Lee Allen Howard’s The Covenant Sacrifice melds cult horror with gay romance, examining conservative family values from an LGBTQ perspective.
JAMESTOWN, NY, USA, June 5, 2023 — Lee Allen Howard, MFA, announces pre-order availability for The Covenant Sacrifice (on sale date: July 14, 2023). Howard’s sixth novel from Three First Names examines religious homophobia, spotlighting one LGBTQ individual’s struggle to accept their orientation because of family and society’s religious persecution.
In The Covenant Sacrifice, Howard weaves a story both horrifying and heartwarming about 34-year-old Jarod Huntingdon, who wants more than anything to start a family. He returns to the remote rural community of Annastasis Creek for a season of soul-searching and finds he still harbors feelings for his childhood best friend, Scotty.
But overnight, a violent rainstorm traps everyone in the valley, blocking roads and severing communication with the outside world. And one by one, local residents go missing. During the search, Jarod learns of a mysterious curse, one that defrocked Pentecostal pastor Uriah Zalmon plans to appease by finding a sinner to sacrifice…
In order to break the curse for good and defend the innocent, Jarod must first confront his past and accept himself as a gay man before he can challenge the homophobic Covenant Trustees—and vanquish the evil the screaming cicadas have awoken.
Readers thrilled with the horror of toxic religion in Stephen King’s Carrie will enjoy The Covenant Sacrifice.
Howard, who earned a master’s degree in biblical studies, says, “I hope The Covenant Sacrifice encourages LGBTQ folks who’ve endured hardship and persecution from family, friends, and community to come out and be true to themselves.”
To learn more about Lee Allen Howard, his new novel The Covenant Sacrifice, and his previous works of dark fiction, visit his official website. For updates, follow Howard’s social media and subscribe to his monthly email newsletter here.
Then sign up to receive a free electronic copy in exchange for writing an honest review that you’ll post on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, and social media:
ARC SIGNUP CLOSED ON JUNE 10, 2023
The novel is now available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Slated for release on July 14, pre-order a copy now, and it will be delivered to your e-reader on the official publication date.
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At last! The cover art for my forthcoming horror/gay romance, The Covenant Sacrifice, is complete. Here’s the cover reveal (keep scrolling).
Designed by artist Francois Vaillancourt, the cover uncannily reflects the dark atmosphere and mood of my novel, due out in ebook and trade paperback this summer.
Here’s the back cover copy…
When the dead return to abduct the living, the living turn into monsters…
Jarod Huntingdon wants more than anything to start a family, yet he’s unable to commit to his girlfriend and isn’t sure why. When the father of his childhood best friend, Scotty, passes away, Jarod takes the opportunity to return home to the remote rural community of Annastasis Creek for a season of soul-searching.
But overnight, a violent rainstorm traps everyone in the valley, blocking roads and severing communication with the outside world. And one by one, the residents of Annastasis Creek go missing.
While helping with the search efforts, Jarod learns of a curse as old as he is, one tied to the reappearance of the cicadas, first placed on the community after five young people perished in a house fire decades before. To temporarily appease the curse, defrocked Pentecostal pastor Uriah Zalmon must find a sinner to sacrifice.
The dead are returning to Annastasis Creek…
Can Jarod break the curse for good, save the innocent from the homophobic Covenant Trustees, and vanquish what the screaming cicadas have awoken?
Are you in the planning stage for a new story? Maybe you’ve started a first draft, but you’re stymied by some aspect of plotting or writing. Wouldn’t it be great to have a sounding board to discuss your ideas, options for structure and plot, POV choice, narrative tense to use, and so on? It can’t hurt to get an educated opinion about your approach before you begin writing or during the writing process. That’s where story coaching comes in.
What is story coaching?
Story coaching is consultation that a seasoned editor provides. It’s a discussion with dark fiction writers about literary aspects of their work and choices they could make to develop a sound blueprint from which to construct an effective story.
Story coaching is for you if you’re noodling an incomplete idea or wrestling with an unfinished manuscript you’re unsure what to do with. Story coaching—which I provide through video consultation (link coming soon)—will help guide you toward completing a solid draft. I’m also available if you simply have burning questions about writing craft.
