Thrillers Worth Your Time: Lee Child’s ‘Jack Reacher’ Series

What is it about Lee Child’s plots that makes his thrillers so much better than most? I think it’s that genuine, complicated problem to work out, that each of his stories promises. Compare that to other thrillers that try to disguise a thin plot with cheap tricks to keep you guessing, such as jerking the reader backward and forward in time for no good reason, or withholding important facts when narrating a scene, in hopes of creating “mystery” …

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An Editor’s Advice for ESL Authors (Non-Native English Speakers)

I frequently get emails from ESL authors—non-native English speakers who have written a book in English and are looking for an editor before they publish. ESL authors, this article is for you. If you are extremely fluent in English, this article does not apply to you. But if you aren't, and if you've written the book in English, or translated ... Read More

The Almost-Great Novel: A True Cautionary Tale

I recently struck up a friendship with a first-time author I met in an online writers’ forum. He had written a YA novel that was soon to be published by a small publishing house. He hoped it would be the first of a trilogy …

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Getting Mad at Your Editor

Every few years I come across a client who responds to a professional edit by feeling offended. They have an emotional reaction to the criticism. The closer the story is to the author personally, the greater the chance that this will happen. Memoirists, for example, share intimate details of their lives. Having those sensitive subjects scrutinized by an editor who gives them honest feedback can, understandably, feel a  bit like having a wound debrided. Even if a doctor is gentle …

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Blooper-Proof Your Novel: How to Find and Fix a ‘Reality Violation’

Scene time and place: A Civil War combat zone, just after a skirmish. Soldiers limp away from the conflict, weary and depleted. One falls to the ground, too weak to make it back to camp. The ground is littered with bodies of the wounded and dead. Far in the background, a white SUV speeds across the battlefield.

Whoops! It’s a goof in a Hollywood production, and we congratulate ourselves on catching it. We all get a laugh out of bloopers we find in the movies, but when they show up in a novel we’ve written, they aren’t quite so funny …

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