting grammatical errors. Then the judging occurs with the following rubric:


0-3 Points

Characters not well developed, without complexity, stereotyped
Characters' actions not well motivated, not very believable
Characters' speech and/or dialogue stilted, awkward, not very interesting

4-7 Points

Characters fairly well developed; fair complexity, minimal stereotyping
Characters' actions fairly well motivated, generally believable
Characters' speech and/or dialogue fairly natural, interesting

8-10 Points

Characters richly developed; striking complexity; no stereotyping
Characters' actions well motivated and believable
Characters' speech and/or dialogue natural, engaging


0-3 Points

Beginning slow, doesn't pull the reader in; unsatisfactory conclusion
Storyline poorly developed or confusing (unmotivated jumps in time, unclear sequence of events)
Story unfolds slowly, inadequately, or with too many distracting side-stories, making it difficult for the reader to stay engaged

4-7 Points

Beginning adequate; conclusion fairly satisfying
Storyline fairly easy to follow, even if complex (flashbacks, etc)
Story is developed in a way that moderately engages and holds the reader's attention most of the way through the book

8-10 Points

Beginning engages the reader; conclusion very satisfying
Storyline clear, even if complex or otherwise challenging
Story is developed in a clear, compelling way that fully engages the reader's attention from beginning to end ("I couldn't put it down!")

Settings, Sense of Place

0-3 Points

Settings are uninteresting
Settings described inaccurately, insufficiently, or in clichés
Story establishes little sense of place

4-7 Points

Settings are fairly interesting
Settings described with some clichés, with fair accuracy
Story establishes an adequate sense of place

8-10 Points

Settings fully and vividly described, accurately and without clichés
Story establishes a strong, compelling sense of place

Please click here for the rest of the scoring list. There's lots more!

You get the idea of how this award judging works, don't you? It's a very fair, insightful, and accurate way to judge a good book. Thanks to SCN for letting us share this information, and by all means, if you have a memoir that fits the criteria, put it into the running for the award. Click here for submission information. Everyone else can adapt the rubric to judge writing of their own.

How many of you have submitted work and won awards for your writing? Have you ever been on a jury judging other writing? What did you like or dislike about the experience(s)? Please leave us a comment!
Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil, a free-lance writer and editor, special projects coordinator for Little Pickle Press (a small publisher who has won lots of awards for their children's literature!), and teaches authors how to plan and execute their own blog book tours. Her last class of the year is coming up in September and is free to published authors who haven't taken the course yet. Click here to sign-up.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

From Out of the Ordinary to Extraordinary

From Jules Verne to Gene Roddenberry, from J.R.R. Tolkien to J.K. Rowling, readers have been enticed, engaged, and enthralled by science fiction and fantasy. The imaginary worlds, incredible beings, and exotic plots that fill these popular genres transport the reader from his everyday experience to a place where he can consider familiar ideas anew. Ironically, yesterday’s fiction has on occasion become today’s reality. And to its credit, some recent fantasy has made readers out of youngsters who previously had not opened the cover of any book they were not forced to read. Why? Harry Potter, et al., were definitely out of the ordinary.

What if you aren't a fantasy or science fiction writer, and you choose to set your story in the real world? Does this mean you are out of the game when it comes to "out of the ordinary"? Absolutely not!

For this discussion, I'd like to focus on self-published and independently published books. Reason: Among the hundreds of thousands of such books that are published annually, great books are the exception rather than the rule. When a great one does come along, it is indeed out of the ordinary. Why aren't more of our books as good? Review Kathryn Craft’s recent post entitled “That Book Was Edited?” You may be amazed at the reason(s).

We writers know that editing improves our manuscripts. We self-edit, self-edit, self-edit. We join critique groups where we interact with strong writers and powerful critiquers. And we may hope this is enough, because editors are expensive. True, and to be sure, self-edits and critique groups can contribute significantly to the quality of our work. But they do not replace a professional editor.

First, no writer can stand back and objectively judge his/her work. Not one of us has that ability because we are too close to our story. We know all the details that never made it onto the page. We know every little intricacy of each scene, all the background information that supports our position, the real purpose of our book. And while our critiquers may recognize the holes in our work, they may not know how to fix them.

Second, rarely should a critiquer venture into the world of grammar and punctuation, unless it is so blatantly bad that it would make a fourth grader cringe. That’s not the purpose of critiquing. It is, however, the job of a competent copy editor.

Third, we have an unwritten obligation to our fellow writers who choose independent or self-publishing. Writing is primarily a solitary profession. That doesn’t make it a selfish one. When we publish a book that has not been edited by a competent professional, we contribute to the shoddy reputation that hangs like a black cloud over self-publishing, and we reinforce the stigma that still accompanies the name “vanity press.”

The ranks of the self-published, unimpressive a few years ago, have burgeoned into a huge crowd. And with numbers comes power. We have the power to change the reputation of self-publishing. We have the power to become writers of note. We have the power to make our work out of the ordinary—then to take it from out of the ordinary to extraordinary.

How do you make your story out of the ordinary even if it isn't fantasy or science fiction?

Linda Lane, editor of 4 award-winning books, works with writers and editors to bring credibility to independent and self-publishing. Her online workshops will be available mid-fall to offer serious writers and editors the opportunity to hone their skills and bring their work up to a standard that establishes independent and self-publishing as an honorable and professional industry.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Mis-pronouncables

I recently read through a thread in the “Word Nerds” group on LinkedIn and wanted to share some of these funny stories. It started with one commenter saying that every time she sees the word “misled,” her eyes single out the “isle” first, causing her to pronounce the word as “mild.” Others chimed in with “mizzled” or “missiled.”

