Round 1…WRITE!


Hey there, writers.

I have a quest for you, if you choose to take it.

Post 100 (or fewer) words of your WIP (work in progress) in the comments below, and I will offer you editorial advice on it!

The advice I offer will be heavily grammatical and mechanical, but I will also give advice on word choice, pacing, character, clarity, etc. as appropriate.

Also, feel free to comment on your fellow writers’ work.

Now, show me what you’ve got!


David B. Coe: My New Old Book

Hello again, Magical Words! Great to be back here as I begin the publicity ramp-up to another book release.

The new book is called Spell Blind, and it’s the first book in a new contemporary urban fantasy series, the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, that I’m writing for Baen Books. The hardcover of Spell Blind drops on January 6, 2015. The second book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, will be out this summer.

This is actually a series that I’ve discussed here on MW in the past. The first book, in a substantially different form, sold initially to Meisha Merlin back in 2005. Not long after, Meisha Merlin went out of business, and I was fortunate enough to get back the rights to the books before they became entangled in the company’s Chapter Eleven negotiations. But when Lucienne and I put the books back on the market we couldn’t […]

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Beth Bernobich: The Revision Monster

The moment you finish your first draft, you are filled with delight. (And often, exhaustion.)

But let’s focus on the delight. You did it! You finished this most amazing and wonderful novel and you hope everyone loves it as much as you do, which is lots and lots and lots and…

Eventually you stop squeeing and climb down from the clouds. Maybe you spend a week or so retrieving your house from chaos. You catch up on life and family and everything else you neglected, including sleep.

Finally, a week or a month later, you open up the document for your amazing, sparkling draft and…

And here, the reactions vary. Some writers revise as they go along. They end up with a first draft that’s really a final draft. But others (like me) stare at the screen with dismay.

How am I ever going to fix this? I wonder.

Same […]

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Writer’s Retreats — Our Thoughts, Part One

There were six of us… There are three posts today, and three more next Friday. And this is how it happened.


‘Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane,’ or, How a Writers Retreat Took Root

Like so many other rooms hosting writer panels at 2013’s ConCarolinas, this particular one—”Burnham”— was overgrown with people. Overgrown, not overrun; we had planted ourselves there to hear published authors discuss a specific topic. Considering the quantity of us listeners squeezed in and barely keeping our feet, in the chaos it wouldn’t have been a stretch to be mistaken as trees. Maybe even a forest. Couldn’t tell ya since it was hard to see. But, as such things happen, especially when everyone is so squashed together, you becomes friendly with others around you. Doubly so when you later discover them also hanging out with authors from Magical Words. Bonus! And so, maybe unsurprisingly, a […]

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Putting It All on Paper — Melissa Gilbert

A few things happened that led to this post. Let me fill you in before we get started.

I’ve been a reader of the Jane Yellowrock series since the beginning, and I love the series, and Faith, of course. (I’m a Beast Claw, a member of her street team, too!) I had a chat with Faith about wanting to get into the publishing/editing world and what all that entailed. She suggested that I research story arcs, read Black Arts, and work up a discussion of the pacing of the arcs. Yeah, she gave me a homework assignment. That homework assignment developed into this post.

The first thing I needed to learn concerning story arcs was…what in the world is a story arc? I hit Google and learned that a story arc is the course the action takes along a story line. There can be multiple arcs in each book and […]

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Writing By Numbers

As far as I know, there aren’t any packages with paper, pens, and numbers you fill in to write a masterpiece, so that’s not what this is about.

It’s the simple fact that I hate numbers. Now, as a former biologist, who specialized in the most math heavy specialty in biology, that may seem odd. However, by the time I was in grad school, computers were just entering the scenes and there were wonderful programs that could do the biostats in seconds. With a matrix of nine characters across (leaf measurements) and five hundred across (number of plants), it made life easy.

I still can’t balance my checkbook. I can’t remember my phone number. And I have a heck of a hard time keeping score when I judge dogs. I let someone else take care of the addition.

Why didn’t anyone tell me the truth about how […]

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Ye Olde Gut Kick

Ever written something you really liked only to have someone tell you it’s not right/good/perfect/delightful? yeah, that happened to me. Yesterday, in fact. It’s crushing. It always is. And it’s part of the daily world of writers. I hate that part. But the truth is, that’s why agents and editors exist–to tell you what you need to improve your writing. While it’s hard to hear, at the same time, it’s necessary to improving craft.

It’s not that the entire piece was wrong. Just most of it. Heh. Really though, the conversation was really constructive and taught me a lot about where I need to go with this project. I’m going to have to tear it down to the ground, and some things will still work as is, and some will be able able to be recycled later, but essentially it’s a complete rebuild. It’s a little daunting, but also exhilarating. […]

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