Re: Ask the Editor

#121
Hello thanks for this thread I'm posting my first fiction here since the competition last month.
I'm a new writer but trying to improve as I want to tell a lot of stories. If you could have a look at my story it would help a lot, I'm curious to know about the blurb as it cover more the first stage of the story and not it overall and if it catches attention.
And about the first chapter is it a good opening or maybe too long? Does the hook work or is it too weak?

I live in another country the rates from patreon that you said are the acceptable amount are actually a good wage here. About 300 dollars.
The story is in my signature. ( Btw I'm planning on changing the cover as this one isn't evocative of the story anymore and the visibility on the title is not that great. I even changed it.)
Thanks already :)

Re: Ask the Editor

#122

NovelNinja Wrote: I always find this sort of thing interesting. Even as a child I had a hard time learning another language, and joke that I keep faking my way through English. The idea of so many people around the world learning (as a secondary) the language I grew up with feels odd, despite knowing the statistics. I lived in Italy for several years as a child (and no, I barely learned Italian; my Italian teacher gave up on me and started giving me class credit for helping her practice English), and while I was grateful that so many people at least understood enough English to help me at the store or while exploring, I kept feeling surprised that so many people could (and would) speak English. It's a little more understandable today, thanks to the Internet, but this was before the World Wide Web. Back then, we still had computer training in school, and sending an email was almost an exercise in programming.

But I really find it interesting that Finns start learning English even earlier than Swedish. How much of Finnish entertainment (TV, movies, that sort of thing) is in English?

I grew up on the east side of Finland, closer to the Russian border, so learning Swedish always felt a bit useless. Most of the Swedish-speaking Finns live in the south or west side of Finland, and nobody really spoke Swedish where I grew up. I never thought that I would ever actually have to use Swedish anywhere. That's why I probably didn't even put much effort into learning it properly. Later, I actually didn't get one job because I couldn't speak Swedish properly. In Finland, there have also been many attempts and movements over the years to try to stop the mandatory Swedish lessons.

I'm guessing that still most of what we see here is in English since luckily Finland isn't dubbing much, except programs for small children. Of course there's content in other languages too, but I think most consumption for entertainment is still in English. I don't have percentages, but if I would make a guess, I would go for about 50-60 percent is in English.

Most Finnish entertainment is reality or game shows, and tv series of variable quality. Lately, the percentage of Finnish entertainment has grown though. I think ever since the Nordic noir genre became popular, there has been an upsurge of Finnish tv series that have more quality. The movie scene is also getting more versatile by the year, and overall the Finnish language entertainment has grown in size and in quality in the last 5 years or so. I feel like people are starting to appreciate more of the domestic productions as the quality goes up. So I'm guessing that percentage will change quite rapidly. But when I was a kid, there was no VOD or much quality Finnish shows, so I had to watch anime with English subtitles :D

Re: Ask the Editor

#123
Hey, thanks for taking time out of your day to give us newbies your insight. Even beyond the answers you give it helps soothe the first time jitters a lot to talk with an editor in a casual setting!

My general request is pretty generic, if you can take a look at my story description, prologue & chapter 1 and what your advice and first impression are: https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/42016/two-collars

I have a few questions regarding the story that I think you should get a good impression of after reading the first chapter:
A)How descriptive would you have preferred it to be for the world and city the chapter took place in. I received feedback that said that the readers would have preferred more information and backstory but writing it in just feels awkward to me like it's drawing attention away from the main focus of the story which is the characters.

B)The same question but for the magic system I suppose :hmm, these technical bits of the story

C)The first chapter from my own analysis doesn't have a strong hook, if a hook at all. Is it acceptable to introduce the hook of the story in the prologue or story description and then start the first chapter immediately with the assumption that the reader already knows the hook, and therefore doesn't need to be reestablished?

D)This question is super specific to my story, so here goes:

As you can probably tell, the first chapter & prologue are actually quite disconnected from the story description. At the moment, the "castle arc", the heist story that is going to take place over the course of the first 8 or so chapters (possibly less after editing), is meant as a in medias res introduction of the main character that displays his character traits, backstory and beliefs through the way he interacts in one of the missions he goes on. He is present in the first chapter, among the main cast, it's just that his identity is a secret until around chapter 3 or so. 

This introductory arc also sets up a few more characters that are relevant further on.

Once the introduction is done, the story is meant to move on to the "main" arc/story.

I feel like this is really risky, honestly, however I fell in love with some of the characters and set ups that were birthed as the natural writing process took place and wrestled control away from me, as it always does. :lmao

How likely is it that this kind of start can actually work? Can it work at all? Once the introduction is done, the setting's location changes quite a bit and a new "adventure" takes place, and I have absolutely no frame of reference if this is viable or if it's literary suicide that sinks the book before the "main" story can even get going.

Re: Ask the Editor

#124
Hi, it would be great to get your thoughts on my first chapter. I went into it trying to accomplish three core things: a strong voice for Hump with a working class wizard vibe, a gritty d&d setting, and the theme of adventure. 

I've been writing for about six years now, any advice on specific areas that I could focus on improving would be much appreciated. If you make it into Chapter 2, a big part of my focus to improve was on dialogue and making characters feel like individuals.

https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/43181/the-hedge-wizard

~Alex

Re: Ask the Editor

#125

kyfirow Wrote: Hello thanks for this thread I'm posting my first fiction here since the competition last month.
I'm a new writer but trying to improve as I want to tell a lot of stories. If you could have a look at my story it would help a lot, I'm curious to know about the blurb as it cover more the first stage of the story and not it overall and if it catches attention.
And about the first chapter is it a good opening or maybe too long? Does the hook work or is it too weak?

I live in another country the rates from patreon that you said are the acceptable amount are actually a good wage here. About 300 dollars.
The story is in my signature. ( Btw I'm planning on changing the cover as this one isn't evocative of the story anymore and the visibility on the title is not that great. I even changed it.)
Thanks already :)

This is a good opening chapter. You'll need to work on your English nuances, but that's a matter of practice. I'll get into it in a moment, but I wanted you to know that I added this one to my Read Later list because it's a good diamond in the rough. I like the character, and I like the political situation; the latter feels like a less-apocalyptic version of Sanderson's Reckoners trilogy. 

Your blurb is currently: 

Quote:Joseph has only one dream, one he had since he was a child. To have powers. The fantasy of all little kids. And when powers started appearing, lots of these kids received them, but not Joseph. Instead of outgrowing it, he became more and more obsessed. By the time the dictatorship began, he was already deep entrenched in a group known as the Sleepwalkers, a bunch of power-hungry people that come together to try and gain powers at any personal cost. that culminated in an event where he almost died. 

Years later, after therapy and acquiring multiple degrees in biology and power studies, he teaches at a high school and coaches the kids who awaken, but under it all he still conducts his experiments in the hopes of awakening himself.

Now, he lucked into a sudden opportunity to gain powers. Will he take on that offer and finally realize his dream?

And when he does... What will he use his powers for?