Another wrote that when she delivered a high school speech for class, she pronounced indict as in-dickt instead of in-dite. My husband had the same problem with “elicit” (E-lissit), pronouncing it e-lickt.

The word I remember puzzling over when I was a new reader was “doughnut.” I had apparently just learned that words like “enough” were pronounced with the “f” sound. So, I went to my dad and asked, “What is a duff-nut?”

Someone else remembered a "sermon my pastor gave in the young life of our startup church. He went on and on about the facade we put on for others. Only he used a hard "c" every time. FACK-aid.” Apparently, 20 years later, he still hasn’t lived that one down.

Others mentioned mistaking “ch” as a “k” sound, as in lecher, or the soft “c” (s-sound) as a hard “k” sound.

One posted about a Chinese priest who would tell the story of a saint living in the time of "The Plagoo." The writer added, “At my age, every anecdote reminds me of another anecdote. I guess I'm in my anecdotage.” And as for those who think words and grammar are boring or unimportant, well, a plagoo upon both their domikiles.

Do you have any favorites you’d like to share?


A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Birth of a Fantasy Novel – Part 2

Yesterday, we posted the first part of an interview with fantasy writer S. K. Randolph, author of The Dimensioner's Revenge. Today, as Paul Harvey would have said, we have the rest of the story.

5. What is your goal with this book?

Borderline dyslexia created some early stumbling blocks for me as a reader. When these challenges were overcome in fifth grade, the miracle of reading opened up a whole new world. Books provided an escape, a place to learn new things, and an avenue for exploring life in wonderful ways. My goal is to entice young people to read, to keep reading, and to get out from in front of the computer.

With that vision in mind, I wrote The DiMensioner’s Revenge, the story of four young people and the impact life has on them—the lessons they learn and what they discover about themselves during a birthday adventure gone awry. As a former educator, I could not help providing life lessons, but my hope is that they are a natural part of the growth of the characters rather than a soap box.

6. The title says “Book One." Does this mean a series?

The unfolding trilogy will consist of three books, of which The DiMensioner’s Revenge is number one. Whether or not I write spin-offs beyond that number remains to be seen.

7. Why did you choose to work with an editor?

When I began this project, I did so simply to start and finish a novel. (I had begun two others that remain uncompleted.) The idea of publishing came later when friends and family who had encouraged me read the manuscript and began prodding me to publish. As the idea took hold, I realized I needed someone to help me unravel, shorten, and refine my “baby.” Now, I cannot imagine ever publishing without combining forces with someone more knowledgeable than I am about punctuation, point of view, show and tell, and all the things that make a book a worthwhile and interesting read. “Two heads are better than one” seems particularly apt in this circumstance.

8. What words of wisdom do you have for budding writers in this genre?

Fantasy fiction provides one the opportunity to create new worlds, places, things, and creatures that are purely figments of imagination. This genre allows the writer to delve deeper into his/her own inner reality/creativity and bring forth the unusual, that which is far out of the ordinary.

My advice to up-and-coming writers:
• Read other writers in the genre, learn the pitfalls, develop a sense of what works and what doesn’t and what you like and dislike.
• Join a writing group where you can give and receive constructive criticism.
• Find yourself a good editor, and don’t be afraid to edit and edit and edit (just because you wrote it doesn’t mean it can’t be improved).
• Write every day, no matter what.
• Write because you are passionate about it.
• And have fun!

To learn more about S.K. Randolph and The DiMensioner's Revenge, visit her at

Linda Lane edited S.K. Randolph's novel during the entire span of its development. She coaches writers through edits of their books and currently is developing e-courses on effective writing and editing. By fall her workshops will be available online for all who want to raise the bar on the quality of self- and independently published books. Learn more about her work at

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Birth of a Fantasy Novel – Part 1

For almost eight years, S.K. Randolph worked on her debut fantasy novel, The DiMensioner’s Revenge. This month (July 2011), it went to press. Her dream became a reality. A few days ago, I asked her about the long process that culminated in the publication of her book, which will be available after August 1. Her candid responses may be both helpful and encouraging to many writers who visit Blood Red Pencil.

1. When did the idea for The DiMensioner’s Revenge come to you, and when did you begin writing?

Since I read my first science fiction/fantasy novel, I have wanted to create my own world, my own universe, my own creatures and characters. A trip to New York City eight years ago left me thinking about kids playing in the streets and in concrete school yards. What if—somewhere in the depths of a city—a magic portal would transport children to a place where they could explore and play, a place with forests and mountains, a barn filled with animals, and a garden. As I began exploring this idea in what I originally thought would be a short story, I found myself immersed in the City of Idronatti on the planet of Thera and in a land called Myrrh. For the next six summers, I lived and wrote aboard a thirty foot sailboat in the wilds of Southeast Alaska, where what had begun as short story became the novel I had always wanted to write.

2. How did you develop your characters?

The characters developed as I wrote. I began with an old woman, fashioned after my grandmother, who was the guardian of the secret land. My four main characters introduced themselves to me on the page. Who they were and who they were becoming provided impetus for the story. The bad guy and his reasons for revenge also emerged as I wrote. Each added character came into being as a result of need—a mother for the twins, an aunt for a young boy with no parents, a henchman/errand boy for the DiMensioner, Pentharian mercenaries, and so forth. Once they appeared, I created their history. In effect, they each brought their own story to the table.

3. How did Myrrh and Thera come into being? Did you use known science as a basis for any of the "facts" of the story?

I created the concept of Myrrh as the only remaining piece of Earth that had become caught in the gravitational pull of another planet, Thera; then I headed for the Internet to investigate the scientific probability of something of this type occurring. The potential for a planet to be blown apart and to have pieces flung through space and into the gravitational pull of another heavenly body does exist. I am a quantum mechanics/chaos theory buff, so transport via worm holes and portals and parallel universes/different dimensions seemed natural. Thus was born the ability for my characters to jump from dimension to dimension and planet to planet.

