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Authors


MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world’s expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .


SASHA TROYAN is a Professor of English at Montclair University and author of the critically-acclaimed novels Angels in the Morning and The Forgotten Island, both Booksense Selections, beautiful stories based upon her childhood in France. I worked with Troyan to develop her new novels, Marriage A Trois and Semester. Read more. . .


LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .


BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by Pan Macmillan. Read more. . .


SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I’m working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .


SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .


M. TERRY GREEN enjoys a successful self-publishing career with multiple sci-fi/fantasy series set in the Multiverse, based upon her expertise in anthropology and technology. I worked with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .


DARREN D. BEYER is an ex-NASA experiment engineer who has worked on every Space Shuttle orbiter but Challenger. In his sci-fi Anghazi Series, Beyer uses his scientific expertise to create a galaxy in which “space bridges” allow interstellar travel based upon the latest in real theoretical physics. Read more. . .


ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny’s debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .


STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield’s second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .


GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans’ fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .


JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .


LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez’ debut novel The Shoebox and second novel The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .


JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff’s abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .


LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star. Read more. . .


ALEX KENDZIORSKI is an American physician working in South Africa on community health education and wildlife conservation. I edited Kendziorski’s debut novel Wait a Season for Their Names about the endangered African painted wolf, for which he is donating the profits to wildlife conservation. Read more. . .


ALEXANDRA GODFREY blogs for the New England Journal of Medicine. I work with Godfrey on her short fiction and narrative nonfiction, including a profile of the doctor who helped save her son’s life, “Mending Broken Hearts.” Read more. . .


In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.

  • By Victoria Mixon

    Last week we talked about reasons to love Melville Davisson Post, the great nineteenth-century mystery author of the backwoods of Virginia. In case you’re new here, that conversation was caused by a post I did that was all lurid, over-the-top covers of vintage mysteries. And that post was caused by Sabine in the comments on an even earlier post when I was interviewed by the extraordinarily strange and wonderful Rachel X Russell (see how I get cause-&-effect worked into everything I tell you?).

    So this post is dedicated to Donna Montgomery, who spoke up in the comments to recommend Rafael Sabatini.

    I ran right out and got a copy of Sabitini’s marvelous 400-page novel, Scaramouche.

    Whoa, Sabatini.

    1. Rafael

      First off, I happen to think this is one of the most beautiful names ever. If I hadn’t already had a name ready for my son twenty years before he was born, I’d have named him Rafael. I did put a Rafael into a story once—a charismatic and lovable rascal—but it’s not finished yet. He’s still busy being charismatic and lovably rascally.

    2. Historical setting

      Just like Davisson Post, Sabitini was master of his era. However, unlike Davisson Post, Sabitini didn’t live through the historical times or anywhere near the times he portrayed in this novel. He apparently grew up in Italy and England at the end of the nineteenth century—raised by opera singers—and spoke six languages.

      The setting of Scaramouche is late eighteenth-century France. . .that’s right: the French Revolution.

      This is the world of Victor Hugo and Les Miserables. However, Sabitini makes it entirely his own through the fabulous attention to authentic detail and the excruciating moral rack upon which he puts his protagonist, the lawyer and aristocrat Andre-Louis. I learned more about the French Revolution from following Andre-Louis’ adventures through the tangled underground of proletariat revolt (aided, according to Sabitini, by the king himself against the aristocracy) than I ever got out of a history book.

      Granted, Marie Antoinette gets a decidedly bum rap from Sabitini, as she has gotten through the history books as well, although there is now some question about exactly how dastardly she was and, contrariwise, how easy it was to scapegoat her for being a foreigner during a time in which the French were already doing quite well destroying their own proletariat without any help from outsiders at all.

      But it doesn’t matter.

      Because Scaramouche is a rollicking, rolling, high-quality literary tale of hair-raising adventure through one of the most significant and world-changing events of recent centuries.

      And nobody’s ever going to agree about Marie Antoinette anyway.

