A Literary Editor Reviews My Stories

I sent the prologue (I call it Chapter Zero) of my novel, and two short stories to Zymbol editor Anne James for editing. I got this as a reward for contributing to an Indiegogo campaign last year. Yeah, took me a while to send them off, I did several rewrites.

(By the way, Zymbol is doing a Kickstarter campaign ending April 27. There are no editing perks this time. But there is Clive Barker stuff! Check it out.)

SHE REALLY MADE MY DAY.

“I’m going to skip over the red pen and focus on the main areas in terms of content editing, because I can see that you’re a highly skilled writer and you don’t need any pointers in terms of proofreading!”

“The stories open in the middle of the action, which captures your reader’s attention. “Chapter Zero” is particularly effective at this, starting with an intriguing bit of dialogue: ‘Your comic book made me cry.’” (That was Katsuko “Kittygirl” Kimura.) Open with action is good advice to any author, NEVER have boring look-at-the-horizon scenes, I hate when movies do that! I did not open in the middle of a slam-bang super-heroic fight. Maybe I’ll try that sometime. Could be fun.

“Technically speaking, your writing is excellent – the sentences flow well, and I don’t have any difficulties with grammar or the usual careless errors I see in most manuscripts. You’re an attentive editor of your own writing — that’s a great skill!”

“The witty banter between characters is genuinely amusing and true-to-character. You really get a sense of who these people are from their speech.”

“Your supporting characters are truly charming. Katsuko and her mother in particular were memorable; I hope they pop up again in other stories. The description of Katsuko’s costume and her giddy excitement were easy to visualize.”

SHE GAVE USEFUL ADVICE.

She wondered what draws Holly to Cal. Answer: the novel brings them together, and they fall head-over-heels in love. Maybe I can emphasize that more in the short stories.

She was disappointed that Chapter Zero did not show where Holly’s powers came from. That was intentional; it is revealed during the scene where Dan Mann and Cal Critbert want discuss the mystery of this superpower about to be channeled into the world, and Holly says they are NOT condescendingly explaining that to her, she already knows it (more than she likes)!

She pointed out I did not explain enough about why Holly and Cal are headed to the Apricot computer center to stop the theft of the A-phone. “The reader doesn’t feel too anxious for Holly and Cal to prevail if they don’t know what evil deed the Karate Queen is trying to perpetrate.” I agree, and I can have some fun by pumping up how important the A-phone could be. Also, when John Glutt enters the scene in Chapter Zero, “Can you show us more of the room? What does it look like once he shoots the web?” She’s right, this is a chance to describe a comic book shop, to geek it up!

Okay, I will not break the fourth wall! My smart nieces also said that joke does not work. She also said I could use fewer sound effects, “a peppering of sound effects gets across the comic book atmosphere.” I will still use some, like Stan Lee and Don Martin.

My time shifts and first-to-third person shifts in the barber story threw her off. So I will change the first to third person. I try to write mostly in close third: get deep into the head of the point-of-view character without saying “I”. I’ll keep the time shifts, removing them would be too much of an overhaul, and I have more stories to write.

She wondered about Holly’s powers, “Do they reveal something about her personality?” Yes. Holly gets the all-time biggest superpower of all (along with flight and super-strength/toughness): super-strong telekinesis. Remember The Great and Powerful Turtle for the Wild Cards series? Holly will be the Superman of her world, and she gets the biggest power of all. Holly hates bullies in any form.

SHE ASKED WHERE MY STORIES WILL GO.

She said Zymbol would not be the right fit for my stories. I agree. I have planned to go the Kindle self-publish path. But I will also look for other paths, maybe in the comic book geek crowd, or young female crowd, or fantasy/sci-fi. “Have you given thought to your ideal reader? Who is Holly really written for?” I never wrote for demographics, but I think Holly can find her audience.

THANK YOU, ANNE.

She gave more advice, too much to list here. I will use it.

I am working on a new story due by the end of the month (Fault Zone again). It will be about a week before I implement her comments. I wish I could run more stories past her, but for now, I am pinching pennies. I think I will send my Kittygirl story her way when I give it one more polish, strictly for her enjoyment. Anne liked Katsuko and her mom, and they show up again.

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One thought on “A Literary Editor Reviews My Stories

  1. Pingback: I am being HONOR(able mention)ED! And published again. | Dave M. Strom: author of Holly Hansson, superheroine & writer

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