Editing Reality Soapbox

This morning, I happened across an online group of writers who caught my attention with a particular conversation.


One person asked the group about an estimate from an editor.  He mentioned a dollar figure without details concerning the length of the book or the type of editing he sought.  Then he asked if that was a “fair price” to pay for editing.


One after another the others in the group chimed in to say it was much cheaper to do his own editing, or if he felt he must spend some money, they could give him contact info for someone who would edit his work for “much cheaper.”


I wanted to reach through my monitor and bang a couple of garbage pail lids together to get their attention.


It’s not what it costs for editing that matters as much as what your book and your reputation as a writer gains from professional help.


On top of that, the price quoted in the original question was nowhere near what I would expect to see (or would charge) for editing any book-length manuscript.  Meaning, it was low.  Not “Hoo-boy, I’ve got one of those writer suckers on my scam hotline, Martha” low, but definitely below the norm for a full-length manuscript.


I think there’s some perception within a portion of the writing population that believes if someone can read a book in a day or two, an editor should be able to do her job in that amount of time.  They fail to take into account all the details the professional editor evaluates, researches, and corrects.  Those writers have no concept of the amount of time required to look at every sentence and every word several times over.



Or maybe they don’t believe in paying to have something done thoroughly.  “Why don’t you just look for typos?  Even if they notice, I’m sure my readers will forgive any mistakes I make.  And then you can charge me less.”


Sick at heart, I clicked away from that conversation.  The writer who asked about the editor’s quote will probably follow his compatriots’ advice to self-edit, or he’ll look for someone who quotes the lowest cost.


Once his book comes out he’ll wonder why readers are upset with glaring errors.  He may never relate his lack of success as an author to his decision to forego one of the most important parts of the writing process.


And I’d be saying this, even if I weren’t an editor.  Because I’m an avid reader.  And it matters.  Climbing down now.



If you’d like to work with me in 2017, I’m currently setting my editing schedule for August through October.  Email me at Suzanne@TransformationalEditor.com and let’s start a conversation about how I may help you take your writing from idea to signing party.

12 Steps to Publication – Redux



I’m so excited to present my 12 Steps to Publication workshop series again! In 2014-2015 the Daviess County Public Library sponsored the course for the local writer community. We had tremendous fun working together and supporting each other. Since then, some of those writers have published their books.

This Introduction to the course is FREE and designed to give you a taste of what to expect in the twelve modules. We’ll finish up the series with a Wrap-up session to encourage ongoing mutual support for every writer’s work.

Join me on June 28, at The Yoga Loft, 1722 Sweeney St., from 6:00 pm to  to8:00 pm, and learn how to get started on the book inside you! Go here to tell me you’ll be attending the FREE introductory session.

I’m looking forward to helping more local writers create their dream books!


Writers Make a Fresh Start With Each New Page

One of the biggest excuses I hear from people who say they want to write is that they’re afraid their words aren’t unique enough, brilliant enough, or interesting enough for anyone to read.  Their fear of failure keeps them from getting started.  Then they spend their lives mourning the loss of a dream. 


Each new page is a fresh opportunity to get it right.  If your words don’t make your heart sing with joy, write better words on the next page.  You’ll end up throwing away most of those pages, but you’ll learn something with each one that rolls across your screen. 


Don’t let your fears keep you from becoming the writer you’re meant to be.  In this digital world, you’re not even wasting paper and ink when you write and rewrite a dozen times.  Be bold!  Throw those words against the white page and see what sticks.  The more you try, the more you’ll get right.


Next time, maybe you’ll select an even bigger canvas on which your imagination can spill your story.

Make Your Readers Feel the Pain

I’ve been neck deep in research and editing, enjoying every minute.  And letting the days slip past before I come out of my red-pencil fog to check my deadlines.


I planned to write about layering your characters’ backstories, referencing scenes from the movie “The Homesman.”  In the meantime, I read Sue Coletta’s post over on The Kill Zone blog about researching torture methods.  Coletta is the author of the Grafton County series (Cleaved, book 2 is now available), the Mayhem series, and the criminally inspiring 60 Ways to Murder Your Characters.  This is one author who believes that first-hand experience makes her crime thrillers darker and scarier.  And she doesn’t hesitate to enlist her husband or a neighbor to assist her in the search for realism.


Just reading about her experiment inside an oil drum was enough to make my breath hitch and my ears ring.


Now I’m not saying every writer should bribe someone to bury them in a box with a short hose leading to the surface.  And please don’t play with sharp blades.  You don’t want to end up describing your visit to the nearest emergency room instead of the fight scene you roleplayed.


But don’t allow anything to stop you from getting deep into your character’s emotions and physical responses.  Because in the middle of the action, that’s what happens.  The body responds to physical stimuli while the mind assigns feelings and emotions to those actions and reactions.


Don’t think of the character as a cardboard cutout you’re creating with ink and paper (or ones and zeroes).  Put yourself in the middle of that scene.  Become that character as each word finds its place on the page.


Your knife-wielding assailant isn’t thinking about what he’s going to defrost for supper once he takes you down and saunters home.  He’s thinking about getting in close, sliding his knife-hand under your deflecting arm, and driving his blade into a space between your ribs.


You don’t wish you had worn lower heels.  Your mind is desperately sorting hundreds of ways to survive.  You attempt to grasp one before they all disappear.  Kick your shoes off–turn sideways to offer a smaller target—move into the middle of the street for maneuverability—scream your lungs out to attract attention—run like hell!


