‘Begs the Question’ or ‘Raises the Question’?

No, esteemed author friends. "Begs the question" does not mean "raises the question." What is our language coming to? I sound like a pedant, but honestly ...  the rash of "begging the questions" we're now seeing everywhere, even on news shows and in presumably "edited" books, is enough to drive an editor around the bend. People think it sounds cool ... Read More

‘What’s Wrong with My Query Letter?’

Something is amiss. You’ve written a great novel. You’ve sent your query letter to over sixty agents, and still you’ve had no requests to see the entire manuscript. Why isn’t your query letter working? As a book editor and writing doctor, I get emails from first-time novelists telling me this common tale of woe. When they send me their query ... Read More

Writing Children’s Dialog: How to Get It Right

Are you struggling with the task of writing children's dialog? Some of the worst dialog ever written, in both film and fiction, has been dialog for kids. We all know children are not just miniature grownups—they don’t think like adults or talk like adults. Yet writers seem to forget that when they go to write a story and place words ... Read More

Think Twice Before Writing a Novel

Are you working on writing a novel, perhaps your first? Do you plan to finish it, then bring in an editor for help with the final polish? My experience editing dozens of books by first-time novelists suggests you might be making a mistake. Most of the novels I critique are full of serious problems the author had no idea existed. That’s because it’s hard to see the weaknesses in your own writing. Each time I get a manuscript of this sort, I lament the fact that the author didn’t approach an editor early on in the writing, instead of after investing hundreds of hours in something that now must essentially be reconstructed, often from the ground up …

Read More

Adrenalize Your Action Scene!

Whether you write YA, romance, fantasy, or actual thrillers, there are times in any novel where an action scene is called for. These scenes can be among the hardest to write. What runs like an exciting movie in your imagination can end up clunking along on the page, causing even your own eyes to glaze over. So what goes wrong in action-scene writing? Surprisingly, it’s usually not what is missing in an action scene that’s the problem—it’s what is there that needs to be removed …

Read More