4. Who is your intended audience?

When the book began, I thought it might be for younger children. As result of rewriting and editing, the book has grown up and so have the characters. Middle School/Young Adult now seems to be right. The book might appear “younger” in the beginning. As the plot thickens, however, the story and the characters become more complex.

Editor's note: The author states that her characters appeared as the story progressed, and she did their histories and sketches at that point. While this is out of the ordinary according to conventional thinking about creating detailed character sketches upfront, it worked well in this case and highlights the fact that there can be more than one right way to do something.

Tomorrow, read the second half of this fascinating interview for more thoughts and tips on fantasy writing.

Linda Lane edited S.K. Randolph's novel during the entire span of its development. She coaches writers through edits of their books and currently is developing e-courses on effective writing and editing. By fall her workshops will be available online for all who want to raise the bar on the quality of self- and independently published books. Learn more about her work at

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Editors have questions, too

Some time ago in a discussion in our office - the list where we BRP contributors take care of the business of keeping the blog running smoothly and providing the best tips and advice we can share - one of our editors asked, "How many of you build your Word dictionary to include oft-used words? How many of you use Spell Check on manuscripts? How many of you run through common passive words before you read the manuscript?"

Some of the answers reflect how we approach this as editors, as well as when we are writing something original.

MARYANN: I add words to my dictionary all the time, especially character names so I make sure they are spelled the same way throughout the manuscript. In my own work I have a tendency to spell last names differently. My editor caught that in my last book, thank goodness, so now I make sure I have the name in the dictionary.

DANI: I have Spell Check turned on and I notice that many manuscripts come to me with misspelled words. Apparently, the writer didn't use Spell Check. This one little step is so easy, why skip it? Another simple step is to use Find/Replace to search for passive verbs and overused words. I search for "and" because this picks up all the sentences starting with the word. Almost no sentence should start with "and." Combine it with the previous sentence or drop the "and" for stronger writing.

ELSA: I work with the Spell Check turned on but the Grammar Check turned off. I add all my character names to the dictionary, as well as many words that I know are correct but which come up with the red squiggly line. If it's a word I don't think I'll use very frequently, though, I don't bother to add it to the dictionary and just ignore the red line. I correct spelling errors that Word catches as I make them; I can't turn off my internal editor and ignore typos even in the first draft, as some writers prefer to do to maintain their flow.

I have to admit I don't tend to use many of the ways of checking for issues like passivity or excessive adverb/adjective use, although I really should. I leave this task for absolute last because I don't want to have to re-do this if I end up doing major re-writes.

MARYANN: I've learned, through my own work and by editing for clients, not to rely solely on on Spell Check to catch all the typos, etc. I just read a published book that had some mistakes that weren't caught by Spell Check because they were properly spelled words, just the wrong words. To answer the last question, I don't worry about those passive words until after I have read the client's entire manuscript. I deal with those in the editing process for them and for myself.

KATHRYN: I've only used Word's dictionary to auto-fill character names. I'm not a great typist (I know, appalling!) and so my character "Kandelbaum" was represented as "Kandelabum" an awful lot. In a previous novel my fingers stumbled on the name "Autumn" a lot. Even back when I was a journalist, there were only so many times I felt like typing the name "Buraczeski," lol.

I work on a Mac, and more than once Word has crashed the document while spell-checking an entire novel, so I've stopped doing it. I look for underlined words instead.

I use Grammar Check only if something is underlined, and adopt the suggestions about half of the time.

Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest book is Open Season, which has gotten nice reviews from Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly. One Small Victory, is a top seller in the mystery bestseller list at the Amazon Kindle store. Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. She will stop playing with her horse and work, honest.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reflecting on Grammar (and other stuff)

Once again please welcome Terry Odell for another guest post.

Since I'm back at intensive writing, and doing critiques for my writers group, I find my reading for pleasure moves deeper into edit mode as well.

Most of these things have no effect on plot or storytelling, but they're things that slow my read. I wonder if anyone else notices or even cares.

I don't begin to consider myself a grammar guru, although I had a lot of basics pounded into my head by Miss Cook in junior high, and Mr. Holtby in high school. Lately, I've noticed that some of these lessons don't seem to matter anymore. Or else copy editors had different teachers. Our language is fluid, and constantly changing (my agent said the comma before "too" is no longer required and made me remove all of them which still waves red flags for me), so I wonder if there are other memos I've missed. Of course, even if you get the memos, they're not written in stone, as my editor went and put back all those commas I'd deleted.

One rule I learned is that two things can be compared, but in order to use the superlative it was absolutely required that there be three. When one of my writing partners critiqued a recent submission, she flagged the chair "nearer" the wall and said it should be nearest. I said there were only two chairs, so "nearer" should be correct. She said she'd never heard of that rule.

When I was in school, this is what we learned, and the way I still remember it:

Good, Better, Best. You can't have the best of two, or there will be red marks on your paper. So when I noticed a character talking about his youngest child, I assumed there would be at least three kids, and I kept waiting for a middle sibling to appear. But no, there were only two, and one was the youngest and one was the oldest.

And people are who, things are that. So when I see "The man that was arrested" or, "the dog who ran away," my teeth clench.

Granted, these things don't affect the plot. But to me, I'm seeing those big red marks on the page and am pulled out of the story.

On a non-grammar note, research is another pet peeve. I don't know a lot, so when I see something I do know, I wonder why an author didn't take the time to make sure the detail is correct, or the copy editor let it slide. Number one biggie, because of my preferred genre, is characters who carry Glocks, yet click the safety off or on. Glocks just plain don't work that way. And revolvers don't have safeties either.

