There’s a limit to what you can learn about writing from reading about it. Yes, articles can explain techniques you can use or point out traps you might fall into. They can help you see some aspects of your writing more clearly.
But when you try to put all this advice into play, you find that everything is connected to everything else. Changing one character’s voice can affect how other characters react to him or her, which could change the direction of your plot. Describing a setting in more detail might color the mood of the scene, so that the dialogue no longer seems to fit quite so well. Even a mechanical change like how often you paragraph can increase your pace and affect the amount of detail you need to include.
Which is why we’re kicking off a new feature here at Writer Unboxed — the Editor’s Clinic. We’re asking brave volunteers to submit a few pages from their work in progress. (This initial example is from a client, used with his permission.) Then I or one of the WU editorial stable will work our magic and post the results here. And this gives you a chance to see how editors apply writing advice in its natural habitat. It gives us a chance to get away from the theoretical and get real.
If you’d like to give it a go, you can send a sample of your work (no more than five pages) to email@example.com. Feel free to include any questions you might have about the passage, and we’ll try to get them answered. And please feel free to join in the discussion — they’re often the best part of the article.
We’re still feeling our way with this, so we’re not sure yet how often the clinic will appear or who the editorial stable will include. But I’ve done similar things in the past, and they’ve been a lot of fun.
So watch this space.
And here’s the opening sample. The narrator, April, is being stalked by Josh, someone she used to know. Richard is the current boyfriend. The notes appear at the end.