Story coaching is typically most helpful early in the story development process. Instead of spending days, weeks, or months writing a story that doesn’t work, story coaching prepares you to draft the most powerful story you can write—a story that will connect and satisfy readers, readers willing to shell out more of their book-buying dollars for your future work—along with positive reviews.
Story coaching can also take place well after the first draft to gain feedback and insight about challenging aspects of your dark fiction project.
What I provide with story coaching
As a certified editor, I can review early pages you send (a partial or complete manuscript). Or I can simply discuss your story with you through video consultation (link coming soon).
Here are a few story coaching services I offer:
Determining acceptable word count for your genre (dark fiction only)
If you’re considering booking a story coaching session with me, here are a few ways you can prepare:
Take a few days to jot down some issues with your story and how you might go about writing it. Include any questions about this and writing in general.
If you’ve written pages, review the topics in the first list under “What I provide with story coaching.” Then make notes or record more questions about these aspects of your story.
Complete the exercise of writing a 100-word blurb for your story, novella, or novel. It will help you discover what your story’s about. For instructions, go here.
When you’re ready for story coaching, contact me and let me know where you are in your writing process and what you’d like to discuss. I’m available to help you learn more about the craft of writing dark fiction and develop a better, more successful story.
We’re all professionals here. We’ve fought through pain and fear and so dang much rejection to stand where we are. And we’d like to have a little cash in our pockets as well as a few books under our belts for the trouble.
Part of the process of getting paid is learning the system and how to work it. Figuring out how to best market ourselves, how to read markets, and how to give those markets what they want. How to make things people want and get them to part with their cash for it.
And there ain’t a damn thing wrong with that.
I want every artist out there to make their paper. Pay a bill or two. Maybe not die of starvation. Please stop laughing at the concept of paying a bill or even buying a basic coffee on the proceeds of a sold poem.
But, do you remember that first time you put rolled ink or scraped graphite to paper? Perhaps clacking keys on a glowing screen? The exploration. The creation. The pure, ecstatic joy of it.
Now, be honest with yourself when you think about this next question. Don’t yield to the need to lie. Be straight. Do you let yourself feel that same joy when you write now?
It’s easy to fixate on the artifice of our art, but it eventually pokes through the surface. It can too easily become all our art is—our soul another product we mold for maximum profitability. One that, ultimately, falls too flat and cold to sell well.
We’re taught that craft makes the sales, but most readers don’t care about your perfect scansion. The reason Bukowski and Plath still sell well doesn’t have a single thing to do with their admittedly solid craft. They laid themselves bare. Wrote what they needed to.
People resonate with that.
As a fan, I want you to find that fun again. I want you to go for it. Full bore. No restraint. That weird-ass, freaky thing no one would like and pretty much everyone would judge you for: I want that in my eyeholes.
I want you to play with words. I want you to tell my analytical side to take a flying leap off a short pier into the ever-sucking abyss of heartless nihil. Forget everything every professor and professional ever taught you and have a little fun with those words. Let that early version of you dance in the sandbox of this fallen, idiotic world.
Create the art that only you want to see in the world. Something so specific and weird that you know with every fiber of your being that no one wants. That messed up amalgamation of baby bits and juggled ejaculate. That saccharine sweet adoration we’re all too cool to admit we desperately need in our lives.
As an example, I’ll leave you with my favorite poem from my first published collection, Meaningless Cycles in a Vicious Glass Prison. It’s based on a silly joke from an absurd movie about zombies and murder that few people know about, and I DON’T CARE. I had fun writing it. I want you to have the same fun writing your own stuff.
BY WHOMEVER I PLEASE
It’s a girl’s right, after all. My body, my choice, you know the drill. So, if I want to feel clammy, frigid lips wrap themselves around the meaty edge of my arm while his teeth force their way inside me, spilling forth gushing rivers of my interior juices, then you can just mind your own fucking business and move along.
You’ve made the wise decision to have your dark fiction manuscript line edited and copy edited. Is it ready for submission or self-publication? Not quite. If you want to polish your prose to perfection, you’ll hire a proofreader.
What is proofreading?