Author here, this story is thought to be a exploration of powers through the protagonists eyes, it will have lots of pondering and explanation around powers but all interconnected with the world.
The story is set in a Future Brazil where powers started appearing and later a dictatorship was reestablished.
I always wanted to write stories and hope to post lots of them so follow me and hope to bring some good books to the world, I'll be posting with the same username on other sites as well.

I hope you enjoy reading!

(cover art done by myself)

[Winner in the Royal Road Writathon challenge] April/May2021


The blurb doesn't match your first chapter, primarily because it makes it sound like he left the Sleepwalkers years ago and now has nothing to do with them. It also makes it sound like he's young at the start of the story. 

You don't want to say that a dictatorship was reestablished, unless this is a repeat of a previous dictatorship. 

Also, saying the Sleepwalkers are "power-hungry" might be literally true in the sense that they desire powers, but in English this phrase always refers to desiring power over others (such as the dictatorship). Based on your first chapter, this is not the case. They sound more like a sub-Reddit.

You want to establish the following elements in your blurb, based on my reading so far: 
* Joseph has only one dream: to gain powers. 
* He has never grown out of this obsession. 
* To that end, he has gained multiple degrees in biology and "power studies" (which should probably be capitalized, i.e. Power Studies). 
* He belongs to a group of people called the Sleepwalkers, who want to awaken powers. 
* He conducts experiments on himself to awaken powers. 
* He teaches at a high school and coaches students who awaken. 
* The story takes place in a future Brazil which exists under a dictatorship. 
* The story is slow-burn and centered around the nature of powers. (I assume this means it's not a superhero-type action story.) 

So my suggestion for a new blurb is:

Quote:When powers began appearing across Brazil, many hoped to be among those who awaken new abilities. Joseph was one of those who never saw his dream come true. Even as Brazil fell under the rule of a new dictatorship, Joseph remained focused on his obsession. He joined the Sleepwalkers, a group dedicated to awakening powers at any cost, and has conducted dangerous experiments on himself for years; but he was still no closer to his goal than ever before. After earning multiple degrees in biology and Power Studies, Joseph's life consisted solely of teaching at a high school, coaching students who awaken, discussing powers with the Sleepwalkers, and the experiments he ran in his personal lab.

Then one of the other Sleepwalkers offered him his dream on a silver platter. There was no question about accepting it.

The only question was . . . what will Joseph do with his power?

Adaptive Metamorphosis: Morning Sun is a slow-burn tale that explores a world changed by powers, and is set in a future dystopian Brazil.

Cover art by myself; winner of the Spring 2021 Writathon Challenge.


I'm guessing (from the setting of the story) that you're Brazilian. Some of the quirks in the writing do feel Portuguese, too. For example, in English you don't say that someone is "on his thirties," you say "in his thirties." There are also some awkward verbs, such as "laid the journal on." From what I know of Portuguese, that makes sense; but it's awkward in English. We just omit the "on" because that status is inferred from "laid." 

Your prose can be improved by a similar method: don't spend so much time telling us exactly what happens. Some things can be left up to the imagination, and anything your audience pictures will be more detailed than what you can put on the page. For example, at the end of your last chapter:

Quote:Lying down to sleep I saw the good news. Morning_Tea had answered me. In about two weeks I’d get my dose. He promised it had a good chance of working, with some fellow sleepwalkers having awakened already. I tried to control my expectations, but it was a long night of staring at the ceiling, just imagining how it would feel. What I’d would get when I finally awakened.


(By the way, look a few posts ago for my advice on remembering the difference between lying and laying.)

You can trim it down like this:

Quote:Before I lay down to sleep, I checked my messages. Morning_Tea had answered. Two weeks. Just two weeks, and I'd get my dose. Apparently, some of the Sleepwalkers had already gained powers.

I tried to control my expectations; but all I could do was lay in bed, imagining what it would be like to finally awake.


Again, good beginning. Keep it up.




I normally do one big post for everyone who has commented since my last post, but this week's been busy and I have to unexpectedly fly out of town to handle some family business. I don't know how much time I'll have to reply in the next two weeks. The following users can expect me to get them replies, in this order:

* K.M. Keane
* Neruc
* Alex M

Any and all are welcome to comment in the meantime, and I'll get to you as soon as possible.

Re: Ask the Editor

#126

K.M. Wrote: I grew up on the east side of Finland, closer to the Russian border, so learning Swedish always felt a bit useless. Most of the Swedish-speaking Finns live in the south or west side of Finland, and nobody really spoke Swedish where I grew up. I never thought that I would ever actually have to use Swedish anywhere. That's why I probably didn't even put much effort into learning it properly. Later, I actually didn't get one job because I couldn't speak Swedish properly. In Finland, there have also been many attempts and movements over the years to try to stop the mandatory Swedish lessons.

I'm guessing that still most of what we see here is in English since luckily Finland isn't dubbing much, except programs for small children. Of course there's content in other languages too, but I think most consumption for entertainment is still in English. I don't have percentages, but if I would make a guess, I would go for about 50-60 percent is in English.

Most Finnish entertainment is reality or game shows, and tv series of variable quality. Lately, the percentage of Finnish entertainment has grown though. I think ever since the Nordic noir genre became popular, there has been an upsurge of Finnish tv series that have more quality. The movie scene is also getting more versatile by the year, and overall the Finnish language entertainment has grown in size and in quality in the last 5 years or so. I feel like people are starting to appreciate more of the domestic productions as the quality goes up. So I'm guessing that percentage will change quite rapidly. But when I was a kid, there was no VOD or much quality Finnish shows, so I had to watch anime with English subtitles :D

Again, very interesting. I assume most of the English-language entertainment is American, yes? How often do you see British, Irish, Canadian, Australian, or New Zealander? Are there any other non-Finnish sources of entertainment? 

I also wonder if the uptick in good Finnish entertainment coincides at all with the slump in American production. 

Still to come: 

* Neruc
* Alex M

Re: Ask the Editor

#127

NovelNinja Wrote: it's a good diamond in the rough.

Thanks a lot. It makes me happy to know that my story show promise.


NovelNinja Wrote: Sanderson's Reckoners trilogy.




That's on my reading list since before I started this book but I haven't gotten to it yet. I watched the lessons from Brandon on YouTube and they're very helpful and since then his books are something I plan to delve into.

And thanks for all the advice over all I'll try to implement it into my story.

I also really liked the blurb you made. Can I use it in my story? Didn't catch you policy on that. 

About grammar, I recently saw that a lot of authors use the ProWritingAid for help in that, but I've also seen concerns it kills the author's voice. So I wanted to know your opinion on these automatic grammar checkers. 
Thanks for the feedback :)

Re: Ask the Editor

#128
Hello, is this still open? I'm currently writing a series and like to know an editor's opinion of it. The title is Descent, and it's in the signature. Would also like to hear your opinion of Cry Wolfe, also in the signature.

On other questions, what do you usually first look for while editing, and what tips to adhere/abide to with writing?