    3. Theatrical players

      And this I love so much, because Andre-Louis acquires his nickname Scaramouche when he joins a troupe of traveling theatrical players and takes on the role of the archetypical ‘little skirmisher,’ as explained by the theatrical director: with “the gift of sly intrigue, an art of setting folk by the ears, combined with an impudent aggressiveness upon occasion when he considers himself safe from reprisals.”

      Do you recognize this archetype?

      I do.

      The Native Americans called him Coyote, the Trickster. The Scandanavians called him Loki. The ancient Greeks called him Eros. Even during the Middle Ages, medieval courts always came equipped with their jester, the quintessential Fool of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

      Now whenever I find myself frustrated by those who seem interested only in disrupting the joyous-but-serious work that we do here in the writing community, those who would throw cold water on our efforts to help craftspeople develop literary craft, who seemingly-deliberately take our sense of humor for insulting challenge and hard-won advice for penny-ante poker. . .I remind myself:

      Life is a very mysterious place.

      The gods may simply be messing with us.

      Scaramouche, Scaramouche, can you do the fandango?

    4. Freddie Mercury

      And of course I couldn’t get through this without mentioning him.

      If there was ever a Scaramouche for our poor and benighted, dark and dour, painfully-cynical and utterly-confused age, it was the exuberant queen of Queen.

      The other night, my husband and I sang the entire “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the top of our lungs (okay, at the top of my lungs) while cooking dinner for our son, who said sweetly when we were finished, “I would have suggested we just play the record, but you seemed to be having so much fun.”

      Must we forever be tilting at windmills, Freddie—our lives un-spared of monstrosities, trapped between Beelzebub and getting our lips to our babies, just got to get out, just got to get right out of here. . .

      . . .any way the wind blows?

    Yes. We must. They must.

    And then we must create art about it.

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  • By Victoria Mixon

    Last week I tossed at you a bunch of gorgeous exposition by Melville Davisson Post, to make you all sit in front of your computers with the goofy smiles of enlightenment plastered across your faces. But! I’m not done yet. Today I’m going to continue with the avalanche of brilliance. Because I love you (and Davisson Post) just that much.

    • Some love truth less than they love laurels.

    • If a ghost rides my way, it stops right here or it goes under to hell.

    • I’d be glad if scientists would explain why the evening in autumn always recalls the lost Kingdom of the Little.

    • Hatred is a force pressing out the empty places of the heart & making simple people crafty.

    • Sharp & jarring & without premonition are the surprises of youth.

    • If a horse tramps peacefully, the land is certainly clear of any evil thing.

    • I had ridden out of youth’s golden country & lost one of the most splendid illusions of that enchanted land.

    • After sunset, we are under the world yet, with only yellow haze shining through the door of the sky.

    • The crooked elves toil with their backs against the golden moon.

    • Aid is to be had from the great earth when one’s heart is very deeply troubled.

    • Twilight is the acre of ghosts.

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  • By Victoria Mixon

    Today I’m going to throw at you some exposition: how do you do it right? how do you do it wrong? do you want to do it at all? I’m going to toss regular posts right out the window and just blow your mind with a bunch of gorgeous, classical, profound exposition by one of the great masters of the English language, the magnificent Melville Davisson Post.

    • The bracing influence of a holy cause has been tremendously overrated.

    • Hatred is big when one is young.

    • The terrible justice of good faith & fair dealing is but dimly understood.

    • Dismount & sit on the earth whenever you have grave matters to consider.

    • Slowly arrange the proper sequence of a distant memory.

    • A taunt sinks in as oil sinks into cloth.

    • How cruelly it hurts, the first jamming against the granite door-posts of the world.

    • The loneliness of the vast, empty earth—forgotten in the rush of sunshine—is the constant loom of the mystery.

    • Who can say what might climb up over the rim of the world?

    • Against the strange shapes of darkness, an axe is but a little weapon.

    • I wish you a happy voyage to the cloud island.

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  • By Victoria Mixon

    Once I did a post that was almost nothing but the covers of fabulous vintage mysteries and a list of some of my favorite vintage authors. And that post was in response to a question asked by Sabine on an earlier post about being interviewed by the fabulous and hilarious Rachel X Russell.