Editing involves major changes to your story, its structure, and language, but proofreading is the final stage of the editing process, when a skilled proofreader fixes minor misspellings, typos, punctuation mistakes, formatting issues, and other inconsistencies.
Editing stages leading up to proofreading
The number one mistake writers make when hiring a proofreader is that they believe they need only proofreading when, in most cases, their writing would also benefit from a previous level of editing. (For a pictorial representation of the entire editing spectrum, see What Do You Need on the Fiction Editing Spectrum.)
Manuscript evaluation offers an educated opinion, in writing, about how your draft stacks up to published fiction standards. The editor evaluates and reports on such elements as structure, plot, pacing, characterization, point of view, description, setting, and more. Most importantly, a professional critique includes what you could do to sharpen these elements and make your story better.
Developmental editing evaluates the building blocks of a story, checking that they’re present and working well together. It ensures that your structure and plot are solid, characters well-drawn and motivated, point of view correctly executed, setting and description vividly drawn, dialogue rings true, mood and tone support the overall story.
Line editing enhances your writing style so that your language is clear, flows effortlessly, and reads well. Refining paragraph and sentence construction ensures that all the right building blocks are in place and maximizes the effectiveness of your ideas. Misspellings, wrong words, awkward phrasing, and more are corrected. Line editing tightens your writing.
Copy editing hones your writing style by correcting spelling, grammar, syntax, and punctuation errors; ensuring that your writing adheres to editorial style standards; clarifying the text by eliminating ambiguous or factually incorrect information; flagging continuity inconsistencies; and producing a smooth reading experience.
While line editors and copy editors correct inaccuracies and hone your writing style, they won’t catch every mechanical error. The proofreader’s job is to scour your manuscript and find any mistakes that may have slipped through the editing cracks. This means proofreading falls at the very end of the editorial process, after your manuscript has undergone both line editing and copy editing.
Make sure you’ve thoroughly revised and edited your work before you pursue the final stage of proofreading. (There’s no point spending time and money fixing minor errors if you might later cut entire sections or restructure paragraphs and sentences.) Only have your manuscript proofread after you’ve completed a final edited draft that you’re pleased with.
In fact, if you send a proofreader a manuscript riddled with grammar mistakes, difficult sentences, and convoluted paragraphs—things you’re unable to see but stand out like flashing neon to an editor—they may decline the job and recommend a previous editorial service.
Why is proofreading important?
A manuscript sprinkled with typos, grammar errors, or textual inconsistencies will derail readers from the fictive dream you’ve worked hard to induce. Proofreading is crucial because it enables your narrative to mesmerize readers without disruption.
Proofreading polishes your work with a professional finish. This is vital if you want agents or publishers to consider your work or, if you’re pursuing self-publishing, you desire to build a loyal readership. When readers encounter an unedited or unproofed book, they’ll probably assume you couldn’t be bothered to invest in your own work. If you skipped these essential steps and your work shows it, why would they read any more of your dark fiction?
Proofreading is indispensable because, if you omit it and readers encounter more than a few typos or grammar errors in your novel, any remaining errors will negatively affect their reading experience. Many disgruntled readers are willing to go out of their way to complain about slipshod editing and proofing in reviews of your work. Falling stars = dwindling sales.
In today’s world of self-publishing, proofreading is a nonnegotiable step in the editorial process. As in indie author, you may be looking for ways to cut costs and thus be tempted to proofread on your own. But indie books have grown in quality in recent years, raising the bar and increasing competition. Getting your work professionally proofread is now not only common practice but a necessity for success.
What does a proofreader do?
Proofreaders won’t overhaul your story content or provide in-depth feedback on your work. This is the job of previous editors (see What Do You Need on the Fiction Editing Spectrum?). Proofreaders arrive like Mary Poppins at the tail end of the editorial process to fine-tune and polish your edited work.
This means proofreaders won’t copy-edit your manuscript, making changes they’re not being paid to make. But a reliable proofreader will ensure that your manuscript is free from spelling, grammar, and other errors that could ruin the reading experience and discredit your writing—and you.
Proofreading for print publishing
In print publishing, proofreading is done after the manuscript has been laid out and a “proof” copy printed. This version is what a proofreader works on.
