Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Adding "Color" to Your Work

A sneak peek at Book 6 of my Regency Warrior series

Hopefully, debuting around the second week of July

~ * ~


I am in final edits of The Abominable Major, Book 6 in my Regency Warrior series. And in every edit since the very first, I have kept an eye out for "color." Have I painted not only a clear picture of the scene, but have I given it enough details, enough vivid color to make it memorable? Fortunately, on this next-to-the-last run-through, the answer was mostly "yes." 

But even after forty books, it's a constant problem. We rush ahead, all too often following that English hunting expression: get over the ground as lightly as you can, when we really need to stop and smell the flowers. Take the time to add that extra daub of paint that turns our work from ordinary to masterpiece. (And yes, I'm mixing my metaphors, but anything it takes to make a point!

Over eight years of Mosaic Moments, I've spent a good deal of time on the importance of in-depth characterization, but Adding Color has to come close behind in a list of what's needed to make your manuscript come alive. So let's take a look at what I mean . . .

Main Characters
Physical descriptions are needed early on, hopefully with some hint of the person's inner character and aspirations. When possible—when it fits into the story—describe what your main characters are wearing, preferably making their choices part of who they are. (For example, a dress can be gorgeous or it can be vulgar.) Make sure readers can truly visualize that Regency gown, biker leathers, a uniform, a too-skimpy top, those torn jeans . . .

Secondary Characters
Give important Secondary Characters the same treatment as your Main Characters. The hero's third-best biker friend, however, may need little more than a mention, as does the kitchen maid in an Historical Romance who plays no significant role in the story.

The days when novels began with long descriptions of a house, countryside, or other setting seem to have passed into oblivion. Which absolutely, positively does not mean that Setting doesn't count! Although it's become common to begin a book with an action scene or with a flurry of dialogue, Setting is still vital. Somewhere near the beginning of each scene you must make it clear exactly where your Point-of-View characters is. Settings which keep recurring in a book are in particular need of detailed descriptions that allow readers to picture the backdrop behind the action. The same for settings where important events occur. Even if it's a one-time setting—perhaps an alley where a robbery or murder is about to occur—a vivid description of the setting will greatly enhance the action to come. No, it doesn't have to be long—it just has to be there, enough to give your readers the shivers.

Setting Examples:

Wedding. What is a grand wedding without the setting? Not just the bride and groom, but the church or great outdoors, the guests, the reception, champagne corks popping, the music of the band, the fight between Aunt Nellie and her ex . . .

Battle scene. Not just what characters are fighting and why, but, Where are they fighting? What weapons are they using? Add the color of the uniforms, the smell of gunpowder, the screams of the horses, the boom of cannon, the blood . . . 

A Regency Ball. Not just clever dialogue, a country dance, and a waltz, but candles sparkling the crystals in the chandeliers, the orchestra tuning up, the kaliedoscope of colors in the swirling gowns, the never-ending chatter, the heat . . .

Weather. Are your characters outside or inside? Is the sun shining? Is it raining hard or just a mizzle? Is it warm, hot, cold, icy? Do your characters need an umbrella, a poncho, hip boots . . . ?

The Abominable Major - Chapter 2, opening paragraph
I could have written:  
Fortunately, it snowed the night before the troika race, covering the ground with six inches of new snow.

Instead, I wrote:
As if Prince Konstantin Dmitrievich Turov had the power to command the heavens, snow fell steadily from dusk on Friday until dawn on Saturday, covering the ugliness of old snow with a pristine six-inch blanket of white. The clouds dissipated, the sun shone bright, coating both city and countryside in crystalline splendor. The Countess Alexandrova peered out her window at the fairyland world and drew a deep breath of satisfaction Merveilleux! To ride in a sleigh again . . . a sleigh speeding across sparkling snow behind three powerful horses . . .

In addition to Physical Descriptions and Settings, there are other areas of writing that need color.

Sounds. Water, for example, is not simply blue or gray or wet. It flows, ripples, rushes, plunges, cascades, waterfalls . . . Birds sing, creatures rustle in the grass. Cacophony rules a room full of people. Rather than a simple "cry," try sob, wail, a torrent of tears. Instead of the overused "jog" or "trot," use the thump, thunder, or the clip-clop of horses' hooves. The roar of jet engines, the high-pitched scream of a fire siren . . .