Do you have any pet peeves, or am I the only one who even notices these things? Do you read differently as a writer? Can you turn off that internal editor? As a reader, do grammar and research issues throw speed bumps in your reading?

Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She’s the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists. To see all her books, visit her Web site. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.

Posted by Maryann Miller who also has a hard time turning off the editor side of her brain to simply enjoy a book.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Critique Speak

Many of the manuscripts I edit would have benefitted from review by a critique group. Maybe you don’t trust your peers—after all, the individuals who make up such a group may have no more experience than you do. But as practiced readers, each can contribute something of use, and as I wrote in my Friday post, the better the shape your manuscript is in, the more an editor can help you achieve your vision.

But first you have to learn critique speak, a nondescript mode of communication in which what people say is not always what they really mean.

Example One
Critiquers told one of my clients, “You need to start with an establishing shot.” Establishing shots are used in the movies all the time: the camera pans mementos in a room, the streets of a town, or, from a helicopter shot, a protagonist lost deep in thought on a cross-country bus ride. Anyone who’s hung around modern writing instructors knows that such openings are passé. So why would her critique partners tell her such a thing, and what does she do with this information?

What the critiquer really was saying: “I feel lost in this story.”

What that meant was: “I need greater orientation to this story through additional characterization and setting detail.”

Must the author address this problem through the use of an establishing shot? Absolutely not. But if she knew how to listen for the underlying meaning, it was great feedback.

Example Two
I once shared a memoir essay in which I was trying to weave together several story threads to reinforce one complex concept. One critiquer told me, “You can’t do that. Take the part about your best friend out. It’s too much for one piece.” I knew she was wrong. It might not be her bag, but this sort of thing is done all the time in short pieces with the kind of depth I enjoy reading. And the addition of my friend spread the significance of the story event across additional shoulders.

What the critiquer was really saying: “I’m trying to help, but this isn’t my genre. It feels like too much.”

What that meant was: To win over this kind of reader, I’d have to streamline the piece so she didn’t have to work as hard to draw the connections between the story threads.

Example Three
I read the first chapter of my memoir to a group of women at one of my writing retreats. The women said they loved the action in the piece, about a woman who insists on divorcing her husband after his suicide. But they didn’t need all that “stuff about the farm.” Problem was, the piece, "Standoff at Ronnie’s Place," was absolutely about the farm. My entire intent was to write a piece in which the setting carried the bulk of the emotional weight of the piece.

What the critiquers were really saying: “The setting description is getting in the way of your action.”

What that meant was: I had not yet achieved my goal of using the setting to support the action. I went back to the drawing board, and the piece got published.

Why don’t critiquers just say what they mean, like editors do? Unlike editing, critiquing is a social activity, and no one wants to admit any sort of personal weakness in front of a peer. Instead of admitting she didn't get what you were trying to do, she’ll either critique your grammar or suggest a fix born of what might be her limited experience.

But if you learn to speak the underlying language, and work to improve the piece based on that, you’ll get more bang for your buck when you hand your piece over to your editor.


Kathryn Craft is a developmental editor at, an independent manuscript evaluation and line editing service. Formerly a dance critic and arts journalist, she now writes women's fiction and memoir. The first chapter of her memoir, Standoff at Ronnie's Place, modified as a stand-alone essay, has been published online by Mason's Road, the online journal of Fairfield University's MFA program. She blogs about Healing through Writing.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

That book was edited?

“That book was awful. Where was the editor in the process?”

Have you ever wondered that? Almostvoid has, according to a comment he left at our last Ask the Editor Free-for-all.

Editing is a collaborative business. For any book, the editor is only a part of the process. And especially in this world of independently published books, the editing can be buried deep. So deep that there have been times, when an author has thanked me in the acknowledgments, I've wondered what they were thanking me for.

I won’t pretend that the days of Maxwell Perkins will return, where an editor will see potential in a rough book from a guy like F. Scott Fitzgerald and then carefully hone and develop it.

Here is my ideal of how the editing process can look:
1) self-editing through numerous drafts
2) developmental editing, round 1
3) developmental editing, round 2
4) line edit
5) proofread

And this is the process before you submit to agents and editors. Unfortunately, today, steps 2 through 5 will cost money from your pocket. That's tough, considering it's an uncertain investment, especially for a first-time author. Will you ever make that money back? Writing has never been a more entrepreneurial venture.

Even if all these steps are taken, an "awful" book can result. Welcome to the subjective world of publishing, where one man's trash is another man's treasure.

Beyond subjectivity, here are some of the limitations of the editing process that might result in your negative opinion of a book:

1) You don't know how many of the suggested edits the author was willing to make. Many authors really don't want an edit. They want someone to tell them how brilliant they are. They brush off suggested changes while brandishing their creative license. I suggest that if you disagree with an edit, at least discuss it with the editor to uncover her reasoning. You might be surprised by what you hear.

2) Editors are not ghostwriters, and since most of us believe there is something sacred at the heart of each creative act, we will never tell someone their concept is crap. We are trying to help the author bring his project to its fullest fruition by capitalizing on its strengths. But reality is, not all ideas are created equal.

3) You don’t know the publisher’s agenda. Whether traditional, indie, or self, the publisher may have a reason for pushing a book through without extraordinary care to its perfection. Such reasons could be related to production schedules, media or event tie-ins, or political agendas. Did you know that the publisher even deems a certain number of proofing mistakes acceptable?

4) You don't know if the above editing process was ever completed. In an ideal world, after any round of substantive changes, the author would submit the manuscript for editing again, since "fixing things" on one's own—especially while still on the learning curve in your first few novels—creates the potential for a whole new slew of problems to arise. A third or fourth developmental round may have been called for, but financial constraints may have cut short the process.