Thanks in advance. :)

Re: Ask the Editor

#129
Neruc Wrote: Hey, thanks for taking time out of your day to give us newbies your insight. Even beyond the answers you give it helps soothe the first time jitters a lot to talk with an editor in a casual setting!

Well, I'll let you in on a little secret. :) One of the major reasons I'm on the site is to investigate web publishing as an industry. I can easily look at the top authors just by browsing Top Rated, Popular This Week, etc.; but they aren't likely to want to seek advice from me in the first place. Obviously, what they've got going now is working for them.

Doing Ask the Editor here means that I get other authors coming to me that I might not have noticed, which lets me look at a larger and more varied cross-section of Royal Road. Many of you are new authors, concerned that you're not as good as the most popular writers here (to which I remind you to look at the first chapters of many of those popular stories), and so there isn't as much for me to look at; but that in itself gives me data I wouldn't otherwise have, as new authors are looking to showcase what they like, and that tells me just as much about the audience as the industry itself. And make no mistake, audience matters to the industry, or else there would be no market.

So I'm actually getting some benefit out of this, beyond how much I enjoy teaching.

Neruc Wrote: My general request is pretty generic, if you can take a look at my story description, prologue & chapter 1 and what your advice and first impression are: https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/42016/two-collars

I have a few questions regarding the story that I think you should get a good impression of after reading the first chapter:
A)How descriptive would you have preferred it to be for the world and city the chapter took place in. I received feedback that said that the readers would have preferred more information and backstory but writing it in just feels awkward to me like it's drawing attention away from the main focus of the story which is the characters.


Your blurb is good, and just needs a few tweaks from where I sit.

* The blurb starts with the two core teachings on two separate lines, but with opening and closing quotation marks split across said lines. I recommend switching those to no quotation marks, with both lines italicized.
* "When Vermith awoke, he found him and his wife . . ." That should be himself.
* ". . . to serve as reminders for the terrible curse that was thrust upon them." When I read this line, I expect that it means I should already know the nature of the curse. Perhaps you should do some variant of "a" curse, rather than sound like you mean a curse already defined to the audience. It's a very minor point, though, so don't rush to change it. Think it over and select something that sounds good to you -- including what's already there.
* The blurb suddenly goes from how inseparable they were to how they're split up, with no explanation. I assume this means you want to save it for a reveal, but is there any way to indicate his wife's state of being? Especially considering this is a ten-year gap.
* If this is a caper novel, as indicated by the first chapter, then you'll need to adjust the blurb a bit to emphasize the different genre.

Your prologue works as a prologue, though after reading Chapter One I am tempted to tell you to save that for a flashback instead. Part of that is because if this is a caper story, then you're leading with the wrong start to the action. If I were working with a manuscript here (which is easier to move around than a web novel), I'd strongly recommend saving it for a flashback and instead putting in a prologue that could give an impression of how much time has passed -- such as a prologue showing him setting off with the intent to free his wife, and then we cut to ten years later.

As for the worldbuilding, I agree that you'd detract from the situation petty fast. You've got a lot going on in there. If you had focused in on just Collar rather than trying to take a semi-omniscient POV, then you'd have more room for impressions of the city just because you're sticking with one character's perspective. This is a major reason why omniscient POVs are so unpopular in the last several decades. Since the audience's imagination is always better than anything you can describe, a more intimate POV helps the audience identify with the character and then let that character's mood shape the description they receive, painting a much more vivid mental picture.

This is also important when writing prose caper stories, which this appears to be. Capers in prose are difficult. It's even more difficult in SF&F because you have to establish the rules of the setting. The best example of this that I've found is Timothy Zahn's Star Wars novel Scoundrels. The second best is Jim Butcher's Skin Game, which gets a severe demotion as an example just because it's book 15 in a series, while you can read Scoundrels even if you've never watched Star Wars. Sanderson's Mistborn is a more distant third, because the caper is . . . well, spoilers.

If it isn't primarily a caper novel, then you're sending mixed signals to your audience.

Neruc Wrote: B)The same question but for the magic system I suppose :hmm, these technical bits of the story

I didn't see much about it from the first chapter, so I can't answer that.

Neruc Wrote: C)The first chapter from my own analysis doesn't have a strong hook, if a hook at all. Is it acceptable to introduce the hook of the story in the prologue or story description and then start the first chapter immediately with the assumption that the reader already knows the hook, and therefore doesn't need to be reestablished?


If you do it right, yes. The hook isn't there to tell the reader about the story several chapters in. It's there to give the first few chapters the time to finish reeling said reader in. The hook catches attention, but that's all it does.

That said, if your hook is very different from what they go on to read, they'll be confused at best. One of the best ways to make a hook is to make a promise, and if you break that promise, your audience walks away and likely leaves bad ratings and reviews.

With that in mind, we move to your next concern:

Neruc Wrote: D)This question is super specific to my story, so here goes:

As you can probably tell, the first chapter & prologue are actually quite disconnected from the story description. At the moment, the "castle arc", the heist story that is going to take place over the course of the first 8 or so chapters (possibly less after editing), is meant as a in medias res introduction of the main character that displays his character traits, backstory and beliefs through the way he interacts in one of the missions he goes on. He is present in the first chapter, among the main cast, it's just that his identity is a secret until around chapter 3 or so. 

This introductory arc also sets up a few more characters that are relevant further on.

Once the introduction is done, the story is meant to move on to the "main" arc/story.

I feel like this is really risky, honestly, however I fell in love with some of the characters and set ups that were birthed as the natural writing process took place and wrestled control away from me, as it always does. :lmao

How likely is it that this kind of start can actually work? Can it work at all? Once the introduction is done, the setting's location changes quite a bit and a new "adventure" takes place, and I have absolutely no frame of reference if this is viable or if it's literary suicide that sinks the book before the "main" story can even get going.


If your next adventure doesn't feel like fantasy Leverage, then yes, it's very risky. You're setting a tone and making a promise, and then completely changing both on the audience.

Let's go back to the Dresden Files example. The series is noir urban fantasy, with lots of action. There are a few caper elements here and there, but then suddenly we get a full-blown caper novel which involves twists and counter-twists worthy of some of the best caper stories out there. It's not a caper series, but Butcher manages to pull this off for various reasons. One, he's firmly established the rules of the magic system (minus one rule, but that's a massive spoiler and a very minor rule), which means everyone reading it understands the rules of the caper itself better than with the typical Leverage episode, as the latter usually has to explain a lot of context regarding the client and the mark. In Skin Game, most of the major players are explained already, and everything else fits into that framework in some way.

In addition, the underlying framework of the whole series is a mystery, which is also the underlying framework of the caper story. Mystery format is a real thing, and every Dresden Files novel maps to it. Most of the stories are just cleverly disguised as fantasy action. It's really some brilliant plotting, which is why i so readily forgive the occasional slip-up he makes. It's a lot to manage and he does it better than the backseat writers commenting on Facebook would allow. (Seriously, I could tell you stories . . .)

However, your blurb and prologue (minus the last bit of the latter) don't signal a heist or anything like that. If you still start with a caper story and then move away from it, you're going to run into severe problems.