Smell and Taste. Not just "He ate a slice of pie," but "The scent, like the apple pie his Gramma used to bake, drew him to the kitchen. Ah . . . tasted like it too. Warm, with sugar and a dash of cinnamon. He finished it down to the last crumb." 

Grace note: My mother told me about an expression her Grandmother Kelly used. Though it's never passed my lips, it makes a vivid illustration of using colorful "sound." Referring to some really nasty smell: "That's enough to stink a dog off a gut wagon!"

Action. There's seldom a problem with this one, as almost everyone realizes they need to write strong, colorful narrative in order to make an action scene come alive. Nonetheless, it's a challenge to give readers enough vivid and juicy details so they can see what you see. One author who writes truly outstanding Action scenes is Lindsay Buroker. Her Emperor's Edge series has the the most hair-raising action scenes I've ever read. (And I've read the entire series twice.) If you need guidance on writing a good action scene, I recommend taking a look at her work. 

General Narration. Even Dialogue tags can be considered "Narration." There was a time when Harlequin/Silhouette dictated the use of nothing more than "said" and "asked" as Dialogue tags, declaring that anything more "distracted" from what was being said. A philosophy I've never been able to understand. There are so many colorful verbs out there, just waiting to add color to your dialogue: stammered, burbled, whispered, huffed, wailed, shouted, hissed, exclaimed, and on and on ad infinitum. 

     Introspection the thoughts and feelings of the character with the Point of View—is yet another aspect of General Narration. These inner emotions can be minimally stated, clear but dull, or they can be enhanced by adding color. An example from my WIP, The Abominable Major

I could have written (re the Countess Alexandrova):
[She] had ample time to reflect on the events of the long months since the death of her husband. Most particularly her decision to flee Russia.

Instead, I wrote:
[She] had ample time to reflect on the events of the long months since the death of her husband. Most particularly her decision to flee to the freedom of an island so small the great Russian steppes could have swallowed it without so much as a burp.

     Other. Even if you're doing no more than describing someone walking across a room, unless the added color detracts from the main purpose of the scene, try to keep it interesting. (He slouched, she exited with dignity, etc. . . . ) But always keep in mind that frequently "less is more." For example, in action scenes and in dramatic moments, a simple "He walked to the door" works, because it states a vital fact without detracting from the more important things that are going on.

There are as many ways to add color to your writing as there are facets to your imagination. If you didn't take the time to do it the first time around, be sure to keep an eagle eye out for lost opportunities while editing. In some scenes I keep layering in the coloring even to third and fourth edits. 

Never forget that "color" in all its aspects is vital. Without it, your readers are likely to be asleep by the third chapter. And never buy your second book.

Never be afraid to "play" with that first draft. Never be so confident that you think the first time around was the best you can do. (Yes, an occasional scene will be "gold" from the moment it makes it to the screen, but the experience of writing 40+ books, tells me most scenes will need tweaking; some will need major revision—not just once but twice or more. 

And when you revise,NEVER think it's because you're stupid! Good writing is hard work. Why do you think it took Margaret Mitchell ten years to write Gone With the Wind?

Take pride in what you do. Stop, think. Don't let your work sink softly into the night. Make your work glow!

~ * ~ 

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author page,

For a link to Blair's website, click here. 

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, June 22, 2019

2019 Index to Grace's Writing & Editing Posts

Sharks' teeth & mammoth bones from a creek c.25 mi. south of Venice, FL
Fossilized sharks' teeth can be anywhere from 10,000 years old to 5-7 millions years old, 
depending on what sediment they're found in.

The fossil hunters

Family fossil hunters, now on the hunt in So. Carolina
Hailey, on the left, enjoying the trip, if not the fossil-hunting!

Tooth-hunting in SC looking very much like hunting in Florida

Fossils, So. Carolina (not the entire haul). Note the penny for size.
For my foreign readers: the U. S. penny is c. 15.87mm (5/8 inch).

Birds - Folly Beach, SC

The photos above are courtesy of the Reale family. Taken over the last two weeks since school let out here in Florida - the results of a trip to the Peace River area, south of Venice, FL, and a family excursion to South Carolina.

~ * ~

January 2011 - June 2019

Note: Topics with more than one post in the series are in Bold type.


WRITING WORKSHOP (9 parts) - 12/6/14 - 6/28/15
[Ideas, Fresh Twists, Research, Title, Names, Opening & Hooks, Plot, Goals, Motivation, Conflict, Setting, Characters, Narration, Dialogue, Pacing, Point of View, Transitions, Mechanics, Self-editing, & Questions to ask yourself before declaring your work “finished.”]

