Monday’s Writerly Quote

I know many of us, especially us Row80ers, are in the midst of editing and revising. It can be one of the most difficult parts of the process, but it’s also the most necessary. This is where we take that lump of coal and eventually end up with a diamond.

Even Mark Twain agrees, in a way:

Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.

Okay, so it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but he’s right. The majority of us writers (and I really could say ‘all’ in that I haven’t run into a bad story ‘idea’ yet) have a fabulous story rumbling around in our minds. The issue is figuring out which words need to be crossed out as we translate from mind to paper.

Something we should all understand is that if we want to be great writers we will never stop editing. Let me say that one more time. If you want to be a great writer, you will never get to a point where you create a perfect first draft. You may create a pretty awesome first draft one day, but if you’re the type satisfied with mediocre effort, do us readers a favor and seek another career.

As a reader, I want the best from that author. I should want to do the same for my own readers, and I hope you do, too.

So embrace the editing process, friends. Let’s figure out which wrong words to cross out and show our readers stories they won’t be able to put down. Let’s never settle for mediocrity.

Do you like the editing process? Hate it? What have you done to help yourself better embrace it? How many drafts do you go through before you let anyone read your story?

SMC: Revision and Grammar Class

Next up at the Storymakers Conference for me came the master class with Annette Lyon, a professional editor, on Revision and Grammar. I’m going to start this off by saying her class was extremely helpful and her book is available on Amazon for $1.50 (Kindle Version). I picked it up myself. A reference guide like this for so inexpensive is worth it.

I’m going to let you in on a secret Annette revealed during this class. Yes, publishing houses have editors. BUT—and this is a big butthey will pass on novels that are too ridden with grammatical errors. Let me say that one more time:

They will pass on novels that are too ridden with grammatical errors.

Editing books costs money, especially if they’re spending a lot of time fixing things that the author should have fixed. Now, yes, we’re all still going to have typos in our manuscripts. But knowing that grammar is a factor in making or breaking your book’s future, it should be supremely important to make it as flaw-free as possible. It shows professionalism on our part. Isn’t $1.50 worth all that?

Okay, enough book talk. Let’s get into the class.


After that first draft you should always do a couple of personal read-throughs. Polish it as much as possible so when you hand it over to beta readers they’re focused on things you could really use help with, not mistakes you could have corrected yourself.

And definitely, 100% get a beta-reader (also called critique partner). They will see things you don’t because they’re not as close to the story as you are. Join a local writing group, meet other writers (via blogging or conferences), but find people you know will give you an honest critique. (Aka, your mom probably doesn’t count, although friends and family can be helpful before passing your novel along to beta readers.)


Apply the one-sentence test to your scene. Can you describe the scene in one-sentence? Is there action in the scene? Is there conflict? Make sure that something is happening internally as well as externally.

How many characters are on stage? Typically scenes will occur between two major players or it can get confusing for readers (although this is not necessarily a limit to two). Make sure you don’t overload readers with too many players in a scene.

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