Master the Craft of Writing a Novel
I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.—Flannery O’Connor
If you’re a new or emerging author of fiction, you’re in the right place. As a book editor and story coach, I specialize in working with early-career authors via story coaching, developmental editing (story editing), manuscript critiques, and line editing. I also show authors how to get their ideas on the page with coaching on the storytelling and narrative techniques of fiction.
I’ll help you find your book’s story, from the thick, deeply internal stories of literary fiction to the explosive narratives of genres such as action-adventure. I’m interested in characters overcoming significant problems and making remarkable journeys of change. I also enthusiastically work with plot-driven situational novels in action genres. I do not work with slice-of-life, stream of consciousness, or experimental fiction, nor do I work with books resting on frameworks other than plot and story.
My fees align with the industry-standard rates for book editors posted by the Editorial Freelancers Association. Please see the rates for developmental and line editing—fiction and developmental editing/book doctoring (for coaching).
I will always remember, Lisa told me I had a ‘manuscript-length discussion of theme’ . . . all the icing and decoration but no cake! I needed to crack some more eggs. She has a great sense of humour, too!—J.C. Thomas
During manuscript editing, feedback is made directly on your manuscript via annotations using Track Changes and comments in Microsoft Word. A comprehensive editorial report (usually twenty pages or more) not only recommends ways to strengthen your book but shows you how to do it. Finish with a one-on-one follow-up consultation via email, phone, or Skype.
The first level of manuscript editing helps you expand and strengthen your storytelling and narrative technique. This edit covers effective use of point of view, dialogue tags and action beats, characterization, dramatic tension, exposition and description, theme, balancing scene vs. exposition vs. dialogue, transitions, hooks, scene structure, and more. This edit may also begin to address the flow and quality of the writing and help you hone your writing style and authorial voice.
I learned so much during the process, and I am certain I’m a much better writer from having worked with her.—Karen Cimms
The next level of manuscript editing zooms in on the writing. This paragraph- and sentence-level editing most closely compares to a combination of line editing and copyediting. It’s designed to polish your writing, strengthening your individual voice and style while clarifying grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage.
Who It’s For: Manuscript editing is suitable for fully revised manuscripts that have been through multiple drafts and are ready for professional attention. For help with early drafts, please consider partial editing or coaching.
A partial edit is an edit of a single section of your novel, from twenty pages to the first full quarter of your novel up to the first turning point.
A partial is like a short course in fiction writing technique, giving you hands-on feedback at a manageable scale. It’s an intense burst of feedback, with far more value than a prorated edit on a similar number of words from a full edit; a first quarter edit, for example, provides much more value than one-fourth of a full edit. You’ll get direct feedback on how you’re using point of view, narrative tense, dialogue content and mechanics, character arcs, character motivation and conflict, characterization, dramatic tension, pacing, and writing style.
Use a partial edit as a springboard to DIY revision on the rest of your manuscript. Partials are a great way to identify and correct issues with elements such as point or view or dialogue mechanics that can be hell on wheels to revise once you’ve bricked them into an entire manuscript. Finish with a one-on-one follow-up phone or video consultation.
Who It’s For: A partial edit is a smart choice for authors seeking to polish their first pages for query and submission; authors who need a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not working in their writing; and new-to-fiction writers seeking to solidify their narrative technique.
The Plot Accelerator: A Developmental Edit in a Bottle
I love how you’ve distilled all these approaches … into a practical guide. Your material takes it from theory to practice. Brilliant!—Scott Jarol
Ever get the feeling that something in your story just isn’t working?
No more crossing your fingers, slogging through 80,000-plus words, and handing over your manuscript to an editor to “fix.” The Plot Accelerator gives you insight into the principles underlying your instinctual story choices.
The Plot Accelerator is eight revelatory weeks of story coaching that translates your creative ideas into tangible manuscript goals. It’s not a course; you’ll spend more time analyzing, discussing, and developing your story with me than you will on theory and technique. Start with compact written tutorials—no time-consuming video course sessions to plow through—and then we’ll apply these principles to your story.
Now you can make informed creative choices.
Now you can see what your reader feedback was really getting at.
Now you can make sense of your editor’s recommendations.
After completing the Plot Accelerator course with Lisa … here’s to words that grow organically! Stories shouldn’t be forced. Motivation drives the characters. Characters drive the action! Action and reaction IS the story.—J. C. Thomas
- Find out how to stop writing for yourself and start writing for the readers you want to buy your book.
- Choose the point of view that supports the story, not the one that “feels right” or that you just like best.
- Find out why narrative tense works precisely opposite of the way you probably assumed.
- Discover how character motivation and conflict drive every aspect of your story.
- Learn how stories are about characters happening to the plot, not a plot happening to the characters.
- Develop a character arc that reveals the story beneath the plot—or find out why your story doesn’t need a character arc of change and what to do instead.
The Plot Accelerator has been described as a developmental edit in a bottle. Accelerator story coaching takes about eight weeks.
I highly recommend the Plot Accelerator to authors as one of the best investments you can make in your writing career.—Vikki Walton
Do you take your writing one thing at a time? How about three? In a triage audit, I’ll look through your manuscript to identify the top three ways to strengthen your book.
You’ll get a report explaining each issue, plus recommendations for strengthening your manuscript, suggestions for alternative approaches, and resources for more reading.
Who It’s For: A triage audit is for authors seeking to target and improve the three largest issues in their storytelling and writing techniques. Triage audits are $79.
Need More Help? Try Coaching
Is your story stuck? Does point of view or narrative tense have you tangled up in knots? Do you wish you had someone to show you exactly what you need to know to ramp up your fiction writing technique?
Coaching provides one-on-one support from story development through editing—all at your own pace. Get your manuscript off the ground with story coaching designed to accelerate your ideas onto the page. Support that with ongoing monthly coaching. You’ll absorb the storytelling and writing techniques to fully express your creative intentions while completing your novel in the process.
Find out if story coaching is right for you.
It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.—Ernest Hemingway
Looking for an editor to accelerate your journey from new writer to emerging author? That editor could be me. Or maybe you want a story coach to steer you through story development and writing; I can help you with that, too.
If you’re ready to accelerate your novel, let’s work together.