Birth of a Book - 12/1/18 & 1/26 19
Formatting a Manuscript - 5/9/11
Nuts & Bolts, Part 1 (grammar, punctuation) - 5/16/11
Nuts & Bolts, Part 2 (punctuation, helpful books) - 6/16/11
Back to Basics - Punctuating Dialogue - 10/7/17 & 10/14/17
Tab conversion (from manual to auto) - 8/5/11
Using Italics - 2/15 & 2/22, 2014
Using Capitals - 4/12 & 4/19, 2014
Manuscript Format for the 21st Century - 5/6/12
Writing No-No’s - 5/28/12
Character Identification - 5/5/18
Creating a Hero - 7/21/18
Creating a Heroine - 7/28/18
Creating Secondary Characters - 9/8/18 & 9/22/18
Too Many Characters, Too Much Plot - 3/2/19
Point of View - 6/18/12, 12/9/17, 8/4/18, 8/25/28, 9/1/18 & 10/13/18
Dictionary for Writers (5 parts) - 2/4 - 4/7, 2013
Layering - 6/30/13
Layering, a Writing Technique - 7/16/16
Dangling Participles - 7/7/13
Misused Pronouns - 5/1/218
Show vs. Tell - 7/21 & 7/28, 2013; 2/16/19
Notes on Writing Dialogue - 2/10/18
Playing with Tags - 3/19/16
The Colon is Down but Not Out - 2/24/18
Writing Fragments - 3/10/18
Varying Sentence Structure - 3/24/18
Treacherous Words - 8/11/13
Examples of How Not to Write - 2/2/19
The Difference a Word Makes - 9/1/13
“Modern” Punctuation - 9/15/13
Questions to Ask Yourself - 10/13/13
Third Person vs. First (2 parts) - 5/31 & 6/8/14
Rules for Romance - 9/18/11 & 10/16, 2011
Rule-Breaking (3 parts) - 6/21 - 7/5/14
Don’t Be a “Rule” Slave (adverbs) - 5/6/17
Organizing the Out-of-the-Mist Author - 7/9/16
Out-of-the-Mist Oops - 8/9/17
Writing "Out of the Mist - Again" - 11/24/18
To Be or Not to Be (was & were) - 5/27/17
Attitudes Toward Point of View - 2/20/16
Point of View - 12/9/17
Synopsitis - 4/7/18
Mystery vs. Gothic - 10/22/16
When "Suspended Disbelief" Doesn't Work - 5/15/19
Telltale Signs of Amateur Writing - 10/1/16
How Not to Write a Book - 12/20/12
How Not to Write a Book - 4/4/15
How to Write a Bad Book - 3/12/17
A Rant & a Revamp - 6/23/28
Ranting on Subtleties - 5/4/19
What is Women’s Fiction? - 6/25/17 & 7/1/17
More on Women’s Fiction - 11/4/17
Shortcut Codes for Writers - 5/16/18

What you need to discover about your characters - 10/15/2012
More questions about your characters - 10/29/12
The Rest of the Story - 11/5/12

Character Development (3 parts) - 11/7 & 12/5, 2015 & 2/6/16
Character Development - the Unexpected (2 parts) - 8/20 & 8/27, 2016
What’s in a Name? - 3/18/17
The Nitty Gritty of Names - 4/30/17

WORLD-BUILDING series (4 parts) - 12/28/13 - 2/1/14
   [a look at the problem of creating a whole new world]

WRITING A SERIES (5 parts) - 1/21/17 - 2/18/17. Why Write a Series? “Single Title,” “Cliff-Hangers,” “Mixed Approach” & Summary +
Update on Series - 12/30/17
The Problems of Wrapping Up a Series - 4/14/18


EDIT THE BLASTED BOOK - 4/1/12, 4/28/12, 5/6/12, 5/28/12, 6/18/12, 8/5/12 & 8/19/12
Intro to Self-editing - 4/1/12
Should You Hire Help? - 4/28/12
Anatomy of an Edit - 8/5 & 8/19, 2012
I Ran Spell Check, I’m Done, Right? (self-editing) - 7/2/11
The Final Steps (self-editing) - 7/14/11
A Tale of Three Books - 9/24/16
The Difference a Word Makes - 10/15/16
More Thoughts on Final Edits - 11/5/16
Editing & Holiday Musing - 12/ 30/16
Editing Scold - 12/4/13
Misused Words (2 parts) - 10/4 & 10/25, 2014
More on Editing - 5/3/14
Editing Examples (4 parts) - 8/8, 8/23, 8/30 & 9/13, 2015
Editing Examples 2018 - 1/27/18
Editing Examples 2019 - 3/16/19 & 6/1/19
Copyediting Challenges (7 parts) - 8/29/15 - 10/31/15 + 4/3/16
The Tricks to Track Changes - 1/16/16
Track Changes Update - 9/15/18