The proofreader’s job for print layout is to conduct a thorough quality check before the book goes into print production. They may compare the original, edited manuscript to the proof, making sure there are no omissions or layout errors. The proofreader checks line spacing and page numbering, and fixes awkward word or page breaks. If the proofreader encounters too many errors, they may return the proof to the copy editor for further work.
Proofreaders consider the entire book, not just the chapter text. They’ll check your epigraphs, acknowledgments, and dedication pages, as well as your table of contents—everywhere text appears.
Tasks of a proofreader
Although professional proofreaders possess a keen eye for detail, that’s not enough. They must also employ a reliable and repeatable method to detect every minor error in your text, from misplaced commas to misused words. They’ll also correct typographical and layout issues in print proofs, such as inconsistencies in font use or incorrectly spaced lines in a paragraph.
The following list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some issues proofreaders check:
Words that sound alike—homophones (for example, they’re, there, their)
Definite and indefinite articles (a, an, the)
Prepositions and prepositional phrases
Hyphens (-), en dashes (–), and em dashes (—)
Capitalization of terms, titles, and proper names
Treatment of numbers
Formatting of dialogue
Paragraph indentation and spacing
Page numbers, headers, footers
Effective proofreading requires multiple passes, each round focusing on only one task.
Can you do your own proofreading?
The short answer is, “Yes, but.” The long answer explains why not.
Any kind of proofing you do yourself helps to produce a cleaner manuscript. Whatever gets your work closer to the finish line is a good thing.
But you, as author, being the only one to proofread your own work? I caution against it. No matter how sharp you are, you will skip over typos and issues you’ve seen dozens of times during revision because you’ve become used to seeing them.
So, relying on only your own proofreading isn’t recommended. You’re so accustomed to your text that you could miss mistakes. A professional examines your manuscript with fresh eyes and is less likely to skip over errors.
Bottom line: catch as many errors as you can, but don’t skip hiring a professional proofreader.
The cost of proofreading
How much does third-party proofreading cost nowadays?
Proofreading and editing businesses usually advertise set per-word rates, sometimes with different prices based on turnaround time. On average, expect to pay $0.01–$0.04 per word (around $2.00–$10.00 per page).
The editing and proofreading service, Scribendi, lets you calculate the cost of proofreading based on your word count. For example, an 80,000-word novel takes two weeks and costs $1602.86 (as of the date of this post). That comes out to $0.02 per word, or $5.01 per 250-word page. A 4000-word short story with one-week turnaround time costs $129.33 ($0.032 per word, $8.08 per page). With 24-hour turnaround, cost increases to $163.17 ($0.041 per word, $10.20 per page).
Reedsy proofreading costs about $0.015 per word, or $3.75 per page.
When a fiction writer says, “I need an editor,” what exactly does it mean? What kind of editor? What kind of editing? This post discusses different levels and types on the fiction editing spectrum.
It took me thirty years of struggling through my own writing process to realize there’s more to producing an effective, salable story—whether it be a short story, novelette, novella, or novel. Much more than merely throwing X number of words on the page and running spellcheck before rushing the a manuscript to an agent or publisher.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that editing is not only necessary, but crucial to successfully placing stories in today’s markets, including self-publishing. And “editing” isn’t a one-size-fits-all service; there are different types of editing, depending on where your manuscript is in the writing and revision process.
Five levels of editing
I provide story coaching (link coming soon) for consultation during the planning and drafting stage of story development.
When you’ve produced a manuscript draft, I offer comprehensive fiction editing at the following levels that range from very high down to the nitty gritty:
The types of editing at each of these levels exist on the following spectrum.
The editing spectrum
As a results-oriented editor of dark fiction, I provide all five levels of editing, along with a few other services.
Wherever you are in your writing process with a piece of dark fiction, I can help you improve your work.
If you’re here…
You’ll benefit from this kind of editing…
Perhaps you’re still in the planning stage and haven’t yet begun drafting a new story. You could use a sounding board to discuss your idea, options for structure and plot, POV choice, narrative tense to use, and so on. You’d like an opinion about your approach to writing before you begin (or during) the writing process.
