Self-Editing Tips: Characters

Fictional characters can be said to be more like musical instruments than real people. They play a role that adds to the overall atmosphere of the piece. They make their own unique sounds, possess their own timbre, and have their own specific range of notes. But they can also fall out of tune or become discordant with the rest of the instruments, or the piece as a whole.

Characters need to be true to their nature, play their role with verisimilitude, and add value to the piece. But they need to be believable. Their actions and words need to adhere to a set of rules a reader might expect to accept. So, yes, they can wield a wand or a light saber, but their dueling banter must still come off as genuine. Their motivations ought to be human, even if their species is not, unless there are well-described reasons for them to act differently. Do they askew romantic attraction, but it turns out they are compelled to find a mate every seven years? Do they grow back a new head if a secret agent shoots the old one off? And if so, then why is this important to the story?

It’s good to be imaginative. But it’s important to be plausible. And consistent. Keep notes, or use a spreadsheet to document idiosyncrasies of your characters, no matter how human or alien.

And listen to real people talking to each other. Go to the mall, or sit on a bench at a popular park, or at the beach, or anywhere people go and chat with each other. Listen. Take notes. What are they saying? What do you imagine they are actually hearing? How long do they focus on the Green Bay Packers before they start talking about baking fails or carburetors or medical procedures?

The more you study human conversation and discern the reasons people make choices, the more plausible your characters will be.


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.


Two Years Editing Books!

I will be celebrating two years of professionally editing books in November. I have really enjoyed proofreading and developmental editing for my amazing clients. I just finished a fifth book for Amy Corwin! Her murder mystery romances are elegant and intelligent.

I’ve edited about a dozen books for Heidi Garrett, and I know she is working on something awesome right now in her faerie fantasy series!

And I’ve proofread three books for Thea Dawson, whose smart little romances will keep you turning pages!

I have worked with lots of other authors of fiction and non-fiction, and I can’t wait to hear from you! Email me at and let me know more about your project!

Summer is Over – Time to Write!

It was way too hot in western Oregon for my taste this summer. I’m glad autumn is here. And now that you may be done vacationing, it might be time to get back to that book you were writing. Whether it’s a novel or your life story, or a book about baby names or international tea pricing trends, I hope you finish it!

And then you’ll need someone to proofread it, or help you develop it. That’s where I come in. I’ve provided developmental editing and line editing for books about faeries, books about searching for the truth about Amelia Earhart, books on human rights atrocities, books on motivating people to get healthier and wealthier, romance novels, regency romance and mystery novels, books about monsters and books about Renaissance painters and mental patients.

I would be happy to help you make your book even more awesome. Check out my Services and Terms, and then contact me at I have many satisfied, repeat clients.

Enjoy autumn!