Advice for Newbie Authors - 10/27/18
Advice - What's Next?- 11/10/18
Reminiscences of Controversies (3 parts) - 5/13 - 5/26, 2013
     [a look at writing controversies over the past 2 decades]
Guideposts for Critiquing - 1/28/11
Writing Mistakes, Near Misses & Just Plain Strange - 3/4/11
Shortcuts for Writers (ASCII codes) - 3/18/11
Branding - Bah, humbug [writing multi-genre] - 1/21/13
How Does Your Novel Grow? - 4/ 28/13
Word Perfect to Indie Pub - 11/27/13
Questions Fiction Writers Should Ask Themselves - 10/13/13
On Being a Writer - 8/22/15
Running Off at the Keyboard (rant) - 2/13/16
Why I Love E-books (2 parts) - 5/21 & 5/29, 2016
The Sound of Silence - 7/30/16
Transforming Truth Into Fiction - 9/4/16
What’s the Fascination with Fairy Tales? - 4/1/17
Cultural Confusion - 6/10/17
Twisted Times (the influence of today’s news) - 7/16/17
Random Thoughts - Making Changes to Published Works - 2/17/18
Why Writers Must Read! - 4/21/18 

~ * ~ 

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author page, 
with a whimsical Prequel to the Blue Moon Rising series,
click here.

For a link to Blair's website, click here. 

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Tackling Major Edits

Singing a Mom & Daughter duet in church


On Thursday evening our Riley played a jazz solo after only two weeks on the trumpet in Band Camp—well, okay, I admit she's First Chair on the euphonium & also plays the trombone—but even Mom, Dad, and both Grammas were amazed. (Note: the oldest Jazz Band members just finished eighth grade - they will not start high school until mid-August.) To watch, click here.  (FYI, Riley's jazz trumpet solo is about 2 minutes in.)


On the very same night as the band concert—Susie and I made a very rapid trip into the city!—we were privileged to see COME FROM AWAY (with gift tickets). Neither one of us could imagine how anyone could make a "musical" from the events of 9/11, but of course we were proved wrong. In truth, it's a lengthy one-act opera with the most amazing ensemble singing, writing, and staging I have ever seen. (And I have an Equity card to prove my long years associated with the theater.) Basically, it's the story of what happened on 9/11 when American airspace was shut down and all planes from Europe were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland. (I assume there's a very thoroughly researched book behind the script.) It was a performance as moving as it was professional in every sense of the word, prompting every person in the audience to jump to their feet with a standing ovation. If this so-called "musical" comes your way, don't miss it!

~ * ~

While editing the Examples section of my blogs on Writing and Editing into book form, I ran into a post from 2014 that I felt could bear repeating. In recounting my troubles with Sorcerer's Bride, I seem to have covered many of the things we all miss while rushing on to what happens next. So, from September 13, 2014 . . .


In the spring of 2014 I finished the second of a three-book SciFi series contracted to Ellora's Cave, and after what I thought was my customary careful editing, I submitted it well before deadline. It was only several months later, when my Blue Moon Rising series was orphaned by EC shutting down its Blush line and I was forced to prepare my first query letter in years, that I discovered Sorcerer's Bride was 11,000 words shorter than Book 1, Rebel Princess. Surprise!

My first reaction was that the months directly before and after spending a week in the hospital were probably not the best time to write a worthy book. Sigh. So before I even looked at the manuscript, I sat down and made a list of things I suspected needed expansion. And, yes, I was amazed at how fast they hit me in the face when I stopped to think about it, even though I hadn't seen the manuscript in four months. 

Fortunately, when I settled down to yet another head-to-tail reading of Sorcerer's Bride, I discovered all was not lost. Most of the book read well, but, yes, I had missed emphasizing some important moments. And overall, there were quite a few places that needed more depth. These were not short revisions—many of them ran to a full page or more. Obviously, not something that can be shown here. But I will attempt to explain why—beyond simply increasing the word count—I added what I did.