Oh, and side note: You should change the mention of Writathon in your blurb to say that you succeeded at the Spring 2021 Writathon Challenge. That way you not only tell everyone you have consistent output, but you also won't confuse Wing or anyone else come next Writathon.


Alex M Wrote: Hi, it would be great to get your thoughts on my first chapter. I went into it trying to accomplish three core things: a strong voice for Hump with a working class wizard vibe, a gritty d&d setting, and the theme of adventure. 

I've been writing for about six years now, any advice on specific areas that I could focus on improving would be much appreciated. If you make it into Chapter 2, a big part of my focus to improve was on dialogue and making characters feel like individuals.

(Part of why I do this is to help others as they read along, so I'm sorry to say that I already discussed several aspects of this in PM with Alex M. Much of it was about developmental issues, though, and so there were several major spoilers discussed in private. The rest of this is what I did not already discuss with him.)

Your blurb is short and to the point; if you want to signal a strong connection with D&D, then you'll want to say something about the party he forms later on. However, you also want to keep the focus on the spellbook, as it's your central device in the litRPG elements.

To help promote that D&D feel, I highly recommend finding some of the better D&D novels out there. Most of them were not published by Wizards of the Coast. In particular, I think that Elfshadow by Elaine Cunningham and Azure Bonds by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb would be helpful for the style you're going for. Obviously, a litRPG is different from a non-gamelit novel merely set in a game-based universe, but you're going for a much more subtle litRPG than normal for Royal Road and I think those two novels would be very useful for you to study. They hold up surprisingly well, too, despite being written for 2e.


kyfirow Wrote: I also really liked the blurb you made. Can I use it in my story? Didn't catch you policy on that.

Go right ahead. Anything I put here is for you all to take. I will almost certainly open a Patreon this fall, but I won't charge and anything I put on the forum can be considered for public use.

kyfirow Wrote: About grammar, I recently saw that a lot of authors use the ProWritingAid for help in that, but I've also seen concerns it kills the author's voice. So I wanted to know your opinion on these automatic grammar checkers.

I have little love for automatic grammar programs, because as I keep saying, English is not a programming language. (Look at this thread for more.) These programs can't take the nuances of prose fiction into account; they only check for what's known in linguistics as blackboard language, even though classrooms don't use blackboards much anymore. Language used in the classroom is often stilted and unnatural, lacking the casual nuances of everyday speech. Computers can't tell the difference, but humans can.

That said, they have greater value for a non-native speaker still learning the language. If you want to try using grammar checkers, then use them as a guide, not as a rule. If the program says you got something wrong and you can't understand why, ask an English-speaking friend about it. Learn the reason behind it, and then you'll be able to figure out if the rule actually applies to your story.

Zearth Wrote: Hello, is this still open?

Indeed it is! Though I'm out of time for tonight and have a busy week ahead of me, so this is mostly to let you know that I didn't overlook you. I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Re: Ask the Editor

#131
" but that in itself gives me data I wouldn't otherwise have, as new authors are looking to showcase what they like, and that tells me just as much about the audience as the industry itself. And make no mistake, audience matters to the industry, or else there would be no market."

Ah, that actually makes quite a bit of sense, though isn't the sample size from the thread pretty small, ignoring the obvious biases that the website has towards certain genres? Do you do these in other forums as well?

And please forgive the splash dash state of my reply, this is my fourth~ post on the website and I'm not sure how to properly quote posts yet. :lmao

So first off, your advice was actually eye-opening, especially your recommendation of changing the prologue and the perspective at the start of the chapter. It completely solves the issue I had with world-building and descriptions and it helps with contextualizing the main character and the kind of story this is going to be. That was incredibly helpful and I understand why people said that it's hugely important to work with editors with good synergy with the genres you want to write in. :lmao

Your advice and warning regarding the next adventure make complete sense, but it has me wondering a bit. I'm not sure how much you can weigh on this since this is touching on things that happen post chapter 1, but any advice and input is super welcome! You see, both adventures are about the main character trying to collect enough wealth to save his wife, but the context is different:

1) First adventure, the castle heist, is a techno-magic city (robots, magic) + cosmic horror (monsters + the curse infecting the main character) that constructs the main character's personality. The goal of the main character is to steal from the king and nobles.
2) Second adventure meanwhile takes place in a much more magical/mythical setting that climbs higher on a cosmic&cosmic horror setting that deconstructs the main character's personality. The goal of the main character is to steal from gods and peasants.

The goal is essentially the same, with a different setting. However, I am not sure how many caper elements both of them will have. Someone told me that even in the castle heist arc, the caper elements lessen and the story evolves into an epic, for the heist goes wrong, and the characters are thrust into a very hostile environment that they need to survive and escape, with only the main character still sticking to the goal of stealing the riches of the king.

With this kind of transition being in place, do you have any suggestions for the prologue and chapter 1 that would help indicate that this is not primarily a caper story? Also, I intend to write the second adventure as a sequel to the castle heist story, would this help "correct" expectations for the reader as they enter the second adventure since the story in the second book is naturally gonna start slower?

Also two minor questions: 
1) In the first chapter, how "distinct" were the voices of the characters in it? Did they stand out from each other?
2) How accepting are readers of stories with sequels in general? The very popular and successful series tend to have lots of sequels, but is that true for lower levels of popularity as well?

I don't really want to clog up your thread any further with questions regarding my story, would you be ok with me PM'ing you any further questions if I happen to have any?


Re: Ask the Editor

#132
I’m pretty sure I’ll regret showing my ignorance like this, lol.
As someone who has just started writing, I have actually no clue what an editor really does.
I feel like editing is the stuff I do once I’m done with a chapter, content-wise.
But that still seems like stuff the author himself would be best equipped to do?
A quick search came up with vague phrases like, ‘We help the writer to write the very best work they can’.
Someone, please enlighten me.

Re: Ask the Editor

#133
Hello again, everyone! I'm back. Sort of. Not back up to the rate of posting that I've managed the last several months, anyway, but I'll be coming through on this and other threads.

I can only respond to two posts tonight, though. I'll get back to you all again very soon.

Zearth Wrote: Hello, is this still open? I'm currently writing a series and like to know an editor's opinion of it. The title is Descent, and it's in the signature. Would also like to hear your opinion of Cry Wolfe, also in the signature.

On other questions, what do you usually first look for while editing, and what tips to adhere/abide to with writing?

Cry Wolfe feels like it was written by a different person compared to Descent. The former is very stilted, and feels like an uninspired translation of an otherwise interesting story. The problem is that showing you how to fix it is far too much to detail here. I'd suggest looking at horror short stories and seeing how they build suspense not just with the description but with the pacing of said description. I know you can do it, though, because of the other story.

Descent is very interesting, and has very good prose to it. You could use a little polishing, but it's very close to done and I think you could do very well with that story if you can keep to a good schedule.


Alex M Wrote: Thanks for all the advice, really appreciate all of your help! I'll be sure to have a look at those books that you recommended.

You're welcome.

Neruc and Tinim, I'll be with you shortly.

