Is a Developmental Editor Right for You?

editingAccording to Big Al’s Publishing Process Survey, only 45 of the 85 respondents paid to work with an editor, although another 17 traded services. There are a number of reasons, ranging from the artistic to the monetary, for deciding not to work with an editor. I’ve taken the other path and worked with at least one editor on every project I’ve published. It’s my single biggest publishing expense on each book, which, given my propensity for thrift, shows how much I value my editors’ feedback.

When writers do choose to employ a professional editor, they normally do it at the end of the process, either working with a copy editor or a proofreader. I do that as well, but I also work with a developmental editor often before I type the first words. I’ve talked about this with enough fellow writers to realize I probably lost a few of you right there:  The process of creation is sacrosanct. I just want an editor to clean up my grammar and look for a few bad habits. I don’t want them to interfere with my creative vision. Continue reading “Is a Developmental Editor Right for You?”

“The Chosen One” Is a Recipe for Writing Failure

Sabrina ZbasnikGuest Post
by S.E. Zbasnik

In speculative fiction, there’s a trick people rely upon to insure their protagonist is the only one who can preserve the kingdom, save the world, and rescue the galaxy from mechanical centipedes. Unroll some ancient parchment, have blind monks read it in catacombs, and declare your main character the chosen one.


To say the chosen one has been done to death is to think hurricanes are a little windy. Not only is it a cliché infesting every genre it touches, it’s also a drama killer. Wrack your brain trying to create believable villains, establish obstacles that no one should survive, place your main character in immediate danger, and it all amounts to nothing. We know he’ll survive; he has to. He’s the chosen one. The spoilers are written right there in an ancient scroll only a wandering transient can read because his order failed to maintain itself before the prophesied times. Maybe they should have hosted more pancake feeds to raise funds. Continue reading ““The Chosen One” Is a Recipe for Writing Failure”

How to Lose a Novel Writing Contest

See, everyone reacts differently. Reading a really bad manuscript doesn’t make me want to cry. It makes me angry. No, I’m not kidding. I wish I were. This article could also be called “How to Make Me Stop Reading Your Entry” because clearly you didn’t take the time or make the effort to have someone else read what you wrote first. Among other things.

Honestly, NOT having someone else read your first chapter before submitting it ANYWHERE is clearly insane. That first chapter is your hook…that first chapter is going to dictate whether the reader keeps reading…and in my case, if the judge keeps judging. Yes, I’m back on the novel writing contest again. Hopefully, someone will gain some sort of insight from the awful, awful things I’ve seen. My eyes! (Cue music from Gone with the Wind.) Okay, I may be exaggerating just a little bit. My eyes don’t actually hurt, my brain does.

Missing words and typographical errors should NEVER occur in a first chapter. Theoretically, they should never occur in a manuscript, but we’re all human and eventually it’s going to happen. But in a submission to a contest? Really? I don’t get that. Many agents and/or publishers will ask for the first chapter(s) in their submissions instructions. If you’re not self-publishing, and you’re trying to hook someone, you HAVE to have that first chapter stellar and pristine. Anything less is setting yourself up to lose. Continue reading “How to Lose a Novel Writing Contest”

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