    So I’m dedicating today’s post to Elisabeth Grace Foley, who spoke up in the comments to recommend the nineteenth-century authors Anna Katherine Green and Melville Davisson Post.

    I already knew about Green—although I had not read her (shame on me)—but Davisson Post’s name was a new one. So I immediately ran out and bought Uncle Abner, Master of Mysteries: A Collection of Classic Detective Stories.

    But first I had the following conversation with my husband:

    Me: Uncle Abner? Are you kidding me? The cartoon character?

    My husband: I don’t think it was a cartoon about mysteries.

    Me: So this Davisson Post had a whole other double life—how brilliant is that?

    My husband: Except Davisson Post was apparently born in 1869, and the L’il Abner cartoon ran until the 1970s.

    Me: Holy crap! Talk about longevity!

    Eventually he convinced me that Uncle Abner and L’il Abner were not the same character. And I started reading the mysteries.

    Oh, so wonderful. . .

    1. Doomdorf

      Anyone who can invent a name like Doomdorf has me on their side automatically. Now I’m in a terrible quandary because I desperately want to write a ghost story about a house called Doomdorf, but that name is already taken.

      Watch for a novel called Dorfdoom.

    2. Historical setting

      Davisson Post was born only a few years after the end of the Civil War and lived his life in the back hills of Virginia, the land he knew so well and about which he wrote so vividly.

      His characters and stories ring true to life because they’re filled to the brim with details, habits, etiquette, and assumptions that could only possibly work in a world shaped entirely around them.

      When Uncle Abner and the boy-narrator ride through snow falling like great, grey, almost-sinister objects to cling to the branches of trees until they break, and they come upon a dilapidated old mansion with a single light burning, and they bang the knocker. . .the reader is not surprised that their reply is a gun report and splinters of wood flying through the door around them.

      We are purely delighted—here, indeed, is a mystery worth investigating!

      And when the narrator refers casually to the “disastrous failure of Prince Charles Edward Stuart to set up his kingdom in Scotland,” resulting in an influx of Scottish settlers in these Virginia hills whose ways and by-words Uncle Abner must understand in order to bring justice to a girl being married off against her will. . .again we are not surprised.

      Because Davisson Post speaks with such utter, detailed authority of his material, we are on the edge of our seats to learn what terrible secrets might lie hidden among these expatriates so far from home!

      And when the countryside teems with haggard women plaiting thorns to hide the wounds on their hands, and mortgages that can bought with gold coins in order to be forgiven, and insane old men who laugh demonically over having murdered abolitionists who would steal away their slaves. . .then we know we are not in our modern, automated, technological world at all.

      We are in Davisson Post country.

    3. Punch lines

      But what makes Davisson Post’s stories live on indelibly in the reader’s mind is not even all this—although we might think this would be enough.

      It is that each story ends on its punch line.

      And then stops.

      This is high art, my friends. This is the perfect design for which we each, in our many and various approaches to storytelling, are always seeking.

    4. Literary wisdom

      It is a law of the story-teller’s art that they do not tell a story. It is the listener who tells it. The story-teller does but provide them with the stimuli.
      —Melville Davisson Post, “The Doomdorf Mystery”

      If you study these lines long enough and hard enough, you’ll learn from them everything you’ll ever need to know about creating literature.

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  • By Victoria Mixon

    Today I’m answering two questions from long-time writer Diana Rubino on Victoria’s Advice Column:

    1) “I’m reading Art & Craft of Writing Stories, in which you say, ‘the protagonist must have two mutually-exclusive needs.’ I’ve learned that the protag must have a need, a goal, and that has to be thwarted, over and over. But I’ve never heard this before. Does having two needs give the story or protag more depth? Are the two needs external one and internal to parallel the ext. and int. conflicts?” Read more. . .

    2) “You say in Art & Craft of Writing Stories, ‘What do you suppose happened here? How could these needs have led somewhere else? How could my char have responded to their problems differently, given their fundamental driving forces?’ However, after the story’s been outlined and plotted, we know our protag inside out, so why add a something else? Wouldn’t that be another story altogether?” Read more. . .

    These are both excellent questions, so I’m glad Diana asked them!