5) You don't know how bad off that manuscript was when it was submitted to the editor. In the manuscripts of first-time authors, other writing problems can lurk beneath more apparent developmental issues. The resulting book may be as vastly improved as any one editing pass could make it. And when a more experienced author has worked with a trusted editor for a long time, it is tempting to submit a draft instead of a finished piece, expecting that the editor will do her usual presto-change-o. If your creative intention matters to you, maybe you best not count on that.

6) We hate to admit this, but not all editors are created equal, either.

What can you learn from this?

Since editing is collaborative, there is only so much you can do on your own—but the more you do, the better. When you hire a developmental editor, hand her the very best version of the work you can muster from critiquing by writing colleagues and diligent self-editing.

Try to open yourself to her perspective—as a fresh reader, she may be more right than you think. If she doesn’t “get” it, it just might be that you have some more work to do.

What else limits the editing process? Let’s hear your thoughts.

Kathryn Craft is a developmental editor at, an independent manuscript evaluation and line editing service. Formerly a dance critic and arts journalist, she now writes women's fiction and memoir. The first chapter of her memoir, Standoff at Ronnie's Place, modified as a stand-alone essay, has been published online by Mason's Road, the online journal of Fairfield University's MFA program. She blogs about Healing through Writing.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

10 Reasons Writers Might Drink

There's that stereotype out there that we writers are a hard-drinkin' lot. This may not be completely true, but here are 10 occurrences that might tempt you to slurp from the nearest bottle.

10. You've written the same scene not twice but four times.

9. You've written three afternoons in the same day.

8. Your vegetarian character is tucking hungrily into a steak dinner.

7. You have six characters' names all starting with the same letter.

6. You're sure you've finished polishing your manuscript. Sure. Positively, absolutely sure. Then you see the phrase "this writing sucks, this writing sucks" mid-way down page 53.

5. No one told you writing takes time and discipline. It's like...a job.

4. Your happily-married pair of characters spend the entire book fighting.

3. You spent 2 hours at your laptop. You wrote 1 sentence worth keeping.

2. You're stare resentfully at the thick volumes lining your bookshelves as "How did they manage to do it?" blares in your head.


1. Writing is like a marriage. There will be days (or weeks) when divorce seems like your best option. Power through. Or...have a drink.

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Elspeth Antonelli is an author and playwright. Her twelve murder mystery games and two plays are available through She has also contributed articles to the European writers' magazine "Elias". Her blog, "It's A Mystery," explores the writing process with a touch of humor. She is on Twitter as @elspethwrites.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Idea Store

“Where do you get your ideas?” All writers recognize that question. I always want to answer, “At the Idea Store.” This sounds snarky, but there actually is such a thing. It’s called Conversation.

It’s dangerous to talk to a writer. All my friends and family now know this. You never can tell when something you say off-the-cuff, some insignificant little remark, might set off a creative spark in the writer’s mind, and woof! Off they go into Creator-Land, and you’ll find your throwaway sentence suddenly transformed into something wild and wooly and utterly different than you intended.

Writers must be on guard for those glittery images that zip past you and run off down the road, never to return, if you’re not listening. Some of your best writing topics might be lurking in the meandering blabber of your neighbor, your Aunt Matilda, or the snarky office gossip-monger.

My favorite example of this phenomenon is a short story I wrote over 20 years ago. It’s called "Miss Maud and the Three Bears" and is the tale of an irascible old lady who hated people but loved bears, so much that she lived a secret life as a bear. (There’s a lot more to the story, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, in case you want to read it.)

I’m not that interested in bears, or in crabby old ladies either. I certainly never thought about writing a story about them. But one day I went on a first date with a rather tedious young man whose favorite subject was himself. In the midst of his ramblings, most of which I was not listening to, he mentioned that on a fishing trip he had seen two bears swimming, or rather being swept along by the current, in the rapids of the Skykomish River, high in the Cascade Mountains. One of the bears was holding a wiggling salmon in its paws as it rode the water downstream. As it passed him standing on the bank, the salmon made a last frantic leap for freedom but was caught by the bear’s enormous claw.

There was something about the image of those bears that captured me. I couldn’t get it out of my head. For weeks I dreamed about bears swimming in mountain rivers, salmon thrashing between their paws. Finally, with just that one image to guide me, I wrote my short story, which, although there is a scene with bears swimming in the river, is not actually about that at all. Go figure. After I wrote the story, the dreams stopped, and there was no second date with the boring guy, so he never knew how he had inspired me. But to this day, "Miss Maud and the Three Bears" is one of my favorite stories, and when I read it, I see those swimming bears, river water sparkling on their fur as they are swept by me.

Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 6 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 30 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's Leave A Tip on the Blood-Red Pencil Day!

It's Leave a Tip Day again at the Blood-Red Pencil. Today, as every second Tuesday of the month, we invite you to be a good neighbor and share a writing tip.

We're all at different levels - beginner, intermediate, advanced. No matter where you are in the writing spectrum, you're welcome to contribute. Pick a tip that helped you, no matter how obvious or how convoluted it may seem.

Your tips can pertain to writing, publishing, or editing, and can be about any format or venue, traditional, indie, self-publishing. To share, you need only leave the tip in the comment section. You may also leave one website or blogspot URL, in case a reader would like to know more about you. When you comment, if you wish, you may tell us where you've heard about this blog.

My tip for today is: If you want others to read your book when it's done, somewhere along the line you'll have to figure out your target audience. For more on this topic, you may wish to see

What's your tip? Tell us below.