Re: Ask the Editor

#134
Second round!

Neruc Wrote: " but that in itself gives me data I wouldn't otherwise have, as new authors are looking to showcase what they like, and that tells me just as much about the audience as the industry itself. And make no mistake, audience matters to the industry, or else there would be no market."

Ah, that actually makes quite a bit of sense, though isn't the sample size from the thread pretty small, ignoring the obvious biases that the website has towards certain genres? Do you do these in other forums as well?


Well, those biases themselves give lots of data. In particular, despite the huge number of litRPG stories on this site, litRPGs make up a tiny fraction of the stories presented here. I'm not sure exactly why. It's possible that my earlier inexperience with litRPG stories (which gets less significant every day I spend on this site) has put off those authors; but it might also be that the Venn diagram of litRPG authors and authors who want my feedback in the first place just doesn't overlap as much as with more traditional fantasy, sci-fi, and horror.

And this thread does have that inherent bias: everyone who comments here wants my feedback. That might seem so self-evident that it appears redundant, but any editor will understand what I mean right away. We've all had authors who don't want to have real editing. They want someone who can fix their grammar errors and typos, not their writing issues. That's called copy editing (or proofreading in an academic context, but proofreading is something different in publishing; I'll explain that below in my reply to Tinim), and it's only a small part of editing. I usually compare an author who only wants copy editing and refuses to look at structural problems as like a home owner with electrical issues who just wants a new paint job.

I have a submission process that helps weed out those authors. It usually makes them very obvious, such as the author who literally said that I should agree that she didn't need to jump through those hoops, because she clearly didn't need it. Folks, my own wife had to do it, because it's not arbitrary; it actually helps fix initial problems regarding story structure, even for pantser authors (again, like my wife). Most freelance editors require a reading fee, which helps because even a nominal $5 fee has the psychological effect of making the author look over his or her story one more time to check it so they're not just wasting money; but I prefer that if you're going to give me money, you should get something of value in return, and the process means I don't need much compensation anyway.

(The process, by the way, is simple: an elevator pitch, plus a summary of the story that shows act structure in 400 words or less. That's not a walk in the park, but it makes you first detail what your best factors are, and then second forces you to figure out if you have any slow parts of your story that take up too much time. Most authors tell me that the summary is hard, but they can really see the benefits once it's done.)

So on this website, I have three main sources of study. There's this thread, where people seek me out; there are other threads, which I read through and notice trends; and then there are stories that I read on the site as a result of my own searches. Those are very different samples, and while I don't have the time to read every thread (much less every story), it's still giving me a lot of information.

And no, I'm not spending much time on other web novel sites. I need to, but I really don't have a huge amount of time and I'm spending a lot of it on Royal Road. I browsed through several sites before trying Royal Road, and this was by far the best in terms of quality, activity, culture, and my own personal interests. There are a couple others I've seen mentioned here that I hadn't found before, but I might have more time for a wider examination later.

Neruc Wrote: And please forgive the splash dash state of my reply, this is my fourth~ post on the website and I'm not sure how to properly quote posts yet. :lmao


On both desktop and mobile, if you click/tap "quote" at the end of a post, your screen will immediately scroll to the bottom and quote the entire post. If you add a couple of lines at the bottom, then you can scroll up again and click/tap "quote" again and another post will be added.

You can also select text in anyone's post; a small dialog box will pop up saying, again, "Quote." This will do the same thing, but only the selected text will be quoted. On mobile, this might be hidden by the default "Cut/Copy/Paste" dialog box, but you should be able to drag the latter out of the way. (I can on my phone.)

You can also do it manually. In the reply box at the bottom of the page, you'll see a row of icons. The last one (which looks like "< >") is View Source. This will show you the simple code used for the site. So in order to quote something, if you type the following without the spaces between the brackets: [ quote=NovelNinja ]Here's an example.[ /quote ], you get:

NovelNinja Wrote: Here's an example.


If you view the codes, you can quickly learn which code is for what. It's simpler to use the interface, but I've been on the Internet for nearly thirty years and I used to spend a huge chunk of my time in college with this exact code -- without the interface. I tend to write all my larger replies in the View Source setting. I'm old, cranky, and tend to yell at the interface to get off my digital lawn.

Okay, on to the actual editing portion of this show.

Neruc Wrote: So first off, your advice was actually eye-opening, especially your recommendation of changing the prologue and the perspective at the start of the chapter. It completely solves the issue I had with world-building and descriptions and it helps with contextualizing the main character and the kind of story this is going to be. That was incredibly helpful and I understand why people said that it's hugely important to work with editors with good synergy with the genres you want to write in. :lmao

This is true. I tend to work best with SF&F and mystery, but I've edited romance, horror, thriller, historical, and so on. They all have very different nuances, just like litRPG has nuances beyond its use of a system, and further nuances depending on whether the litRPG is fantasy, sci-fi, horror, or whatever.

Finding a good editor who works with your genre can be a trick, because a lot of freelancers will say they accept a particular genre but they're not that good at it. This is why I always say I specialize in SF&F, and so almost all of my cold clients (meaning not specifically referred by a previous client or a friend) are SF&F. I can do the rest, but I'm not always the best choice. I have occasionally referred a prospective client on to another editor for that very reason. Yes, I'm turning down business, but I don't want to give inferior service if I know someone else can do it better. (Which, like many successful businesses know, is a way to engender trust in addition to avoiding over-diversification.)

Neruc Wrote: Your advice and warning regarding the next adventure make complete sense, but it has me wondering a bit. I'm not sure how much you can weigh on this since this is touching on things that happen post chapter 1, but any advice and input is super welcome! You see, both adventures are about the main character trying to collect enough wealth to save his wife, but the context is different:

1) First adventure, the castle heist, is a techno-magic city (robots, magic) + cosmic horror (monsters + the curse infecting the main character) that constructs the main character's personality. The goal of the main character is to steal from the king and nobles.
2) Second adventure meanwhile takes place in a much more magical/mythical setting that climbs higher on a cosmic&cosmic horror setting that deconstructs the main character's personality. The goal of the main character is to steal from gods and peasants.

The goal is essentially the same, with a different setting. However, I am not sure how many caper elements both of them will have. Someone told me that even in the castle heist arc, the caper elements lessen and the story evolves into an epic, for the heist goes wrong, and the characters are thrust into a very hostile environment that they need to survive and escape, with only the main character still sticking to the goal of stealing the riches of the king.

With this kind of transition being in place, do you have any suggestions for the prologue and chapter 1 that would help indicate that this is not primarily a caper story?


Just as your current prologue doesn't match the caper elements of the first chapter, it also doesn't match a horror vibe. You'll want more internal dialog and to focus on Collar's own perceptions. This will help the audience identify with him in particular, rather than the group or the operation. Compare a show like Leverage with something like the original Alien. In the former, you identify with the team as a team, while in the latter you primarily follow along with Ripley. The pacing and manner of the narrative also builds a very different kind of suspense, where the former is about how they do it and the latter is something out there is going to kill everyone.