    Come on over to the Advice Column today and learn the answers here and here.

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  • By Victoria Mixon

    Happy New Year, everybody!

    I want to do something a little different this year, and that is share with you the joy of rejection. I know this sounds smart-aleck, but I am absolutely serious. Last fall I queried a top literary agent with a new novel, waited my obligatory six weeks, and received the kindest form rejection I have ever seen.

    And you know the kicker? I actually forgot to include the SASE. I know. I woke up in the middle of the night 72 hours later in a cold sweat when I realized what I’d done. So this top literary agent not only had the great courtesy to send me a kind rejection letter (although it has become the norm these days for agents to simply dispense with rejection letters altogether), but she provided her own envelope and stamp.

    That’s what I call a class act.

    So I want to share my rejection letter with you. I want you to know that this is part of the process of becoming published—not only writing, editing, and revising, but also being rejected. I am probably the world’s laziest querent, as I love the writing, editing, and revising part but almost never bother querying. However, I do do it every once in awhile. And when I do, I generally ignore my own advice about being patient with revision and send out a manuscript that is not yet ready to be accepted. Then I get busy editing and forget about querying it, even after I’ve done another revision.

    It is truly a kindness in agents and publishers to reject a manuscript that is not ready.

    Dear Author,

    Thank you for writing to me about your project. I apologize that it has taken me so long to get back to you! I’m so sorry for the impersonal response, I hate to do this. Our agency used to respond directly to each query, but the letters have now reached a volume that is frankly unmanageable. Writing a good book or proposal is among the hardest things in the world to do; I promise, we’re not unsympathetic! You have our word that we are reading every single query letter that comes our way, but from now on, we’re only responding personally if we’re sufficiently curious and would like to read further. I’ve been focusing on maintaining my current list for the last few years and can only make an exception for the rare book for which I am completely over-the-top enthusiastic.

    I do encourage you to continue developing and submitting until you find the perfect home for your work—it’s out there! Along those lines, I wish you the very best.

    Take care.

    So do not despair, dear writers!

    Rejection comes to us all.

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  • By Victoria Mixon

    Today we’re at Write to Done talking about the only thing that truly matters in fiction:

    The 2 Secrets to Creating Unforgettable Character

    These are the two secrets that I’ve been teaching to my editing clients for the past nine years. Now you can learn them too.

    Please come on over and join the conversation! Who are YOUR favorite unforgettable characters? And why?

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  • By Victoria Mixon

    Last month we talked about my cat, who is not a writer (or else who is, depending upon how many opposable thumbs you think it takes). We also watched a video about working with me made by the wonderful #1 Kindle Best Selling author Stu Wakefield.

    Now this morning the cat is asleep on my feet, Stu is on the rocky Orkney Islands researching his novels, and I am sore all over from working in my garden all weekend.

    So let’s talk about writing and gardening.

    Because you’d be surprised at the similarities.

    1. Gardening is hard work

      This can be news to those of us not raised by gardeners.

      I happen to have been to be raised by farmers, who are gardeners gone lunatic. My grandparents and great-grandparents owned large potato farms in Southern California, to which they’d migrated from Lodi (when my grandmother told me she was born in Lodi, I said, “Oh, Grandma. Nobody was born in Lodi”), to which they’d migrated from South Dakota, to which they’re migrated from the great Russian steppes, where I have no doubt at all those people farmed potatoes.

      They were Germans. What else would they farm?

      So everywhere I lived in my childhood, I was surrounded by fields and fields of agriculture, mostly potatoes. And everyplace we moved, my parents put in a kitchen garden.

      Now I do it too.

      Which is why my husband and I have spent the last few weekends outdoors busting our heinies in the garden. We happen to have very, very heavy clay soil here, so when I say “busting,” I mean parts of our bodies were actually breaking and falling off.

      You know why I do this?

      So when I come back indoors on Monday I will be all rested up and primed for the seriously hard work:

      Writing.

    2. Gardening is about the big picture

      On my pauses between client manuscripts, I like to lean on my office windowsill and gaze down from the attic upon my garden below. My garden is very nicely-planned, because I am a past-graphic-designer and also extremely OCD. I picture it in my mind bursting with opulent green leaves and massive vegetables and the undeniable good health of a garden well-loved.