Morgan Mandel writes mysteries,
romances, and thrillers. She's a
past president of Chicago-North
RWA, was the Library Liaison
for Midwest MWA, and is an
active blogger and networker.
Her personal blog is at:
and website is
See her new senior blog at
Her romantic suspense,
Killer Career, is 99 cents on Kindle and Smashwords. Her paranormal thriller, Forever Young - Blessing or Curse is targeted for release first this summer on Kindle and at Smashwords.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Knowing Your Editor's Editing Philosophy

Less than two weeks ago, Dani Greer published a short post titled "Who Is Your Editor?" The question, for me, begged another: why is your editor "your editor"?

And that question made me think about why I edit. Here's the fairly short answer. I edit because I'm a teacher and I love to impart knowledge. For me, editing is not about receiving a manuscript with errors and returning that manuscript error-free, pristine, and perfect, like the manuscript is on an assembly line and I'm merely perfecting it before it's boxed and shipped to a consumer. When I edit, my goal is to teach something, to explain to a client why I made the changes I did or why I suggest s/he rewrite heavily then resubmit for editing. My goal is to edit and to explain how/why I edit the way I do. The result of this, and this has 100% always been the case with repeat clients, is the second book is so much stronger than the first book was when it was submitted for editing. This happens because the writer learned, received one or more teachable moments in that first edit and applied those moments in every other work thereafter. Seeing that transformation makes me giddy and feel like a fairy storymother each and every time.

Now why, on a blog in which we (the editors) discuss the writing craft, am I grabbing the mic to talk about why I edit?

Let me return to the question why is your editor "your editor"?

Writers that have built a relationship with their editor can spin off a reason for picking and sticking with that editor--they have learned the editor's editing philosophy and after working with the editor realize that their goals and desires as writer and editor blend well.

Every writer that is looking to find an editor and hopes to build a long-lasting relationship with that editor should want to know why the editor edits. You deserve to know an editor's philosophy to make sure it gels with who you are as a writer--and more importantly, what you need as a writer in order to get your stories in great shape.

The flip side of this, of course, is as writer you need to take some time to figure out what you need in an editor and what type of personalities will blend well with you. Not knowing what you need will make it difficult to find someone that not only provides you with a clean copy but also leaves you with a few lessons to carry over into future works.

Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically; her debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell is available for purchase. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, promoting her debut project, writing screenplays, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Cues from the Coach: Economy of Words

Example One
Maria stepped off the bus and looked around. The employment agency should have been right there, but she didn’t see it. Turning one way and then the other, she stared up and down the street, her gaze pausing at a pet shop window near the bus stop. A puppy watched her through the glass, its tail wagging its smile. Forcing her mind back to her dilemma, she rummaged vainly through her purse for the piece of paper she had written the address on. Shaking her head, she tried to remember where it might be and then smacked her palm against her forehead; it must still be by the telephone. She looked at her watch. Her appointment was in less than five minutes, but she wouldn’t be there because she couldn’t even recall the name of the agency. With the back of her hand, she wiped away the tears in her eyes. Then she turned around and sank down on the bench at the bus stop. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore. She wouldn’t have gotten the job anyway. She never did.

Example Two
Maria stepped off the bus and looked around. What was the employment agency’s name and address? Rummaging through her purse for the piece of paper she’d written it on, she came up empty-handed. Then she remembered; it was lying on the table next to the telephone. Glancing at her watch, she sighed, swiped at her tears with the back of her hand, and sank onto the bench next to the bus stop. It doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t have gotten the job anyway.

The detailed first paragraph paints a busier word picture than the simple second one. But do those details move the story forward? Does not her internal dialogue at the paragraph’s end shout her despair?

We’ve had previous discussions about eliminating extra weight in your manuscript. One way to determine whether you need to put a scene on a word diet is by evaluating its purpose. Is it action, dialogue, tension-building, or high emotion? Cut it to the bone and make every word count. Are you viewing a sunset, sitting by a stream, or giving your readers other downtime to catch their breath between action scenes? Then be descriptive.

Readers are busy. When they sit down with a book, they want to be educated, informed, or entertained. Most don’t want to wade through a smorgasbord of appetizers to get to the main course. When you reduce the number of dishes offered, however, remember to keep the seasonings. A bland meal rivals that overabundant smorgasbord in its failure to satisfy the reader’s appetite for a great book.

As a reader, do you skip over wordy scenes or narratives? As a writer, how do you use words to keep the reader engaged? As an editor, how do you help writers employ economy of words to keep their story or content moving?

Linda Lane coaches writers through edits of their books and currently is developing e-courses on effective writing and editing. By fall her workshops will be available online for all who want to raise the bar on the quality of self- and independently published books. Learn more about her work at
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who Are You Hanging Out With?

Many writers I know, myself included, seem to gravitate towards other writers, particularly online. I belong to several writers’ forums, a challenge group, and a critique group, subscribe to writing newsletters, friend writers on Facebook, and write for writers here and on my own website. And the support and fellowship of other writers is important and valuable.

However, it can become a drawback if you’re hanging out with other writers to the exclusion of your potential readers.

Yes, writers do read, and they do buy books. And they might be easier to convince to order your book from an indie bookstore. But few writers have unlimited funds and if all writers on a forum are marketing their books to each other, only a few have a chance of being bought.

A few years ago I joined a parenting forum where the values and philosophy of the members matched my own. At the time I was just looking for advice and support through my pregnancy and early parenting journey, and then gradually I was able to pass on my own advice and support. I logged hundreds of hours on that forum, racked up a huge number of posts, and became a trusted member of the community. During an ongoing discussion about children’s books, I noticed that this was a group of parents who enjoyed reading what their pre-teens and teens were reading (think Harry Potter and Tiffany Aching). So I bought advertising and started marketing my own work to a group of interested parents of my target market. I’m now building my list so that when my middle grade fantasy novel comes out I will have an enthusiastic fan base (vetted by parents) ready to support me.