Neruc Wrote: Also, I intend to write the second adventure as a sequel to the castle heist story, would this help "correct" expectations for the reader as they enter the second adventure since the story in the second book is naturally gonna start slower?

By itself, as a sequel, it won't; but if you set the right tone in the first book, you'll get a gradual build to that conclusion.

For example, my wife is writing a sci-fi police procedural, set in a future solar system with very fast travel between planets but no interstellar colonization. While Earth itself is still divided into individual nations, the solar system is pretty much ruled by the Interplanetary Commonwealth. Over the course of the novels, we see more and more corruption in the system parliament, to the point that a rebellion starts kicking off toward the end of the series. My wife felt that it was the natural outgrowth of the story, and I agree; but the series is billed as a crime drama, and turning it into a war story would break a promise to the audience. We had to figure out a different way to handle it; there's still a revolution, but we added in a sufficiently epic crime drama for the main characters to focus on with the war story as a combination backdrop and ticking time bomb.

Similarly, you'll need to make certain that the series matches the promise you make at the outset. In our case, we tweaked the endgame to bring it back in line. It sounds like you need to adjust your opening to match the end.

Neruc Wrote: In the first chapter, how "distinct" were the voices of the characters in it? Did they stand out from each other?

It's been a couple of weeks, so I don't recall the specifics; but I'm quite confident that they do because I would have mentioned it if I thought they blurred together. I do remember that the guy standing with Collar felt three-dimensional; to a certain extent, more so, but that's to be expected with how you're clearly building up to something with the latter.

Neruc Wrote: How accepting are readers of stories with sequels in general? The very popular and successful series tend to have lots of sequels, but is that true for lower levels of popularity as well?

Series have been the norm for decades now precisely because readers like investment. This only got stronger with ebooks and online ordering of dead-tree copies, because now you're pretty much guaranteed that you can collect all the books. These days I mostly see series even with new authors, and stand-alone books are rare at all levels in SF&F.

It's far less common in horror, because once you wrap up the first scary thing, you've established what it is. The suspense is always lower. Let's take a direct comparison between the Weeping Angels of Doctor Who and the xenomorphs of the Alien franchise. In the former, the Angels get directly defined at the end of their first appearance. It's an absolutely brilliant work of horror as a standalone story, but the moment you bring them in again they're not as scary. Meanwhile, the xenomorph was not defined in Alien, and they successfully increased both the stakes and the threat in the sequel Aliens. Fortunately, they didn't do any more, because that would have ruined the presentation. I mean, I know there's a rumor that there were other movies in the series, but obviously those were cheap fakes. (That's my story and we're stickin' to it.)

Neruc Wrote: I don't really want to clog up your thread any further with questions regarding my story, would you be ok with me PM'ing you any further questions if I happen to have any?

I don't mind further questions here. It's also more guaranteed that you'll get responses from me just because I will always go through everyone's posts in turn. PMs might fall off my radar. If you have something you're less comfortable transmitting in the clear, then go ahead and use private messages.


Tinim Wrote: I’m pretty sure I’ll regret showing my ignorance like this, lol.
As someone who has just started writing, I have actually no clue what an editor really does.
I feel like editing is the stuff I do once I’m done with a chapter, content-wise.
But that still seems like stuff the author himself would be best equipped to do?
A quick search came up with vague phrases like, ‘We help the writer to write the very best work they can’.
Someone, please enlighten me.

The stupidest question is the one left unasked. The stupidest person is the one who never asks.

As I mentioned above in this post, copy editing (what most people call proofreading because of something I'll explain in a moment) is only part of what an editor does. I actually do very little copy editing myself. I focus on what's called developmental editing and line editing.

Proofreading, in publishing, is almost entirely a print thing. You have to do some of it with ebooks and even HTML publishing like here on Royal Road, but compared to printing on dead trees it's not really a thing. With paper, you have to make certain the margins are correct, the formatting is consistent, any images and footnotes are in the right place, and so on. A proofreader isn't an editor, though we often mention it in the same breath because it's often part of the editing process and the editor in charge of the book still has to approve the final copy (or the author, in the case of a self-published work). The old term for the test print that the proofreader goes over is literally the proof -- ergo, a proofreader.

Copy editing is where you go over the work for grammar, typos, and narrative consistency. If the work suddenly shifts focus, a copy editor would notice and detail it, but wouldn't change any of that. It's the lowest tier of true editing and the one that the largest number of people are capable of doing. Your aunt who's a stickler for grammar is probably a really good copy editor. My father is a retired lawyer and when it comes to writing interesting fiction, he's, well, he's really good at writing legal briefs (he asked me to rewrite an op/ed he wrote for the New York Times for that reason, and boy did it need it); but he's actually a better copy editor than I'll ever be.

However, copy editing is different depending on whether you're working with fiction or nonfiction, especially academic nonfiction. This is where most people call it "proofreading," because a lot of academic copy editing really is what a proofreader will do. For fiction, though, it's far more complex. Academic English is stilted, formal, and exacting, because it's meant to communicate clear ideas. For ordinary English prose, though, you need to be entertaining and play around with both the visuals on the page and the sound when it's read out loud. A strict copy edit won't fix any of those issues, but when copy-editing fiction the editor must be aware of the nuances of English outside the halls of academia. A lot of people can't make that particular jump.

My wife, for example, was the popularly-crowned Queen of the Writing Center in college, and was the fastest and most accurate of them all (even over her class valedictorian, the second-best writing center guru). There were people who would absolutely refuse to work with any other person. I saw this first hand, as I was working at the library reference desk right next door and frequently helping students refine their papers who then went straight to see her. She was so steeply entrenched in this that when she started writing the first draft of her now-published sci-fi book, she couldn't stand to use contractions in narration. The characters used contractions, but the rest was in academic English. When she finished and read through the whole thing, she realized it was so stilted as to be unreadable, and so her first round of self-edits was to correct for academic English. When I finally went over it myself, there were still a lot of moments of academic English in it, but it was just stuff she hadn't caught. She'd understood the difference all along; she'd just had a hard time stepping out of her Writing Center queendom.

That brings me to line editing, which is what most people hire me to do. Line editing is where an editor goes beyond simple corrections and into rewriting things for you. This is tricky, because in addition to needing an excellent command of colloquial English as used in prose fiction, the editor also has to match the author's voice. I've had eleven years of professional experience, and many more years of experience trying to match others' voices (particularly when trying to help college friends write papers), and I can still easily screw that part up.

Line editing goes beyond the Grammarly style of "consider using stronger language"; it involves helping you figure out a better sequence of events in a scene, realize that you need X to happen here to help build up the tension or maintain the pacing, or identifies that Y is superfluous and needs to be removed. It's about helping you turn an important moment into a quotable one-liner, or showing you a better way to bring a tear to the eye.

