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Grisham vs. Grisham Considering authorial freedom within the confines of genre fiction

Did a bestselling master of his genre write the same novel twice?

On first glance, it might look that way. The premise and plot setups of John Grisham’s 1999 release The Testament and his 2013 release Sycamore Row are remarkably similar. Both novels feature:

  • The suicide of a wealthy man with a terminal disease, right at the beginning of the book.
  • The discovery of a last-minute handwritten holographic will that diverts a vast fortune from the family of expectant heirs to an […]
By |2019-09-10T21:38:28+00:00|General, Mystery / Suspense, Recommended Reading, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on Grisham vs. Grisham Considering authorial freedom within the confines of genre fiction

Missing, Presumed, a novel by Susie Steiner Considering characterization, craft, and the conventions of mystery writing in a stunning series debut

by Ross Browne with Susie Steiner

One thing the editor in me loves about mysteries is seeing how successful authors navigate the challenge of writing entertainingly in a style of novel that’s inherently formulaic. For all its boundless appeal, mystery is a genre whose stories can be very similar in plot and structure, usually opening with the discovery of a crime and ending with the perpetrator being brought to justice in some way or another.

Many of my […]

By |2019-06-17T20:21:48+00:00|Book Reviews and Analysis, Mystery / Suspense, Q&A, RSB, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on Missing, Presumed, a novel by Susie Steiner Considering characterization, craft, and the conventions of mystery writing in a stunning series debut

The Best Books on Writing Ever! Picks from our editors and staff

There are tons of books on this subject out there, ranging from “meh!” to “wow.” Because you’re our peeps and we don’t want you to waste your time with the former, our staff has put together a short list of the latter. We’ve included links to make it easier for you to find these awesome resources, along with the staff member’s take on what’s most useful, informative, or inspiring about them, so you can go straight to the good stuff.

And the […]

By |2019-07-27T15:35:30+00:00|Book Reviews and Analysis, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on The Best Books on Writing Ever! Picks from our editors and staff

Sudden Prey, by John Sandford An editor’s review considering characterization and its impact on story in a bestselling crime series

by Ross Browne

Anyone familiar with my taste in books probably knows how much I love John Sandford and admire his skills as a writer. One reason I like his Lucas Davenport series so much is that these deftly plotted novels usually go deep into the minds of deranged killers in seriously engaging and convincing fashion. Understanding what makes his bad guys tick and seeing their world through their eyes is part of the dark appeal […]

By |2018-05-17T19:11:42+00:00|Book Reviews and Analysis, Mystery / Suspense, RSB, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on Sudden Prey, by John Sandford An editor’s review considering characterization and its impact on story in a bestselling crime series

Revise Your Book, Hollywood-Style A novelist, screenwriter, and editor shares his take on a secret weapon for manuscript revision

by John Robert Marlow

Are you an author who

  • Has never tried using an outline?
  • Likes the idea of outlining, but gave up on it because it was too much trouble—or just didn’t work for you?
  • Uses an outline for initial story planning, but not for revisions?
  • Would rather have a root canal than use an outline?

If so, you’re not alone. Let’s face it: traditional outlines—with formatting and structure imposed by programs like Microsoft Word—can be a huge pain, especially when you want to change things. All […]

By |2019-06-17T16:44:18+00:00|Developmental Editing, JRM, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on Revise Your Book, Hollywood-Style A novelist, screenwriter, and editor shares his take on a secret weapon for manuscript revision

Evaluating Nonfiction: One Editor’s Approach What can set your nonfiction manuscript up for success ... or doom it to the reject pile

by Peter Gelfan

Fiction lives or dies by the author’s storytelling and writing skills (and perseverance and some luck). For nonfiction, then, one might assume that likewise, an interesting topic well elucidated will do the job. However, the publishing industry and readers regard nonfiction a bit differently.

Subject Matter

Publishers generally have certain prerequisites for even considering a nonfiction project. The first of course is whether the subject matter has a market. In other words, they have to think that enough […]

By |2019-06-17T16:46:39+00:00|PG, The Editor’s Craft, The Editorial Process, Traditional Publishing|Comments Off on Evaluating Nonfiction: One Editor’s Approach What can set your nonfiction manuscript up for success ... or doom it to the reject pile