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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

    Thel nocked an arrow and inhaled until her lungs were full and drew back the bowstring until her left hand rested lightly against her cheekbone. She exhaled slowly and sighted with her left eye then swiveled her right arm so that she could see the flat expanse between the buck’s unblinking black eyes. She curled her left index finger and touched the trigger release.
    —Chris Hale

    Developmental Edit

    I’m all over that word “nocked.” Action, expertise, great sound all packed into one—and it’s almost the first word! hook

    Tense? check
    Vivid? check
    Raises a question? check Will she get him?
    Drop-kicks us off the end? check —touched the trigger release— You betcha!

    What does this paragraph tell us about the book we’re starting? A female character named Thel is out hunting a buck. She’s calm, and she seems to know exactly what she’s doing. She has a whole series of steps she goes through to make sure she makes her shot, and she breathes deeply and deliberately as part of her prep.

    Do I want to follow this character through a whole novel? So far, I like her. She looks smart and hard to fluster. I like that in a protagonist! It means they can handle a lot of trouble.

    Genre? Right away I’m thinking fantasy, adventure, possibly historical.

    Do we need to know who the character is, how they got here, where they were before? We know she’s hunting—that’s enough for a hook.

    Do we need to know what she’s going to do after she takes her shot? Heck, no!

    Does this paragraph drop us right smack in a specific moment in this character’s story? Yep.

    So let’s talk about the structure of it. This is a very tense moment, and we’re all waiting for her to take her shot. What’s the best way to light a fire under a reader? Keep the action short and snappy. Can this paragraph be made any shorter and snappier, while keeping the essential information and avoiding repetition? Remember, every word counts.

    Copy & Line Edit

    Thel nocked an arrow, inhaled deeply, and drew the bowstring until her left hand rested against her cheekbone. She swiveled toward the flat expanse between the buck’s unblinking black eyes. Then she curled her left index finger, exhaling slowly, and touched the trigger release.


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No Responses to “Free HOOK Edit: Thel nocked an arrow—”

  1. Wow — I counted only 64 words. It was easy to imagine the scene. Even my husband, who hates to read, liked it. (He’s a bowhunter, too.) Well done!

  2. Makes me want to go hunting.:)
    Although I wonder why aim between the eyes? Seems like the bone is hardest there. A shot right through the eye seems like it would penetrate further. Maybe it’s just an aiming technique.

  3. Agree with Iapetus999 – unless you are or have asked an experienced buck hunter, I’d research WHERE she was aiming before jumping on that limb.

    My only other comment is to stay away from adverbs like:


    “inhaled, slow and steady,”
    “with a slow exhale”

    Something like that?

  4. Ashley, thanks for your comments. I covered adverbs in one of my earliest posts:

    We’re assuming for the purposes of this exercise that anyone describing a specific place or action has done their research. Fact-checking is beyond the scope of this blog.


  5. Well, 10k lashes with a wet noodle for me! New here – great blog, and nice to meet you. What a wonderful place to share knowledge with authors.

  6. It’s very nice to meet you, too. Ashley. I’ve clarified the purpose of the Comments on these Edits for everyone. I was not clear about it before.

    I hope you find what helps you here!


  7. BTW ? Whoever Thel is, I’m hooked! 😉 In case I forgot to mention that. She seems like a warrior type, who can take care of herself. Just the type of character I’d follow for 300 some odd pages! well done.

  8. This character, Thel, clearly knows what she’s doing – and, she’s a “leftie” too. I’m on board with her for the adventure – nice hook.

  9. Yeah, I caught the leftie thing, too! Great touch, huh?


  10. Wow, you guys are awesome. Thanks for the feedback! I’m looking forward to having the time to develop this story, so hopefully Thel will come to life on the page the way she has in my head.

    I admit that I struggle with adverb use. It’s just so tempting to drop them in! But I’m working on that problem, taking it day by day (or line by line…).

    I appreciate your point, Iapetus999, and I admit that, not being a hunter myself, I hadn’t thought about that. I think Thel will be aiming for the eye…

  11. I think it’s a good sign that those of us into archery are immediately drawn into this peice – you definately got the feel of it right! And now I want to know – are they shooting between the eyes to be fancy? do they have a magic bow? Will something startle the deer and ruin an already difficult shot? Enquiring minds want to know! 🙂

  12. Michelle Jefferies said on

    I liked the image. I was right there with you. I liked the left handed thing too. 🙂 I did want to ask when the time frame was, the “trigger” threw me because I was thinking “pre trigger” time untill then. I was living in the past untill then. 🙂 Also, why the head when a arrow through the spine in theneck would drop the animal in one shot? Just some honest questions.


  13. Chris Hale said on

    Thanks for the comments, Michelle. The “trigger” reference is intentional and is meant to place the story in a specific time. Time is a big factor in the story, but I could only include the hook! In the next paragraphs, it becomes clear that this isn’t a “pre-trigger” time, but most of the characters do have “pre-trigger” lives and stories. Hopefully the reference to a trigger release wouldn’t throw the reader too much, especially when it’s in its full context.

    Spine shot, huh? I admit I’m not a hunter…frankly, neither is Thel, though she does have preternatural skill with the bow…

    I’m trying to introduce an internal conflict in the opening paragraphs–Thel is a natural hunter in terms of skill with the bow, but she’s hesitant to take a life. It both bothers and fascinates her that she’s gifted in this way.

    Thanks again!

  14. Chris,

    Hey, that’s very interesting that you intended to portray Thel as hesitant to take a life. I got that she was calm, level-headed, and skilled, but not hesitant.

    You could get that in there easily with just one more mannerism at the end of the second paragraph, right before she takes her shot (“She swiveled toward the flat expanse between the buck’s unblinking black eyes and—“). People do lots of subtle facial things to indicate discomfort: bite a lip, wrinkle a forehead, wince. The briefer the image, the more powerful. Nice touch!


  15. Chris Hale said on

    Thanks for the advice, Victoria. I’ll work on getting that in. I definitely want her to appear calm, level-headed, and skilled…but also severely conflicted about that aspect of herself. (It helps to know that she’s 14! And before all the experienced hunters complain about a 14-year-old girl being able to pull a compound bow, let me say that she’s not an ordinary 14-year-old girl…) I like the facial things–maybe she opens her other eye at the last moment…or closes both eyes.