Line editing is hard, and editors will usually draw the line at light editing. In my case, I frequently do medium-level line editing, with rare spots of heavy editing. If I do lots of heavy line editing, I start getting very involved in the story, and I lose my objectivity. That's an essential tool, because even though it's not the most important skill of an editor, if we lose our objectivity we can't edit effectively. An author always knows what he or she meant to say, and so always needs and editor; and if we start getting involved that much in helping the author to rewrite it, we start falling into the same trap. I've done that several times and it's always a disaster.

Lastly, there's developmental editing. This is what I'm best at, even though many authors don't come to me until after they've already written the book. Developmental editing is the big picture of the story: crafting the overall pacing, helping with research, creating characters and worldbuilding, figuring out where the twists and turns need to go. In most cases it's easiest to do while the book is still being written, but -- understandably -- most authors are reluctant to pay a few hundred dollars for edits on something that hasn't even been written yet. I've also lost count of how many of those same authors feel regret for not coming to me sooner.

Here's an example of a book I edited. A major part of the novel involved a court case, and the author wrote some stuff for that and basically said "I can fill this in later." The author had already worked with me and knew I could help, but her process meant she needed to write the whole book first. (She's said multiple times that she knows it would be better if I got involved sooner, but she just can't write if anyone other than her husband knows the details until it's all done.) Sadly, she knew even less about court procedures than if she'd first watched a Law & Order marathon. Now, she's given me permission to talk about the mistakes only in a particular context (for the students at the college I lecture at, not for a general audience), but suffice to say that it took a full week of ten-hour days, much of it corresponding in person and by phone and email with two different prosecutors in two different states, to fix just the courtroom issues. And that was maybe a sixth of the book. The author had originally expected me, based on previous activity, to be done with it in about three weeks. It took almost seven. Definitely some of my best work, though far from my favorite book.

A major reason why these editing nuances are hard to understand for new authors is that, if we do our jobs, you can't tell. You'd have to do a side-by-side comparison of an older copy to figure out how it's changed. If the edits are obvious, then the editor failed. It's like an electrician leaving the wires in your house exposed. Even if we list every single book we've ever worked on, how would you know what we did on them? We can't keep a portfolio like an artist or a bibliography like an author. Our work is, by definition, invisible.

And another reason is that the overlap between "good editor" and "good teacher" is pretty narrow. In my case, though, I love teaching, so I relish these moments where I can explain writing. I used to blog a lot, but due to a lot of life issues I fell out of the habit. Being on Royal Road has helped me rediscover how fun it is to sit down and explain how writing (and editing) works.

Re: Ask the Editor

#135
I've been chatting with several editors/fellow writers as of late, but I'd love to hear your opinion on something I've been bouncing off many other boards:

How much stuff should actually happen in a story? I've never managed to figure that part out — though I've been studying prose and pacing and characters and whatever for the longest time, I've always had an empty hole when it comes to trying to plot. Could never quite tell how much raw content you should have between beats for things to not feel super rushed, especially in the context of writing epics and the like.

Alternatively, figuring out how stuff should happen is hard. Brain hurt. Head empty. No thoughts. How do?

Re: Ask the Editor

#136

John Wrote: I've been chatting with several editors/fellow writers as of late, but I'd love to hear your opinion on something I've been bouncing off many other boards:

How much stuff should actually happen in a story? I've never managed to figure that part out — though I've been studying prose and pacing and characters and whatever for the longest time, I've always had an empty hole when it comes to trying to plot. Could never quite tell how much raw content you should have between beats for things to not feel super rushed, especially in the context of writing epics and the like.

Alternatively, figuring out how stuff should happen is hard. Brain hurt. Head empty. No thoughts. How do?

Epics tend to be big (thus the recent use of "epic" to mean "large," rather than "a story dealing with themes of national importance and martial valor" which is what I learned in school back in the days before I had to keep yelling at kids to get off my lawn), so they tend to use more words between your typical plot milestones. These days, I tend to look at them in terms of percentages so that no one (me, author, or classroom) gets bogged down with exact page numbers. 

For example, after roughly 50% of your book, you should have a midpoint. This might be a little earlier or a little later. It doesn't have to be exactly in the middle of the book, just close enough. Similarly, your transition to act two should be at about the 25% mark, and act three should begin around 75%. There are plenty of examples of books that delay something. If you look at Star Wars: A New Hope, you hit the midpoint at exactly 1:00:35 in an almost exactly two-hour movie. (Yes, I have that memorized. It's one of the most popular movies of all time, and so makes for excellent classroom examples.) However, instead of act two starting at thirty minutes in, it's around forty minutes. Is that bad? No! The pacing is actually quite good, because the formula isn't an exact science. It's just a guide. You're creating art, and every work of art is different. 

The format I usually show divides a story up into twenty points of 5% each. Since I already made it clear that a good story can futz with that timing, you know not to use it as a law of physics. It's just a guide on where you might want to put things when outlining or when refining a draft. 

Pacing in a web novel is a little different from a trad novel in that you have less tolerance for inconsistent levels of action between chapters. In a trad novel, which theoretically most people are reading continuously, it's sometimes a good idea to have chapters of high action spaced with chapters of exposition, even contemplation. In a web novel, your theoretical audience is primarily reading it one chapter at a time, so even a daily update means alternating fast- and slow-paced chapters can risk something seeming too slow, especially in a more action-oriented plot. What you want to do is make certain that, regardless of how much octane you're injecting into the story, the audience is always looking forward to the next page. 

Easier said than done, right? But there are ways to do it. I was recently talking about narrative drive in another thread. I need to go back there with specific examples, but epics in particular lean on the interwoven plot example I laid out there. Every time you shift perspective, you leave them wanting more of that perspective; then the audience gets invested in the alternate perspective because they're ready to read more in the first place, and once invested the cycle can keep going each time you shift. Sanderson's Elantris is a good example, since every chapter switches to one of three POVs in the same cycle, and there are rarely any dud transitions. 

Let's say you're writing a novel with installments of between 2500 and 3k words per chapter. For an epic, you're going to need a minimum of around 400 pages, which means at that rate you're going to need roughly 40 chapters. Most epics in recent years have been even longer. Consistent chapters will mean a balancing act. Epics also have to impart a lot of worldbuilding through the story itself, rather than infodumping it all on the page. Some people can get away with that (David Weber is an excellent example because I can break down why it works, and make it obvious why you shouldn't try to copy him), but most people are better off seeding the information throughout the action because most audiences are not there for the worldbuilding. If you want to write about a setting, write an RPG manual. 

The short version of all of this is that when your development is uneven across multiple chapters, then you need to either delete something or insert something else. Overall pacing matters. 

If you give me more specific examples, I can probably give more specific guidance. It's an art, not a science. I risk making it too confusing or too general if I go any further right now. However, I will give you the following points I cover in my plot lecture (which I will probably give for Royal Road members in exchange for donations sometime after Ninja Baby #2 is born). You can use this to determine if your pacing is even. 

