Amazing New Rates

You need your book edited, proofread, or you need help developing your characters or plot. But the investment required to get professional help seems steep.

Dickinson Copy Editing to the rescue! My new lower rates may dazzle you, so please wear eye protection when viewing them.

I have edited or proofread for romance writers, fantasy authors, murder mystery writers, self-help gurus, human rights advocates, attorneys, and I would be excited to proofread or edit for you!

Contact me at steppenwolfedww@hotmail.com, and let’s talk about how your book deserves an extra dose of awesome.

Writing and Editing Paranormal Romance

Strategically, from an author’s perspective, paranormal, science fiction and fantasy are all very similar genres to work on. In addition to strong character development and plot structure, these genres all require intriguing and careful world-building. While it’s true that a world of witches or ghosts is different from one involving aliens, robots, trolls or elves, I still think the environment has to be subtly but deftly imagined and described.

Many decades ago I began writing a fantasy novel set on a remote island in the distant future, where a young character was tasked with locating a certain number of mystic artifacts. I was 16 then, and no idea about the rules of myth or legend writing, coming of age stories, or the Three-Act structure. I just wrote. And while the story rambled on with no clear plot, I knew what the lay of the land was, what kind of obstacles my hero would face, and at least vaguely what the monster looked like.

I drew a map.

Astoundingly, I still have that story and the map, which are both still inside the 32 year-old notebook.

The point is not that the story was good. It wasn’t. But I could pick it up today and start it over again, and the world I imagined is still right there, ready to be described and shared.

Sympathetic characters in my paranormal stories all share a common trait. They have certain types of connections with ghosts. The rules of engagement in my ghost stories are consistent throughout my stories, even if the characters change from story to story.

So as you write paranormal, science fiction or fantasy stories, feel free to jot down your rules. You don’t have to follow established rules from films or literature regarding what zombies or Martians can or cannot do. But you need to consistently adhere to your own rules.

I can help you brainstorm descriptions for your world, or solidify your plot structure, help you develop characters, and, of course, copy edit or proofread your drafts. Contact me at steppenwolfedww@hotmail.com, because your book deserves an extra dose of awesome!

Editing Self-Help Books

Nonfiction can be about many things. It can be biographical or auto-biographical; like a documentary, it can be mostly exposition–informative and educational. But self-help books need to have more of a directive, a purpose specific to the reader. The author is giving advise, telling the reader what to do, how to solve a problem.

There are a number of ways to organize a self-help book. One way is to construct the book in three acts: Where you are; How you got there; and How you can get to a better place. Another is to take a chronological approach, with the author sharing her or his own story in order of how the events unfolded. And still another strategy is to attack the most powerful aspects of the problem first, and the smaller issues later.

I recently edited a book that set out to define the self-help process scientifically: What is holding you back? Do you really need those things in your life? What do you want your life to look like? What people or activities do you need in your life? And so on, like a flow chart.

One thing that is different about editing nonfiction, especially self-help, is that the editor has to be diligent in fact-checking. There are so many urban myths and bits of misinformation floating around, especially on the web; it’s easy for a writer to forget to check the veracity of every single claim he or she makes.

Here is a minor example: I remember being told years ago that Andrew Jackson and Jimmy Carter were the only two presidents not to earn a college degree. But if I included that in a story or article, I’d have to look into it deeper. It turns out that Jimmy Carter has a Bachelor of Science from the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Jackson was educated, but may not have earned a degree. Still, he passed the bar and practiced law, and this was in a time before there were universities on every street corner, like coffee shops. So, as an editor, if my client was claiming that these two failed to earn degrees, I’d provide him or her with the appropriate information about Carter and Jackson. I would also be curious how common college degrees were in the early days of the fledgling United States. Were apprenticeships more the fashion then? How formal was the education?

An editor doesn’t have to be the expert on a broad range of subjects. My clients are! But I get to make sure everything they claim is backed up in solid research of the facts.

If you want to make your self-help or other nonfiction book sing, contact me at steppenwolfedww@hotmail.com.

Your book deserves an extra dose of awesome!

Editing Science Fiction

Some say science fiction is a slowly dying genre. But I think there is still a market for it. The challenge with sci-fi is that a lot of writers invest so much mental bandwidth developing a compelling environment, or intriguing fictional technology, that they neglect the two most important aspects of story-telling—character development and story development.

It’s great to come up with an original setting, or the next kind of phaser or light saber, or special super powers that no one has thought of before. But the characters still need to have flaws, they need plausible motivation, and they need to have realistic relationships with each other, bad or good. Good guys need to have a little darkness, and bad guys need a tiny spark of humanity.

Dialog needs to be crisp, sometimes amusing, but always realistic and appropriate for the setting. Too much yippee ki yay and the reader starts to feel like they’ve already read this story. But a lack of humor can also turn away a reader.

The story still needs to follow the Three-Act structure, and a little romance goes a long way in sci-fi. But in this genre, more explosions and fewer smooches are usually a good idea.

I can help you develop your story, brainstorm ideas—outlandish or realistic—and help you keep your characters and dialog sharp and engaging. Contact me at steppenwolfedww@hotmail.com, because your book deserves an extra dose of awesome!

How to Do It All

Linda Formichelli recently released a fabulous self-help book about making the most of your time, choosing your destiny, and leaving behind the stuff that slows you down. It’s called How to Do It All: The Revolutionary Plan to Create a Full, Meaningful Life – While Only Occasionally Wanting to Poke Your Eyes Out With a Sharpie.

It’s logical, fun, moves quickly, and her plan is attainable.

And I proofread it.

Buy it, you’ll like it!

Editing Romance

Romance is hard to write because there are so many romance writers out there. Some write raunchy romance; some write historical romance; some write traditional girl meets boy, girl hates boy, girl suddenly likes boy, they get married.

I think the key to writing a good romance is to develop really fascinating characters. The reader has to feel strongly for the two main characters, though they both have to have noticeable flaws. The reader has to want the couple to work out. And there have to be plausible obstacles.

But romance also has to follow the Three-Act structure. In the first act, all the players, the conflicts, and the dreams of the characters have to be introduced. In the second act everything has to fall to pieces. And in the third act the hero or heroine shows who they really are, and someone has to get together.

I strongly recommend writers outline their stories. Break up your outline into three acts. Break up each act into a certain number of chapters, maybe 10 – 15 chapters for the first act; 8 – 12 for the second act; and 10 – 15 for the third act. When I write, my chapters tend to be short–1500 to 2000 words–so I aim for a total of about 35 chapters in my outlines, and my first draft tends to expand that to 40 or 50 chapters. Pacing is also important. Some sections of your book need to sprint, while others can be more reflective (though not for too long).

A large portion of the books I edit are romances. I can help you develop your story, copy edit your first draft, or proofread after your beta readers have given you feedback on your third draft.

Contact me at steppenwolfedww@hotmail.com.

Editing Nonfiction

Most of the books I edit or proofread are fiction; romance, historical, mystery, fantasy. But editing nonfiction is a nice change of pace, also. I recently proofread a great book about re-examining every aspect of one’s life in order to determine what really makes one happy, and what doesn’t belong in one’s life. It was refreshing!

I edited a book last year about the history of human rights violations. I also edited a book about Amelia Earhart. And one about the British political system.

One thing I love about editing is that I get to learn about something while I work.

Win!