Story coaching is for those who are noodling about an incomplete idea or wrestling with an unfinished manuscript you’re unsure what to do with. Story coaching—which I provide through video consultation (link coming soon)—will help guide you toward completing a solid draft. I’m also available if you simply have burning questions about writing craft.
You’ve drafted a story, novella, or novel that you need to have evaluated at the story level. Are you heading in the right direction? Are all the pieces in place, or is something missing? Are they in the most effective order? Does it need developmental editing or more? What could you do to make this story better before you revise and polish? You need a broad, comprehensive analysis of your manuscript.
Manuscript evaluation gives you an educated opinion, in writing, about how your draft stacks up, evaluating such elements as structure, plot, pacing, characterization, point of view, dialogue, description, setting, and more. Most importantly, it includes what you could do to improve these elements and make your story better. Part of evaluation is determining if further editing would benefit your work.
You’re trying your best but need hands-on help to include all the elements of a strong story: structure, plot, characterization, point of view, and so on. Are the necessary pieces in place, in the most effective order, and in the right proportion? Have you made any glaring errors at your story’s foundation that would lead to rejection?
Developmental editing evaluates the building blocks of your story, checking that they’re present and working well together. It ensures that your structure and plot are solid, characters well-drawn and motivated, point of view correctly executed, setting and description vividly drawn, dialogue rings true, mood and tone support the overall story.
You’ve written a solid story (thanks to developmental editing), and now it’s time to focus on how you communicate those ideas to your readers. You’ve got a unique writing style that you want to preserve. But the way you build and connect paragraphs and sentences could use refinement. You want a seamless reading experience to keep readers reading.
Line editing enhances your writing style so that your language is clear, flows effortlessly, and reads well. Refining paragraph and sentence construction ensures that all the right building blocks are in place and maximizes the effectiveness of the ideas you communicate. Misspellings, wrong words, awkward phrasing, and more are corrected. Line editing tightens your writing.
You’ve written a solid story (thanks to developmental editing), which line editing further improved. Now it’s time to polish your work so it doesn’t get rejected because you submitted a less than professional manuscript. You know you need help with sentence structure, grammar, and spelling. That help is available.
Copy editing hones your writing style by correcting spelling, grammar, syntax, and punctuation errors; ensuring that your writing adheres to editorial style standards; clarifying the text by eliminating ambiguous or factually incorrect information; flagging continuity inconsistencies; and producing a smooth reading experience.
Your story, novella, or novel has undergone line editing and copy editing. Now it’s time to go over the text with a fine-toothed comb to catch all those minor but pesky errors that bother some readers. You’ve proofed the manuscript yourself, but you need a second set of eyes before bringing your baby out in public.
Proofreading ensures that your manuscript is free from spelling, grammar, and other errors that could ruin the reading experience and discredit your writing—and you. Proofreading will detect any remaining minor errors in your text, from misplaced commas to misused words, and correct typographical and layout issues.
You may only want to work on early issues with story coaching, manuscript critique, or developmental editing. Many writers skip these early steps and instead contract for a simple proofread to finalize their work before seeking publication. I learned the hard way in my own fiction-writing career that this is a big mistake—one that cost me decades of constant rejections.
Here’s why this is important…
The importance of editing in stages
Why edit in stages? Simply because it’s humanly impossible to flag every kind of error in one pass.
Instead, to maximize the effectiveness of comprehensive editing, it’s industry best practice to perform each editing stage individually, progressing to the next only when the current stage is thorough and complete.
In other words, you should send your manuscript in order through each of the four editing stages. Doing so ensures you’re addressing problems logically and not wasting time and effort correcting passages that need to be rewritten or may be removed.
This means you complete story-level work (manuscript evaluation and developmental editing) before doing text-level work. Line editing should always come before copy editing, not after or at the same time.
An example of editing in stages
Here’s a writer’s original passage:
The toothless hag hissed; spraying blood over her furowed chin and the bouquet of leafy twigs she proffered. Her drooping body was covered with vines. He took them from her and she screamed to curdle the blood in his heart.