How about you? Can you join a group of your potential readers? Think beyond the obvious, like “Mystery Book Fans” and go looking for gun or knife collectors, horse owners, classic car enthusiasts, etc. Treat it as a research exercise: these people will have valuable information you can use in your books, and they might get excited about the prospect of a book that features their passion – especially if they know you’re going to get the details right when many other authors get it wrong.

Share your thoughts in the comments and we’ll help you brainstorm some ideas for joining your readers on their home turf.
Elsa NealElsa Neal is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. If your story requires research into elements such as firearms, the law, or disappearing in modern society, check out this research resource page and get your facts straight. Don't risk your writing career on a guess. Visit Elle's website.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Time out for a little fun

Maybe someone should invent an early detection system for gullible writers. Sirens and whistles would go off the next time we’re approached by a big talker who sweeps into our life with enough patter to sell vacuums to Kirby salespeople. You know the people I mean. The blowhards who convince us that we’re on our way to stardom and incredible riches because they recognized our talent and are ready to make great things happen. We see these people at conferences or any other place where writers gather. They’re surrounded by a crowd of rapt admirers who cling to every gilded word like barnacles on a boat.

I am not too proud to admit that I’ve been suckered in.

There’s the film director I met at a writer’s conference who was going to hand-carry my screenplay to the biggest producers in Hollywood. I should’ve realized that if he really had that kind of clout, he wouldn’t be in Houston, TX taking money from a bunch of starry-eyed scriptwriters. But he just smothered my ability to reason in an avalanche of words, “This is the greatest script I’ve ever read. You’re an f-ing genius. You’re gonna be rich...”

How could I not believe him? Except for the expletives, he was singing my song, ringing my bells, pushing my buttons. HE was the genius.

I called my husband in Dallas to share the good news and he threw together a celebration party. When I got home, I was greeted by friends with glasses of champagne and requests for tickets to the next year’s Oscars. I didn’t even need the champagne to be intoxicated. I really thought my barge had docked.

Within a month, the producer’s gusto dwindled to the merest draft, then was snuffed altogether. Based on his suggestions, I’d spent that time revising the script and called to tell him it was ready. After a frustrating hour of fighting my way through his voice-mail, I was finally able to leave a message. He called me back a week later to tell me he was sorry. He didn’t have time to be bothered. Perhaps I could send the script to some of the cable companies. They’re always hungry for product.

After that experience, you’d think I had enough sense to run like hell the next time someone like that approached me. But what can I say? I’m gullible. I’m still trying to get out of the tree I grew up in. And this guy actually worked at a big important production company in LA. I could trust him.

He was hot for the story idea I’d sent in, that eventually became the basis for my suspense novel, One Small Victory. Since it was based on a true story, he promised he’d contact the subject to acquire the rights. He also promised to bump my proposal to the executive in charge of production. And he thought I was a terrific writer. Why was I hiding out somewhere in the Midwest when I should be in Hollywood?

That was the last I heard from him.

So, okay. Is it just me? Am I the only one who attracts people like this? Please tell me I’m not. I need to see if there really is a market for this early-warning system. A guy just called from a manufacturing company...

Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest book is Open Season, which has gotten nice reviews from Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly. One Small Victory, is a top seller in the mystery bestseller list at the Amazon Kindle store. Visit her Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. She will stop playing with her horse and work, honest.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Enjoy Your Independence at Ask the Editor Free-For-All

Yesterday was Independence Day for the United States of America. In this exciting day and age, with so many choices of where and how to get published, everyday can be an independence day for authors no matter where you live.

Despite the vast opportunities now available, one criteria doesn't change. We still need to write the best book we can. That's not easy, especially if we get stuck on a point and don't know where to turn for advice.

That's where Ask the Editor Free-For-All comes in.

How Ask the Editor Free-For-All Works:

Today, as in every first Tuesday of the month, our editors are here to answer your questions and and help you achieve your potential of true independence.

I send e-mail blasts to e-groups, Facebook, other social networks, blogs, everywhere I know, inviting writers to ask questions. Our editors answer, dispensing valuable tips on writing basics, manuscript submission to publishers or agents, self-publishing, and more.

To Submit A Question, Follow These Easy Steps:

Leave a comment below. Include your name and blog URL or website, not only for promo, but also to let us know you're a person and not a robot. (One link only, please!) Double check to make sure your comment did get on before you leave, since sometimes Blogger tests people to make sure they're real. You might be required to repeat a step to make your comment stick.

Our editors will stop by off and on today to answer your questions in the comment section. If an answer can be expanded, one of our Editors might decide to do an entire blog post on that topic. In that case, you could get extra promotion, along with the possibility of sending us jpegs of your profile photo and cover art, along with a buy link.

It's not required, but helpful if you leave an e-mail address with your comment. If you want to, you can tell us where you've heard of the Ask The Editor Free-For-All so we know where are readers are coming from.

Others will ask questions, so you might want to check later to see what's happening. Some of our participants use e-group Digests, so their questions and answers might carry over through Wednesday or Thursday.

The comment section is now open for your questions. Let us help get your manuscript ready so you can enjoy your author independence!

Morgan Mandel
Morgan Mandel writes mysteries,romances, and thrillers. She's a past president of Chicago-North RWA, was the Library Liaison for Midwest MWA, and is an active blogger and social networker. Her personal blog is at:

Her romantic suspense, Killer Career, is on Kindle and Smashwords, for 99 cents. Her paranormal thriller, Forever Young - Blessing or Curse is targeted for release this summer first on Kindle and Smashwords.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Grammar ABCs: C is for Comma

The comma is the most common punctuation mark inside sentences. Although they seem to be thrown by the wayside more and more these days, a simple comma can change the meaning of a sentence entirely as in: The July 2nd Thursday meeting will be held… Is it on July 2 or the second Thursday?

