Posts and articles on writing, editing, and more from author, editor, and craft teaching specialist Peter Gelfan.

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 | 2018-05-16T18:45:51+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

The Role of Mystery in Fiction An editor's take on the value of mystery in all genres of fiction

by Peter Gelfan

Unlike nonfiction, fiction’s motor doesn’t run on information, but on its opposite: mystery.

I’m not talking about mystery as a genre, but as the essential quality in all fiction that cultivates curiosity, stimulates the imagination, invites participation, and generally keeps readers reading. Every step of the reader’s journey should be fraught with questions, not only about how the story turns out, but about character, motive, backstory, and—perhaps most importantly—what he or she would do in the hero’s or villain’s […]

By | 2018-05-21T19:44:48+00:00 |PG, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on The Role of Mystery in Fiction An editor's take on the value of mystery in all genres of fiction

Five Short Steps to the Reject Pile Keep your book out of the reject pile by avoiding these five common mistakes

Oh, the dreaded reject pile.

Often we like to imagine the (probably imaginary) good old days when editors searched for traces of gold in the rough ore of a first draft and worked with the writer to refine it. Recently, an editor at a major publisher offered a less romantic glimpse of the process. With dozens of submissions to read and all the nonliterary pressures of the job, most editors and even agents read a manuscript […]

By | 2018-08-21T16:25:53+00:00 |Getting Published, PG, The Writer’s Craft, Traditional Publishing|Comments Off on Five Short Steps to the Reject Pile Keep your book out of the reject pile by avoiding these five common mistakes

Authentic Voice Elements of Craft: One editor’s take on an author’s technique

 

Fiction readers are very demanding creatures.

They want their made-up stories to be as close to truth as possible—sort of like vegetarian meat. If they have to pick between two gritty detective novels, one by an ex-cop and the other by an MFA who has always lived in the nice part of town, you know which one most of them will carry to the cashier. Other than for pedigree patinas like book-jacket bios and publicity profiles, the main way readers […]

By | 2018-05-03T19:12:35+00:00 |PG, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on Authentic Voice Elements of Craft: One editor’s take on an author’s technique