What Beta Readers Are and Why You Want Them

Once you have worked your way through the Elements of Nonfiction Editing Checklist, taking as many passes as needed to address the Personality, Presentation, Voice, Information, and Mechanics of your book, what next? The first thing many writers do is run their manuscript past some beta readers or critique partners. …

When to Use Commas Between Adjectives

This question comes up often in my editing: should or shouldn’t there be commas between the adjectives in a string? I hate to tell you this but … it depends. Yeah, I know, English is complicated. That’s why I’m here. I swear, we don’t make up these rules just to …

Create Fictional Languages Without ConLangs

Constructed Languages like Elvish and Klingon are a vital part of much speculative fiction. But you needn’t be a linguist like Tolkein or Okrand to incorporate distinct fictional languages into your storyworld. You can use what we know about real-world languages to give the impression your characters are speaking different …

How to Go Deeper into Characters’ Emotions

One of the most frequent comments editors make on new writers’ manuscripts is to go deeper into characters’ emotions. Readers come to narrative stories for an emotional experience. So authors, both of fiction and of narrative nonfiction, need to go beyond telling the reader how a character feels. The goal …

Dictionaries Don’t Know Everything

One duty of a copyeditor is to check spelling, including whether a term should be solid, hyphenated, or open. Some terms are open, that is, they are written as two words, e.g., living room. If you search for livingroom (closed) at Merriam-Webster, you’ll be redirected to the page for living room (open).

The Prophet’s Chronicle Storyworld

One of the things fiction allows us to do is examine hypothetical situations that don’t exist in the real world. A novel is a large-scale thought experiment. This is true of any fiction, but doubly true in speculative fiction. The whole point of science fiction and fantasy is to explore …

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