      Even though it spends a lot of its life just looking like a whole lot of dirt.

      I know, in the back of my mind, that I do this every year, that every year begins with whole a lot of dirt backed by a whole lot of optimism. Some years I get the opulence, and some years I get a bunch of scraggly dying stuff surrounded by weeds, which all but grabs me by the collar and begs me to put it out of its misery.

      At such times, I ask myself why I keep at it.

      And I answer myself, “Because this is what I do.”

    3. Gardening lies in the little details

      I always worry every spring about the tiny seedlings out there struggling through sun and wind and rain to extend their root systems and buckle down to photosynthesis and eventually maybe—just maybe—one day be the proud green parents of the fruits of their labor.

      Then I go back to my clients, who are also knocking themselves out to extend the roots of their knowledge of this craft and buckle down to producing scenes and maybe—just maybe—one day be the proud bookish parents of the fruits of their labor.

      I know all about how many complicated and even contradictory techniques a writer must master in order to result in a completed story.

      They usually don’t.

      So I teach them. Slowly and carefully.

      I try not to burn their tender roots with too much information too fast. And I encourage them to produce scenes, knowing many of those scenes will not add to the finished story but will assist in photosynthesizing the fuel for the final scenes. And I keep reminding my clients that the goal is not a whole lot of dirt—as necessary as that is for results—or even opulent leaves.

      The goal is fruit.

    4. You can’t always control the outcome

      Sadly, there are things bigger and stronger than gardeners. We call it weather. We also call it wildlife, insects, fungus, and pure bad luck.

      Part of the craft of gardening lies in learning each of these challenges and the many techniques developed by gardeners throughout the ages to meet them. And part of it lies in learning to be good sports.

      Because life is not just gardening.

      Life is being alive, whether the gardening goes well or not.

      We talk constantly here on this blog—in my books, on video, on my advice column, on my writing Lab, in my Ask Victoria column on the Writer Unboxed newsletter, even on Twitter—about the zillions of techniques of writing craft designed by writers throughout the ages.

      But part of this work lies in learning to be good sports. It’s not always going to turn out the way we want.

      We’re not always going to be up to the task of realizing the visions in our imaginations. And even when we are, the rest of the publishing industry (agents, acquisitions editors, marketers, booksellers, reviewers, other bloggers, and most importantly readers) are not necessarily going to cooperate.

      And that has to be all right—life is not just writing.

      Life is being alive, whether the writing goes well or not.

    5. Gardening is only worth it if you long with all your heart to garden

      Sometimes when I guest post I hear from the readers of other blogs (never here—I don’t think anyone following this blog has any question about the meaning of the work we do) that I seem to expect an awful lot from writers, when they’re really only in the game to make big bucks with this new self-marketing gizmo about which everyone talks so much.

      “I’m only writing to finance my real love,” I hear, “competitive afghan-knitting or professional spelunking or entreprenureal self-marketing or, you know, my art.”

      And I respond with enthusiastic, heartfelt encouragement for them to do what they love.

      Writing is not a way to finance your real life.

      It’s not even a way to finance writing.

      In spite of JK Rowling, Stephen King, and Amanda Hocking, writing is and remains a passion. Writing is something we do not because it always bears fruit (it doesn’t) or because the big picture is a snapshot (it isn’t) or because the myriad details ever end (they don’t) or—certainly—because it’s possible to guarantee the results of our writing will turn out just the want we want (they never do). . .

      But because it’s our real love.

    Oh, people. We can’t ask life for more than that.

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  • By Victoria Mixon

    And now that NaNoWriMo is over and the holidays are upon us, along with the ornaments and stockings and the book of Tigger’s Solstice Carols that my son and I made by hand when he was two—I’m bringing back my December series on deeper meaning.

    I know as well as you do how exhausted you are by this time of year. I’m exhausted too. All that writing, all that thinking about our characters and our stories and our language and our readers. All that working, all that struggling.

    All that living.

    Why do we do it?