Here’s what a line editor would do to improve the passage:
The toothless hag hissed; spraying blood over her furowed chin and the bouquet of leafy twigs she proffered. Vines covered hHer drooping body was covered with vines. He took accepted them twigs from her and she screamed, to curdlingethe his blood in his heart.
Reads better, doesn’t it? But editing isn’t complete. A copy editor would clean it up like this:
The toothless hag hissed,; spraying blood over her furowed furrowed chin and the bouquet of leafy twigs she proffered. Vines covered her drooping body. He accepted the twigs from her and she screamed, curdling his blood.
Even better. A proofreader would use a fine-toothed comb to ensure the final edited paragraph was the best it could be:
The toothless hag hissed, spraying blood over her furrowed chin and the bouquet of leafy twigs she proffered. Vines covered her drooping body. He accepted the twigs from her, and she screamed, curdling his blood.
Granted, inserting a necessary comma isn’t much of a change in a single paragraph, but proofreaders find and fix many other minor issues in a whole manuscript.
Important: You should complete both developmental and line editing before you query agents or traditional publishers. If you’ll be self-publishing, you should complete all editing stages (developmental, line, and copy editing; then proofreading) before putting your book on the market. (Although, even if your book is already on the market, you may have the manuscript edited at some level and re-upload the corrected content.)
As a comprehensive editor of dark fiction, I supplement every level of editing with an editorial letter that explains and provides context for comments and edits I’ve made in your marked-up manuscript.
The bottom line
What you want most of all is a seasoned editor who understands the differences between the four levels of editing and who can explain what each will do to improve your dark fiction.
When you’re ready to take the next step to improve your writing, I can evaluate your manuscript, discuss your options with you, and lead you through the process of producing a polished piece of dark fiction. For more information, check out Dark Fiction Editing.
What an editor can—and cannot—do (and that includes me)
An editor can:
Tell you why your story doesn’t work.
Show you how to fix what needs fixing.
Improve your story so that it reaches its full potential.
Help you become a better, more skilled writer.
An editor cannot:
Fix your manuscript for you.
Guarantee anything, especially publication.
It’s up to you to make (or not make) the suggested changes. And, although no editor can guarantee publication, I can move you closer to your goals. Every edit is a learning experience that will help you become a better writer.
If you don’t know what kind of editing you need
Not sure what level of editing would benefit you most? Read through the following list and pick one or two that best represent your situation.
If you’ve completed a story and want an analysis of story elements, revealing what’s working, what isn’t, plus suggestions for improvement, you need manuscript evaluation.
If you simply need a sounding board to discuss your idea, get an opinion about your approach to writing, and ask writing craft questions, you need story coaching (which I provide through video consultation).
If you have an incomplete idea or unfinished manuscript you’re unsure what to do with, you need story coaching or developmental editing to help you complete a solid draft.
If you’ve finished an early draft of a work and need help to solidify it at the story level, you need developmental editing.
If you’ve completed a manuscript and think it’s pretty good but you want it streamlined and tightened, you need line editing.
If your manuscript has been through line editing, you need copy editing.
If your manuscript has been through the previous levels, you need proofreading.
If your manuscript has been through all the above, congratulations! You’re ready to submit or self-publish.
If you’re still not sure what kind of editing you need or have questions, contact me and ask. We’ll figure something out that will best serve you, your story, and your writing career.
You’ve been toying with a deliciously dark story idea but need professional direction before and during the writing process. Or you’ve drafted pages you’d like an opinion on before continuing your work.
Perhaps you’re nowhere near a polish; your manuscript needs evaluation and suggestions on the story level before you finalize writing.
Could be you’ve finished a short story, novelette, novella, or novel. Bravo! Now it’s time to polish your work for submission or self-publication. But, if you’re honest with yourself, you’re not so good at it.
Although you’ve done all you know to improve your dark fiction, you remain under-published—you’re still not getting those acceptances you long for. Or, if you’ve self-published, reviewers complain about mistakes in your writing. Cringe.
Is your writing as good as it could be?
Hey, we all know getting published is tough. But is the quality of your storytelling—or the way you write—prompting rejection?
If so, you could benefit from the services of a seasoned professional who specializes in editing dark fiction.
Why hire an editor?
