Writing Mentoring

Next class runs 5-26 Oct 2022

You are a fabulous teacher. – Parsippany, NJ

Let me save you some time before reading this post by starting out as I did with Critiques: Online or via Email; Do you want to improve your writing? Are you willing to pay to improve?

If the answer to either of those is No then read no further, this post isn’t for you.

Answered Yes to both? Read on.
Continue reading “Writing Mentoring”

Writing Critiques: Online or via Email
(paying subscribers get an automatic 50% off regardless of subscription level)

Who’s my hero? Joseph Carrabis. Just finished an edit consult where he kindly, constructively, and expertly ripped my book blurb to shreds! LOVE IT! ‘Atta Boys do you no good. Find someone who will give it to you straight!! Thank you! I owe you. Mine felt soulless. Now I see why. It is humbling to be such a novice at something. I appreciate your help. – Augusta, GA

Let me save you some time before reading this post; Do you want to improve your writing? Are you willing to pay to improve?

If the answer to either of those is No then read no further, this post isn’t for you.

Your critique of my novel was priceless. – Hudson, NH

Answered Yes to both? Read on.

Your drive for improvement is inspiring. – Houston, Texas

  Continue reading “Writing Critiques: Online or via Email
(paying subscribers get an automatic 50% off regardless of subscription level)”

Arthur Plotnik’s “The Elements of Editing”

Serious writers and all the authors I know know Strunk&White’s “The Elements of Style,” aka The Little Book. I mention in Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” I have several copies and all are near my workstations so I’ll be no further than a click or arm’s reach should I need, and I need often enough they are a click or arm’s reach away and no further.

Few authors and no writers I know know Arthur Plotnik’s The Elements of Editing and, while not what I’d call required reading, it is definitely useful reading.

Plotnik’s The Elements of Editing is about the jobs of editors on the publishing end. This book will not help you edit your own work (at least not much. I did find some useful information in it, but I’m just that way. I’ll find useful things everywhere. It’s a developed trait and strongly recommended).

It will help writers and authors better understand what editors do and why some editors reject your work with a form letter and others write a glowing acceptance and ask for more (this has happened to me many times. Example: I wrote Morningsong in 1987 and nobody wanted it for over thirty years. I submitted it to Harvey Duckman and they asked me to become a regular contributor). It will help writers and authors get a feel for an editor’s day and what’s required to put out a regular magazine, journal, anthology, newspaper, book, and basically any form of regular media.

Most importantly, it’ll help authors and writers recognize a good editor from a bad editor (not to mention recognizing the unhandiwork of a machine editor. Avoid them in publishing).

Here’s some of the gems I found in an afternoon’s read:

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Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”

I’ve been using the so-called Little Book for years but only as a reference, not a resource. That changed recently when I’d finished editing a work-in-progress, The Inheritors, and had some spare cycles.

Definitely keep The Elements of Style handy as a resource. Keep it right next to your keyboard. I have physical copies near all my workplaces and electronic copies on all my devices. Because my memory could drain wet freshly cooked pasta, I pick it up several times a day and often for the same things.

Hopefully things will stick now that I’ve read it. (adding this note two days after writing this post. happy to report yes, things stuck. yeeha!)

The Elements of Style is rich in examples. My ninety-two page edition (complete with index) is now half dog-eared with notes waiting to be transcribed.

Yes, most people I know are familiar with Section I: Elementary Rules of Usage; when to use a comma, when to use a semicolon, how to form possessives, participle phrases, and all that grammar stuff.

Good! That’s what I used it for. Until this reading.

Please give yourself the opportunity to read the Introduction (it’s short and rich). Take a tour through Section II: Elementary Principles of Composition. Meander through Sections III and V: A Few Matters or Form and An Approach to Style respectively. Stroll through Section IV: Words and Expressions Commonly Misused (made myself an autocorrect list out of these).

Go slow, look around, and enjoy. The Little Book is a book mechanic’s toolchest. Get your hands dirty. It’s worth it.

Mystery Writers of America “Mystery Writer’s Handbook”

Another book purchased years ago and finally read because a work-in-progress, Search, had mystery elements and I wanted to know ahead of time what I should be doing and what to look out for.

Mystery Writer’s Handbook, like most of the writing books I’ve reviewed on my website, is a worthy read for all authors, writers, and writer-wannabes. It’s focus is mystery and its view is broad. Romantic suspense novels fall into the mystery fold. I didn’t know there was such a genre, but I do now and surprise! my work-in-progress with mystery elements is more a romantic suspense novel than not.

Like all writing books, it discusses character, scene, POV, dialogue, description, and the like. Its real power is in both plot – because good plot tends to drive most mystery and the plot techniques are gems – and editing – the chapter on revising and editing is truly a standout. An extra bonus is a short section on contracts. Many of the books I’ve read mention contracts, Mystery Writer’s Handbook provides a roadmap of potholes and things to avoid.

Strongly recommended.