    Joy and fulfillment, that’s why.

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    VICTORIA’S ADVICE COLUMN

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  • By Victoria Mixon

    You know how you work so hard to get that first draft down on the page? How you sacrifice comfort, companionship and casual entertainment, family time, work time, leisure time, exercise, sleep, nutrition, freedom from toxins, sobriety, eventually your very sanity—all for the sake of that novel?

    Then you suffer the hellfires of the damned in revision?

    Then you realize in a blinding flash of epiphany it’s a huge piece of crap and start the whole cycle over again? Because you want that badly for it to be good?

    And then you finally, finally, finally have a manuscript you’re proud of, a beautiful, heartfelt evocation of everything you needed to say in exactly the way you needed to say it, and you hire an editor, and send that baby off. . .and it comes back. . .all EDITED.

    What the hell?

    Such a thankless task it is. These are the things every writer—even you, even me—always, by necessity, overlooks:

    1. Chaos

      You outlined it. Swear to god, you did. And you did your blessed best to stick to that outline. But everyone knows characters have no respect for their maker, they go tripping off with their heads in the clouds, or in the sand, or under a rock, their fingers in their ears, singing, “la-la-la-la-la-la—I can’t HEAR you!” while you’re leaping up and down shrieking, “It’s a cliff! You idiots! You’re going to die a horrible death! Watch your stupid—! damn. Back to the drawingboard.”

      I don’t care how carefully you planned your story or how meticulously you adhered to your plan, there is stuff in there that makes no sense. You know why? Because you have a great imagination, that’s why. And there simply isn’t enough story in the world to sensibly organize absolutely everything you’re capable of thinking up.
    2. Lag

    3. Closely related to all-out chaos, these are slightly better-developed detours. Your characters come up with cool stuff to do that has nothing whatever to do with your story, but they’ve got you convinced it’s okay because, hey! they can get a whole lot done while they’re doing it. So you follow them dutifully, writing it all down, shaping it and molding it for climax and polishing the language, thinking, “Maybe there’ll be a spot for it.”

      But there’s not. Bummer about that. So you shoehorn it in—not because it works—but because you simply can’t bear to leave it out.

    4. Flab

    5. Oh, the words. Words, and words, and words, and words. It’s not your fault. It just comes out of you that way.

      Everybody uses more words than necessary, because it takes that many words to get the golden nuggets mined out of your subconscious and onto the page. Then you go back and bravely cut out 25% of them. But there’s another 25% that needs to come out, and you’re faced with a choice: this 25%? or that 25%? or some impossibly intricate, interwoven combination of the two? And what about the other 25%—is that all good, or are you missing something important that needs to be cut out of there, too?

      And your vision goes swimmy, your head starts lolling around on your neck, there’s a ringing in your ears, and the next thing you know you’re on the floor under your desk biting your knuckles and twitching convulsively.

      You just don’t know.

    6. Overkill

    7. The single most fundamental fact about the craft of fiction is the impassable abyss between what the writer sees on the page and what the reader sees. You see absolutely everything. Some of it you don’t even get around to writing down. And when you come back for revision, you automatically doubt every single instinct you had in the original writing about what the reader can tell is going on and what’s just a bunch of gibberish.

      So you help them out. You insert a lot of useful, enlightening paragraphs meant to focus their telescope for them as they peer, eternally short-sighted, across that abyss at the world you happen to know is far more vivid and brilliant and meaningful than they can ever discern from such a distance.

    8. Anticlimax

      And this one’s due to sheer, helpless, futile, blind hope. You know perfectly well that Climax doesn’t do it. But, oh, my ever-loving god, you have been through this entire manuscript so many times, so faithfully, so laboriously, so intently. There is no more blood in the stone.

      What are the chances that Climax works just exactly PERFECTLY, and you simply can’t see it for all the sweat and tears blurring your eyes?

      What the hell, you know?

    Remember: just because you overlooked this stuff, simply by putting yourself out there and being a writer, you still have 8 Wonderful Lessons to Learn From Screwing Up Your Manuscript.

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    A. VICTORIA MIXON, FREELANCE INDEPENDENT EDITOR

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