You need editing:
When you don’t know what’s wrong with your writing or how to fix it
To give your readers an optimal reading experience, one that brings them back for more
What’s wrong with my writing?
If you’re just getting started writing dark fiction, you’re perplexed about why a manuscript isn’t working, or you’re less than stellar at self-editing, consider hiring a fiction editor. A qualified, professional editor can help you find what’s amiss in your manuscript, why it’s causing problems, and how to fix it.
As a teaching writer and editor, I’ll bring not only 35+ years of experience to bear on your project, but share the tools in my toolbox with you. This means I’ll review your work to identify areas for improvement and explain how to fix them—thus helping you become a better, more successful writer.
Why not give readers your best?
You also need editing because your readers deserve your best. Today’s discerning book buyers want stories that are engaging and error-free. (Just check the reviews of most self-published books, and you’ll see what I mean.)
Top-notch editing ensures you’re sharing the best version of your story—one that will entertain readers without distracting them with narrative blunders. A great story told well (free of grammar and spelling mistakes, of course) encourages repeat readers who’ll tell others about your work.
Are you ready for editing?
You are if the story you’re writing is important to you, and you realize you can’t do it on your own.
But first, let me ask…
Which of these 5 dark fiction writers are you most like?
Needs this kind of editing
I dig reading horror and have always wanted to write the kind of stories I love. If only I could come up with worthwhile ideas… I’ve tried writing stories from the few ideas I have gotten, but what I put on paper didn’t match the story in my head. I’m not sure if my latest piece has the right structure. (Heck, I’m not exactly sure what structure is. Or plot.)
Because I’ve been, well…, less than successful, I put off developing the few dark ideas I do get. I’d give my eye teeth to turn a dynamite idea into a finished story. Others have done it. How do I get there?
I’m what they call a pantser—somebody who writes “by the seat of their pants.” When a dark idea inspires me, I hit the keyboard to see where it takes me. But I’ll admit that my method, although exciting at first, honestly isn’t working so well. In fact, I’ve got a computer folder full of unfinished short stories. Ugh. I’d love to write a novel, but if I don’t finish most short stories, well….
How do I learn to write a story (or a novel—someday!) that jumps all the hurdles from start to finish? (Key word, finish.) Is there a way to “The End” for me?
I’ve written a lot of stories and even sold a few. Go, me! But those happy acceptances are unfortunately few and far between. I usually get form rejections—who doesn’t nowadays? But once in a while I’ll receive a personal note about flat characters, predictable plots, or faulty mechanics. I know I need help with sentence structure and grammar; those things aren’t my forte.
But is my story content complete and engaging? Are my attempts at structure and plot working for or against me? I don’t want to get a piece copy edited if my execution of story elements is flawed. That would be like polishing a turd. Help!
I’ve been placing stories regularly for a couple of years now. But not with the professional-paying markets I want to break into. (I need those markets so that my work reaches a larger audience, which, I hope, will pave the way to land an agent or a publishing contract—fingers crossed.)
My last story rejection recommended I pursue “sentence-level editing.” (Apparently, the magazine editor either didn’t want to do it or considered that whipping my story into shape would prove too much work for her tight schedule.) Ultimately, I’d like to learn how to fix my own problems. Can I get a leg up to the next level?
I’m a strong writer. (After twenty years of study and practice, that is.) With each piece of fiction I write, I spin a solid yarn and apply my skills to hone each paragraph and sentence into a form that communicates what I want to say. Some readers tell me I do a decent job of conveying tone and mode. But other reviewers complain about grammar mistakes and typos.
I don’t want one- or two-star reviews (ouch!) to sink my overall ratings—that jeopardizes sales! Trouble is, I went over that piece a dozen times, and I still didn’t catch everything. Grrr! To do better, I need a second pair of eyes.
Whether you’re one of the writers above, somewhere in between, or totally “off the charts,” so to speak, I’d love to help you become a better dark fiction writer.
Haven’t you spent enough effort writing stories that fall flat with readers or, worse yet, get dinged in reviews? It’s time to kiss your current plateau goodbye and advance your storytelling and writing skills. Maybe there’s a deadline you need to meet with the best story you can submit.