Posts and articles on writing, publishing, working with professional editors, and more from Editorial Department president Ross Browne.

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 own […]

By | 2018-06-14T19:50:12+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

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

South of Hell by P.J. Parrish A “First 50” Review

by Ross Browne

Flap Copy: For Louis Kincaid and his lover, female detective Joe Frye, the present and the past collide when they team up to find out what happened to Jean Brandt, who was reported missing by her husband from their Michigan farmhouse in 1981. Jean’s daughter Amy, only five at the time, has been plagued by dream-like memories of a violent killing, and it is assumed that the murder she has seen is her mother’s. But as Amy’s veracity as […]

By | 2018-06-05T20:34:52+00:00 |First 50, Mystery / Suspense, RSB, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on South of Hell by P.J. Parrish A “First 50” Review

Recommended Reading: Word Play by Peter Farb An enlightening study of language that’s a gold mine for dialogue-conscious novelists

by Ross Browne

Word Play by Peter Farb may not have been written with novelists in mind, but it’s chock full of good insights for writers, especially on the topic of dialogue. (You can check out the book here.)

One chapter I find especially interesting is on verbal dueling. The author’s position is summed up nicely in the very first paragraph with the statement:

“Most speakers unconsciously duel even during seemingly casual conversation, as can often be observed at social gatherings where […]

By | 2018-06-05T20:14:04+00:00 |Book Reviews and Analysis, RSB, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on Recommended Reading: Word Play by Peter Farb An enlightening study of language that’s a gold mine for dialogue-conscious novelists

Plot vs. Plot Event An editor's thoughts inspired by Robert Ludlum, Matt Damon, and Jason Bourne

by Ross Browne

It wasn’t all that long ago that the news hit Hollywood that Matt Damon was considering bowing out of his leading role as Jason Bourne. The untitled film he considered passing on would have been the fifth in a series based on a trilogy that we have Robert Ludlum to thank for. (Or blame for, depending on your perspective.) Ludlum stopped writing the series after book number 3, and it wasn’t until his death […]

By | 2018-05-21T21:30:24+00:00 |RSB, The Writer’s Craft|Comments Off on Plot vs. Plot Event An editor's thoughts inspired by Robert Ludlum, Matt Damon, and Jason Bourne

Candor, Tough Love, and the Delicate Art of the Bounce How our editors handle manuscripts that aren’t ready for editing

by Ross Browne

The first thing I’d put on the table in connection with how we handle manuscripts that need a lot of work could, I hope, go without saying. And that’s that we never want to be discouraging to an author. There’s no pleasure in telling a writer that a manuscript needs rewriting rather than editing or that its flaws run deeper than even an intensive developmental edit can reasonably be expected to fix. But our commitment to telling […]

By | 2018-05-21T21:48:59+00:00 |Developmental Editing, RSB, The Editor’s Craft|Comments Off on Candor, Tough Love, and the Delicate Art of the Bounce How our editors handle manuscripts that aren’t ready for editing