Writing Process—Fiction from Nonfiction: Guest Post by Alex Vorkov

You know how some books just grab you from the first page and don’t let go?  That’s the way I felt when I read Generation 0, a post-apocalyptic novel about three young girls who band together to survive when all the adult in the world die at the same moment. I was lucky enough to edit an early version of Alex Vorkov’s book, and I’m thrilled that he agreed to share some behind-the-scenes secrets about his writing process with you. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming this multitalented writer.


I confess: I rarely read books in my genre.

That’s one of The Rules, isn’t it? You must read in your genre or else you’ll fail (in some manner that no expert can articulate or demonstrate with evidence). Here’s what I think about such writing rules: Feh! Continue reading “Writing Process—Fiction from Nonfiction: Guest Post by Alex Vorkov”

Caring for Your Writer—10 Easy Steps for Friends & Family

I found this funny (and truth-filled) blog at Word Savant this morning, and I just had to share:

Caring for Your Writer—10 Easy Steps for Friends & Family #writerslife #writers Click To Tweet

Congratulations!  You are now the proud owner of a writer!  Your writer will perform amazing tricks for you, such as spending hours and hours by themselves working on something that they may never finish. Or, accumulating a small collection of editors who thank them for their work but it’s just not right for this publication.

You may be wondering how to feed and care for this moody and reclusive creature, who is “writing a novel” but won’t tell you what it’s about.  Writers need specialized care, so here are 10 easy Do’s and Don’ts to take care of this special breed.

(Read the rest at Caring for Your Writer – 10 Easy Steps for Friends & Family.)


Happy Writing!



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A Fantasy Novelist’s Approach to Editing

approach to editingI am impressed with any writer who manages to blog and write every day! Fantasy writer Victoria Grefer, author of The Crimson League, does just that, and you can read her daily blog about creative writing and marketing fiction at www.crimsonleague.com. Her blogs are full of wonderful information any writer can use, and she graciously accepted my invitation to share tips about her editing process with you. Victoria will soon release a writer’s handbook titled Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction, which addresses aspects of not only mechanics and style, but the emotional barriers that can impede aspiring writers (and even experienced ones) from making progress with their work.

If you’ve ever been flummoxed by editing your own work (and who hasn’t?), I know you’ll enjoy reading Victoria’s insights. Take it away, Victoria!

Are you flummoxed by editing your own work? #writetip #amediting Click To Tweet


I’m a fantasy writer, and like many writers of all genres of fiction, a large portion of my editing process comes from Stephen King and his handbook On Writing, which I would recommend to any writer who’s not offended by a frequent four-letter word (because King does use them).

At King’s suggestion, I begin any edit with a read-through of my first draft, during which I inhibit myself from making changes (as much as possible). Rather, I jot down quick notes about my reactions to the text. I note pacing issues. I note when a passage or paragraph can most likely be cut. I note when something feels unclear and raises questions. I note when dialogue feels stilted or doesn’t fit the character who’s speaking. I note inconsistencies: I’ve found tons of them, ranging from a character’s eyes changing color to someone mentioning a fact he has no way of knowing at that point in time.

Now, I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as a definite “writing process,” in that every author does things differently, and no single path will lead all to success. That also applies to editing. My personal approach to editing is to start with those comments I wrote during the read-through.

Editing is a long, heart-wrenching process, and especially so for a perfectionist like me. I make it easier by writing my comments using the “Review” function in Microsoft Word, so that when I edit, I can delete each comment as I’ve addressed the issue it references. This helps me feel a sense of accomplishment as I make slow, plodding progress through the document. There’s something rewarding about pressing that “X” on each comment, one by one. I also make sure to write some positive comments during my read-through, when I’m pleased with some aspect of the scene I’m reading. This self-affirmation keeps my confidence up as I confront the shortcomings of my work, a number of which don’t involve fun or simple fixes.

I write as a pantser—meaning without an outline, or “by the seat of my pants”—so while I do end up cutting a lot of information, I also have to add things. I generally don’t know before I write my novel’s end how things are going to end, which leaves me with a need to prepare my reader for the ending I hadn’t anticipated. This means adding material. At the least, I have to add snippets of information to already existing scenes; often I create new scenes entirely.

Because of my personal style, I’ve never agreed with those who say you should never add much material while you edit. Sure, cutting matters. Even I end up with a smaller word count than I started with after a good edit. Every first draft has its share of fluff that needs to go, but depending on your style and your personal process, adding a fair amount of material might be as necessary as making deletions. I don’t like to make blanket statements about the “evils” of adding words.