Even as your brain processes these commands, your senses pick up the smell of the man’s sweat as he grabs you, the sound of your voice echoing off surrounding buildings, the hot bite of the blade as it slices across your raised hand.


Dive into the experience, and take your writing to another level by increasing the depth of each scene.  And like Sue Coletta’s readers, yours will sleep with the lights on.


Next time we’ll unwrap layers of personality in “The Homesman” characters.


If you’d like to work with me in 2017, I’m currently setting my editing schedule for June through September.  Email me at Suzanne@TransformationalEditor.com and let’s start a conversation about how I may help you take your writing from idea to signing party.

What Language Do Your Characters Use?

What’s the missing ingredient to the story in which every character sounds like the next? It’s the individual’s language of life and personality.


There is a magic in interpersonal communication sometimes ignored by writers. Characters from different backgrounds and life experiences express themselves in unique ways.


A naturopath reminded me the other day that experienced energy healers speak a language of their own. One that those unaccustomed to the art find confusing. The etheric body is as incomprehensible to the initiate as the idea of space travel was to the average man before Da Vinci built his spacecraft between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. His concept inspired the language of science fiction writers.


Doctors discussing the latest medical breakthrough use a vocabulary foreign to their patients. Patients break the news to loved ones in terms used within their familial group.


Musicians in each genre of music have a particular language for the way they coax magic from their instruments and voices.


Lovers speak of inspiration, dedication, and hope found in the presence of each other.


Teenagers use phrases and abbreviations that seem to change overnight in popularity. Parents answer in expressions derided or ignored by the adolescents they address.


Friends converse with the language of past experiences and never-forgotten embarrassing moments. Men use physical manifestations of friendship—the shoulder slap, the fist bump. Women are more apt to be huggers.


Couples often communicate without words, but rather in a ballet of movement, a tilt of the head, a tightening of the lips. A smoldering glance across a room is a language as old as time.


Watch the way people converse in a crowd. Identify patterns of verbal and body language that you can bring to different characters. Build on the verbal and nonverbal signals they bring to every relationship.


How do your characters express their relationships? Why and when did they create their language of shared thoughts and emotions? Are they able to establish a mutual understanding or does the natural language of each build new tension and conflict between them?


There’s no one method of communication that we all share. And our language patterns change as we communicate with different individuals or groups of people. Make your characters vivid and unforgettable with communication patterns uniquely their own.

Talent vs. Success

Even the most talented writer will never achieve success without sitting down and doing the work.  It’s easy to say we’re busy creating, but how much time do we waste each day on tasks that have nothing to do with writing?

Take an honest look at where you want to be with your writing by the first day of March.  Then be equally honest about the effort you’re making toward that goal.

Will you be a talented writer who never reaches publication?  Or will you be a success because you weren’t afraid of the hard work?


Own the Power of Your Words

Now, more than ever, each stroke of the pen makes a difference.  You say, “But I’m only writing fiction.”  Or you shrug off that short article about finding the best school for your children.  Never underestimate the impact every word you write makes on the reader.

So what do you choose to create with your words?



Have You Abandoned Your New Year’s Intentions Yet?

I read the other day that by January 21 of each year most people have abandoned or given up on the intentions they set on the first day of the year.

Wow!  Are we making our goals too hard?  Dreaming too big?  Reaching too high?

Or are we just not clear on what we desire?

Without clarity of purpose and plan, nothing gets done.  When that one vital piece of the equation, is missing there are no new inventions, symphonies, blockbuster books, movies, or movements.

In my last post, I gave you three words to focus on in 2017.  Now I want you to take another look at them.


Set Your Intentions

Are your intentions ambiguous and open-ended?

Maybe you’ve decided this is the year to get a book published.  Have you written any part of it?  Do you know what you want to say?  What do you want the book to inspire or incite in your reader?


If answering those questions make your head swim, it’s time to carve your intention into chewable pieces.

Those sub-intentions may look like this:

1)  Sit down for a week and decide on a theme/plot/reason for this book

2)  Write one chapter a week for the next fifteen (or whatever) weeks

3)  Devote two months to editing and rewriting the manuscript

4)  Spend the second quarter of the year researching publishing options, etc.


By creating clarity around your primary intention, you’ll have created a series of small steps that will lead you to your overall goal.


Sit Your Butt in a Chair and Write

If you’ve been having a tough time doing this, ask yourself what’s keeping you from getting started.

Maybe your chair is so uncomfortable you’d rather walk barefoot through a cactus farm than sit in it all day.  Get yourself a new chair.  If you can’t afford what you want, find a different place to work in your house.  Sit on the couch and write.  Curl up on your bed and create pages as fast as you can type.

If your environment is preventing you from writing, change it.


If time is your enemy, get up earlier, stay up later, or get a timer so you can work in bursts.  Once the timer goes off, you know you’re done for the day or for that writing episode.

Knowing you have a specific amount of time in which to write generates more creative energy. 


Success is the Compound Result of the Above Actions

You can have the best and clearest intention, but if you never sit down and write, you won’t be successful.

Or you can sit and write for hours every day, but without clarity around your purpose, you never attain your goal.

You’ve still got time to turn the new energy of 2017 into a tool to achieve your writing dreams.  Decide on your goal and purpose.  Get clear about them.  Claim them.  Then sit down and make them happen.  At the end of this year, you’ll be marking “Done” on your scoresheet while celebrating your accomplishment.


If you’d like to work with me in 2017, I’m currently setting my schedule for the next four months.  Email me at Suzanne@TransformationalEditor.com and let’s start a conversation about how I may help you attain your writing dreams.