Commas are used to separate complete sentences connected by a coordinating conjunction: and, but, for, because. The bat is a nocturnal animal, and it sleeps during the day. I thought I could stay up all night, but I fell asleep about 4 a.m. The comma should not follow the and or but (such as The bat is a nocturnal animal and, it sleeps during the day.) The only time I let that one slide is occasionally in dialogue if the speaker is pausing for effect: “He is a completely self-centered man, and, he is a jerk.” However, there are better ways to show this.

Use a comma to set off most introductory phrases. A simple definition of a Phrase: A word group that lacks either a subject or a predicate or both: Fearing an accident, she drove fifteen miles per hour. Or In a panic, he rummaged through the drawers.

Use with a prepositional phrase, one that starts with words that take objects, such as: about, above, at, before, below, or as we used to say, to remember: over, under, around and through. Also use a comma before which but not before that.

A subordinate clause is usually used as an introductory element of a sentence and modifies a word or words in the main clause. It is usually set off by a comma: Although Beth had graduated at the top of her class, she still felt like the class dummy when it came to romance.

Beginning writers often have trouble with this type of clause and we see sentences that read like this: Galloping into town, the storm cloud followed us, spilling huge drops of rain. In this sentence the storm cloud is galloping into town.

The Grammar Gurus say you may omit the comma after a short subordinate clause or prepositional phrase if it does not create confusion: When snow falls our town closes. But using a comma in this instance is not wrong. Personally, I’m more comfortable putting one in. In this example, When Bob pulls Bill pushes could be confusing and you might start to read it as When Bob pulls Bill

Commas are used to set off nonrestrictive elements: The main house, Devon's design, is at the top of the hill. You can decide whether to use commas in such cases by removing the phrase. If the sentence still makes sense and is complete, you separate the phrase with commas.

Use commas in a series. The family needs clothing, food, and shelter. In fiction, you use a comma before the and. In journalism, you do not.

And you always use a comma in dialogue when addressing someone: Joe, I want you to come to my party.

These are just some of the major instances you use commas. Are you confused yet?

Does anyone have different examples of when and when not to use commas?


A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Busted!—Leif Enger caught starting with protagonist's birth

In her recent post on Constructing Your First Chapter, Elsa Neal wrote, “The first chapter should begin just before a pivotal event in your protagonist’s life. This is something that forces a change or a decision.” Sound advice, to which Christopher Hudson sent a witty retort: "Now you tell me! Perhaps I shouldn't have started my last book with, 'When I was born ...'"

Today, I want to bust Leif Enger for doing just that, in one of my all-time favorite novel openings. His Peace Like a River begins:
From my first breath in this world, all I wanted was a good set of lungs and the air to fill them with—given circumstances, you might presume, for an American baby of the twentieth century.
With one sentence Enger plunges us into the story of his narrator, Reuben Land. The words “all I wanted” make character motivation clear from the start. In the second paragraph we learn that Reuben’s lungs refused to “kick in,” providing what Elsa would call a "pivotal event," since Reuben's lung problems will provide an ongoing stumbling block in the novel. While his difficult birth is underway, Reuben tells us his father was walking outside the hospital:
He was praying, rounding the block for the fifth time, when the air quickened. He opened his eyes and discovered he was running—sprinting across the grass toward the door.

Anyone notice a point of view problem here? We have a first person narrator telling us about his own birth! Enger solves the problem in the very next line:
“How’d you know?” I adored this story, made him tell it all the time.

Clever solution, isn’t it? Reuben can speak of his own birth in detail because of his father’s stories, told often enough that we can intuit their relationship. The next few lines set up the novel further:
“God told me you were in trouble.”
“Out loud? Did you hear Him?”
“Nope, not out loud. But he made me run, Reuben. I guess I figured it out on the way.”

A tension-filled scene in which the doctor is unable to revive Reuben follows. Dr. Nokes attempts to explain to Reuben’s father that sometimes organs just don’t work:
“In these cases,” said Dr. Nokes, “we must trust in the Almighty to do what is best.” At which Dad stepped across and smote Dr. Nokes with a right hand, so that the doctor went down and lay on his side with his pupils unfocused.

Surprising reaction! And I love the word choice: “smote.”

In the last line of this opening scene, Reuben’s father picks up his still, gray son—Enger likens him to a “clay baby”—and says, in a normal voice:
“Reuben Land, in the name of the living God I am telling you to breathe.”

With this opening Enger sketches out the triumvirate that will drive this book—Reuben, his father, and powerful faith—which first intertwine at Reuben’s birth. This is bridging conflict, since the plot will center on the Land’s search for Reuben’s brother Davy, who escapes from jail on the morning of his sentencing for murder. But the breathing complication, the determined father, and the power of faith will be present throughout, and take center stage at the book’s climax.

Chances are, Christopher, your book will not start at the birth of your protagonist, although depending on the type of book you're writing, you might end up referencing it somewhere, since the hero’s unusual birth is a common element in the archetypal hero’s journey. Thank you for inspiring this post.

Today I leave our BRP readers with this confounding advice: Fiction is a creative art, and you can do just about anything you want—even start with your character's birth—if you can do it well enough. We here at the BRP will continue to try to help you figure out how to do so.

Now tell us: what “rules” have you broken lately? (Ahem—stick to writing rules, please!)

Kathryn Craft specializes in developmental editing at, an independent manuscript evaluation and editing service. What she believes: 1. Editing forever changed the way she reads. 2. Well-crafted moments of brilliance help her forgive many other problems in a manuscript. 3. All writers have strengths and weaknesses—but why settle for weaknesses? 4. We can learn as much from what other authors do right as we can from what we do wrong. This is her series, "Busted!—An author caught doing something right."

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