One blanket statement I can make is this: one of the best editing tips I can give you is to stop and ask yourself, when you reach a problem paragraph that you just can’t get right, whether you can cut it. Often I’ll spend half an hour working and reworking a paragraph because it doesn’t sound the way it should or do what I need it to do. Then, in exasperation, I’ll consider whether the reason I can’t get things in order is that the paragraph doesn’t need to be there. Often, that’s the case. Most, if not all, of the paragraph can go without causing me trouble, and if there’s a snippet of information that I do find I need, I can usually insert it somewhere else in the scene or connect it to the preceding or subsequent paragraph.

Sorry to digress there, but that point is important. Now, to get back to my process: once I get through all my comments from the read-through, I celebrate. Then I read through again but stop to edit as I go. I do this multiple times, reshaping scenes with each pass. First I focus on content edits, giving style a bit of a backseat. I make sure pacing works, and characterization, and that my plot holds up. Then I do one quick pass for style and typos before sending my work off to beta readers. Once I get their comments, I make more changes and more cuts based upon their feedback. I do more content edits, then style edits. I focus on passive voice, using adverbs too much, using “it” without an antecedent. I hone in on phrases I know I overuse and either cut or change them in every instance that I can.

So, that’s my editing process. I’m curious about how other people go about it. Do you do things in a similar way, or quite differently? Non-fiction writers, do you edit in a different way? Do you think that whether you’re editing fiction or non-fiction makes a difference? Please feel free to comment!

Victoria Grefer is from New Orleans, Louisiana. A lifelong student and avid reader, she has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and English and a master’s degree in Spanish literature from the University of Alabama. She has taught Spanish and tutored, and now is establishing herself as a freelance translator and perhaps editor as well. She is the author of the Herezoth trilogy, sword and sorcery fantasy beginning with The Crimson League and ending May 31, 2013 with The King’s Sons. She blogs daily about creative writing and marketing fiction at www.crimsonleague.com


If you aren’t already following Victoria’s blog, I urge you to hurry over and check it out, which is something I do every day. Thanks for visiting both of us today, and if you enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing so you’ll never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

And if you want more great writing and publishing information, check out my Facebook page, where I share all kinds of interesting articles and links.

3 Things You Shouldn’t Hire an Editor to Do

3 Things You Shouldn’t Hire an Editor to Do
Don’t waste your money–read this article first!

When authors contact me about editing, they often don’t even know what they need. They know they should hire an editor at some point, but many are confused about terminology like developmental editing, copyediting, and proofreading. But there is SOOOO much a writer can do before paying an editor for his or her expertise—and I’d like to show you three ways to not only save your money but get the most bang for your editorial buck.

1.    Don’t pay an editor to edit your first draft.

No matter how brilliant your ideas are, or how beautifully you phrase them, do some serious revising before you hire professional help. Learning to revise your work is an important part of becoming a professional writer. Get rid of those extraneous words, the fluff that doesn’t say anything, the character who doesn’t advance the story. Consider every word, every sentence, every paragraph. There is no point in hiring a copyeditor to clean up work you may later delete in a revision.

Don’t pay an editor to edit your first draft. #editingtip #amwriting #selfpublishing Click To Tweet

2.    Don’t expect an editor to provide a service other than the one you’ve contracted for.

Your manuscript may need different types of editing help at different stages of your writing process. When you hire a developmental editor, you hire someone to help you with the big picture, not small details like punctuation. When you hire a proofreader, don’t expect help with your story arc; a proofreader is looking at details (like that pesky punctuation the developmental editor didn’t care about). If you’re uncertain about the type of editing help you need, ask me—I’ll be happy to help you figure it out. I’m here to help you make that book, newspaper article, blog post, advertising flyer—or anything else that strings together those amazing, marvelous things called words—sound as perfect and professional as it can be.

3.    Don’t hire an editor to tell you what you want to hear.

You are the author, and you have the right to disagree with your editor. You always have the right to ignore his or her advice and reject suggested changes. But if you engage intellectually in the editing process, you’ll find your writing improves and your ideas crystallize as a result. Remember that your editor hasn’t lived with your ideas, plot, or character—and that’s one of the reasons why you hired him or her to work with you. It is difficult to be objective about your writing when you are so close to it, so really consider every suggestion—then discuss your ideas and concerns, and make your editor your partner in creating the very best work you are capable of writing.

My love affair with words is the best tool in your arsenal as a published author. You came up with fantastic ideas, and I’ll help you make sure they come across the way you want them to. I love words, and I’d love to play with yours. Email me at cyjohnson5580@gmail.com, and let’s discuss how I can help you.

Happy Writing!



Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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