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.
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.