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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Author's Tip: Edit your Manuscript by Mona Risk

Someone said that creating a good book is ten percent writing and ninety-percent editing.

These statistics may or may not be true. While I try to write my first draft as fast as I can to let the story flow, I certainly spend a lot of time polishing my manuscripts before sending them to an editor.

Let me pass on to you the ten commandments I learned from editors, successful authors, mentors or workshop instructors:

"Hook your reader with your best first sentence, first paragraph, first page. (Mary Buckham)

"Leave your reader in suspense with a grabbing hook at the end of each scene and each chapter. ( Mary Buckham again)

"Avoid introspection in the first three chapters or first fifty pages. (Donald Maass)

"Stay in the present. I still hear the late and wonderful Kate Duffy repeating: "Stay in the present. Don't tell me the back story of your characters. Let us discover it through their actions as the story develops."

"Show, don't tell. A reviewer made my day when he posted a review of my sweet and spicy, medical romance, BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, on Harlequin website.

He wrote: "Babies in the Bargain" could serve as an object lesson on how to 'show' and not 'tell' a story. You always know exactly what the characters are feeling, indeed, for the most part you 'feel' along with them. It's a great read.

"Change setting when you change scenes to avoid boring the reader. Change POV to better show the emotion.

"Pepper your dialogue with emotion.

"Add sensorial details that make us feel, see, hear, smell with the hero and heroine.

"Show the emotional development. (From an editor at Mills& Boon) You should see a definite increase of attraction from scene to scene until the love scene fall in place.

"Raise the stakes. (Donald Mass)

Here is an extra and most important commandment:
Create lovable characters. If your characters are weak or do not appeal to the reader, the reader will not connect with them and the best plot will fall apart.
I received a very nice praise from NY bestselling author Roxanne St. Claire that I used on my bookmarks: "Mona Risk writes heroes with heart, heroines with spunk, in stories and settings that are simply unforgettable." I am sure this praise can apply to many of you authors with wonderful books.

And here are famous quotes by famous writers:

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary - it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences~~Somerset Maugham.

The secret of becoming a writer is to write, write and keep on writing~~ Ken MacLeod
We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to~~ Somerset Maugham

The greatest rules of dramatic writing are conflict, conflict and conflict~~ James Frey

Mona Risk writes romantic suspense for Cerridwen Press, To Love A Hero and French Peril and medical romances for The Wild Rose Press, Babies in the Bargain and Rx for Trust. All her books are available at

Good luck with your next story.

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