5%: Finish opening, establish status quo ante. 
10%: Catalyst introduced. 
15%: Problem described. 
20%: Problem encountered. 
25%: First transition (Act 2). 
30%: First pinch. 
35%: Sense of urgency. 
40%: Gather allies, secure tools, make plans. 
45%: New information. Failure to understand something. 
50%: Midpoint. Problem changes. 
55%: Obstacles intensify. 
60%: Review events. 
65%: Reveal secrets. 
70%: Second pinch. 
75%: Second transition (Act 3). 
80%: Sacrifice. 
85%: Resolve subplot/Plot B. 
90%: Final confrontation. 
95%: Finish climax. Begin denouement. 
100%: Finish denouement. 

These terms get expanded in the actual presentation, so I'm not sure how helpful they will be at the moment. 

Re: Ask the Editor

#137
I was mainly poking around for generalist info. I find what people come up with without being presented with specific stimuli the most interesting since you get to know their perspective and how they think through their given explanation.

I know there are many different plot structures and as many different styles as there are civilizations underneath the sun, but I'm very curious about one thing: do you have any favorite plot structures ya like to default to in particular, or are you just a sort of wing-it guy and can adapt to any work you're editing on? I'm planning on selling my services as an editor soon after I finish another stint of writing, so I'm mainly just poking your brainpan for random answers. It's interesting, though!


Re: Ask the Editor

#139

John Wrote: I was mainly poking around for generalist info. I find what people come up with without being presented with specific stimuli the most interesting since you get to know their perspective and how they think through their given explanation.

I know there are many different plot structures and as many different styles as there are civilizations underneath the sun, but I'm very curious about one thing: do you have any favorite plot structures ya like to default to in particular, or are you just a sort of wing-it guy and can adapt to any work you're editing on? I'm planning on selling my services as an editor soon after I finish another stint of writing, so I'm mainly just poking your brainpan for random answers. It's interesting, though!

Plot structures are far more useful for an author than an editor, and unless you're hired for a developmental edit there's little point in using them. Not everyone wants a developmental edit, so you have to always ensure they do before you handle any of that. For that matter, not everyone understands what line editing means. Many writers think that an edit is just copy editing, nothing more. 

When doing a developmental edit, I'll check it against the list I showed earlier. If it's significantly off, I know I need more work. I always do free evaluations (no reading fees; if someone gives me money they should get something in return) and it's simple enough to check that during the initial evaluation. It only varies with one genre: mystery. Everything else, from heroic fantasy to space opera to romance, can fit along that twenty-point outline when you know how to do the adjustments in your head. Mystery is sufficiently different that I use a modified version for that. As Chesterton said a hundred years ago, the detective story is the only story where the audience wants to feel like fools. Even when they manage to see the solution, you want that moment of clarity to come so close to the end that they wonder, "Why didn't I see that sooner!?" In fact, the ideal mystery story gives the audience everything they need to solve the puzzle well in advance, but sufficiently disguised that they should only see it half a page before the detective reveals the solution. That simultaneous flash of awe, chagrin, and wonder is what makes the mystery genre successful in the first place. 

More generally, yes, I wing a lot of my edits. All good editors do. It's an art, not a science. You have to know what will improve the narrative and presentation with the greatest effect for the least change. The more you change it, the less it's still the author's work. That means for medium to heavy line edits, you need to learn to adapt to the author's style. You'll never do it perfectly, but the closer you get the better. That way, the author can more easily tweak it to his or her own voice rather than feel lost under the weight of editing the editor's edits. You never want your client to feel that they haven't come out ahead. 

Seersucker Wrote: Hello, I was just hoping to get you opinion of my first chapter and blurb. My story "Armor" is linked in my signature.

This is very intriguing. Your prose is good enough that I'd have to do specific edits to help you improve, other than one piece of advice. That is to always remember to note who is speaking, including with internal monologues. Several times you've had multiple characters sharing the same paragraph; once, right after the troll fight, it looks like you had three characters speaking in the same paragraph. 


Always assign one paragraph to one character; if that character's actions directly influence another in the middle of the first character's actions (such as "Don't!" He stopped and looked at me, startled. "It's a trap!") it's rarely worth splitting it into three paragraphs; but you still want to make it clear that the first character "owns" that dialog. ("Don't!" I shouted. He stopped and looked at me, startled. I waved at him, frantic. "It's a trap!") You also want to reduce the number of words used for another character inside the first character's paragraph or expand the words used by the first character, just to keep it clear. ("Don't!" I shouted. He froze and looked at me, and I frantically waved him back. "It's a trap!")

I like the armor's difficulty processing emotions, and wanted to know when he would finally be revealed. I'll continue reading later. 

Beyond that, your blurb needs more meat to it. Since the twist of the armor continuing outside the dungeon happens in the first chapter, you shouldn't make it so vague. I'd recommend the following: 

I was created as the ultimate dungeon trap: a living suit of armor that devours any adventurer who dons me. My master created me for his entertainment, leading them to ruin and betraying them at the last moment. This time will be no different. 

Or so I thought. 

You still need more meat to it, but I'd have to read more to see if anything else pops up. Good first chapter, so you just need a good blurb to hook in readers. 

Re: Ask the Editor

#140

NovelNinja Wrote:
Seersucker Wrote: Hello, I was just hoping to get you opinion of my first chapter and blurb. My story "Armor" is linked in my signature.

This is very intriguing. Your prose is good enough that I'd have to do specific edits to help you improve, other than one piece of advice. That is to always remember to note who is speaking, including with internal monologues. Several times you've had multiple characters sharing the same paragraph; once, right after the troll fight, it looks like you had three characters speaking in the same paragraph. 


Always assign one paragraph to one character; if that character's actions directly influence another in the middle of the first character's actions (such as "Don't!" He stopped and looked at me, startled. "It's a trap!") it's rarely worth splitting it into three paragraphs; but you still want to make it clear that the first character "owns" that dialog. ("Don't!" I shouted. He stopped and looked at me, startled. I waved at him, frantic. "It's a trap!") You also want to reduce the number of words used for another character inside the first character's paragraph or expand the words used by the first character, just to keep it clear. ("Don't!" I shouted. He froze and looked at me, and I frantically waved him back. "It's a trap!")

I like the armor's difficulty processing emotions, and wanted to know when he would finally be revealed. I'll continue reading later. 

Beyond that, your blurb needs more meat to it. Since the twist of the armor continuing outside the dungeon happens in the first chapter, you shouldn't make it so vague. I'd recommend the following: 

I was created as the ultimate dungeon trap: a living suit of armor that devours any adventurer who dons me. My master created me for his entertainment, leading them to ruin and betraying them at the last moment. This time will be no different. 

Or so I thought. 

You still need more meat to it, but I'd have to read more to see if anything else pops up. Good first chapter, so you just need a good blurb to hook in readers.



Thank you for reading it! I made some edits to the first chapter, but my time to work on it today was limited so I may give it another look over. Your advice is definitely helpful, I've had comments about the first chapters clarity before and I think that what you've suggested really helps. 

I liked your version of the blurb quite a lot, so I wound up copying it almost word for word, though I may give it another pass when I have more time.

I appreciate your interest too! I can't tell you what'll happen when his party realizes what he is, but I can tell you it may be a bit of a wait until then. Hopefully it'll hold your interest until then.