Qualifying an absolute.

My son, the SciFi buff, was the first to notice that I had made the visions of a fey young teen who doesn't talk too absolute. I had left no room for suspense. Perhaps his graphic visions of the future were only wishful thinking, not unquestionable prognostications. And my son was right. There is no suspense if you have a character who is infallible.

Solution: I added three paragraphs near the beginning in which one of his sisters questions his visions. And added another bit of doubt near the end.

Failure to paint a complete picture.

In the pageantry of a court scene I concentrated so hard on the hero and heroine that I failed to describe some very important secondary characters in the hero's entourage.

Solution: I added a description of the hero's mistress in her disguise as a well-dressed but dull, middle-aged diplomat. I also mentioned the hero's two bodyguards. All three are important secondary characters and should not have been skipped when they made their initial appearance, no matter how well disguised they were at the time.

Another inadequate description.

The sentence, "She'd beg her mother not to go into the crystal shop . . .," left readers hanging, a true "Huh?" moment. Okay, maybe if readers remembered the heroine's first visit to the crystal shop and made the association, but really, that's a stretch.

Solution: Seven paragraphs that included the heroine's sharp introspection, doubts, and a better description of the shopping excursion.

A major moment sloughed off with a passive, after-the-fact description.

Evidently daunted by the task of describing what the heroine does the night she tries out her newly discovered psychic gift, I chickened out and described the aftermath, not the action. A true no-no.

Solution: I added sixteen paragraphs of not only what the heroine did, but I emphasized her growing loss of control, her eagerness to do something totally against the principles instilled in her since childhood. Creating a much stronger message, which was vital to the plot, as the dichotomy between her upbringing which treasures life and her part in a rebellion that is forced to take life is a constant problem.

Sex scene revisions.

Book 1 in the Blue Moon Rising series is a true love-at-first-sight story. Two people who dreamed of each other through four years of separation. The romance in Sorcerer's Bride was much harder to write. A hero and heroine forced to marry by royal edict. A heroine who must play third-fiddle to her husband's first love (her own sister) and to his long-time mistress. The hero, a sorcerer who has begun to realize why most of his kind stay celibate! None of which made the sex scenes easy to write.

Solution: I had already used the device of the h/h discovering they were physically attracted to each other in spite of all the drawbacks, but in this new revision I added more dialogue, more introspection, more of two childhood playmates becoming reacquainted. I also added more emphasis to the fact that the sorcerer has to change—grow up, if you will. That he has to become less self-centered, pay more attention to the people around him. Including his unwanted bride. Sometimes these additions ran to a page or two, sometimes only a paragraph. Added throughout the book, I hope they paint a better picture of two people struggling to become a happy couple.

Missed emotions.

I was so busy describing the h/h's wedding, followed by a major action scene in which they rescue hostages from a jail, that I totally missed the wedding night! Perhaps knowing they had already enjoyed each other, I happily skipped from the hostage rescue to the next morning. Oops!

Solution:  No, this wasn't the moment for a grand love scene. Our heroine, the pacifist, has just killed ten men while rescuing the hostages. The emotion she feels is anguish. And her brand new husband must deal with it. Two pages added, attempting to reveal the end of a most unusual wedding night.

Important point missed.

I had a scene in the court of the Emperor that I had not touched since the original. It simply seemed to work the first time around. On a fresh reading, I realized I left out something vital. We are in the Point of View of a five-star admiral who has just aided a battlecruiser and its crew to slip away from their home planet and join the rebellion. And I had him wondering why he has been summoned to court!

Solution:  I added the obvious. The admiral had cause to worry!

Hero's missed emotion.

As part of the hero's redemption, readers need to see that he is learning to control his temper.

Solution:  An added paragraph that describes him reining in his temper when he wants to tear his enemies limb from limb. (And he has a not-so-illusory dragon that can do just that!)

What to do about the hero's witch?

As the story progressed, I realized I couldn't just cast the hero's mistress out into the cold. So even in my initial version she took on a greater role in the story. But on this new reading, I realized she needed to have her Point of View revealed much earlier.

I added an introspection scene in her Point of View just prior to a dramatic event that begins her escalation into a major character, and very likely the heroine of Book 3. (Grace note update: in a totally unintended move, she becomes a major player in the series—one of the many reasons I so enjoy being an “out of the mist” author.)

Better plot & action descriptions needed.

Although I scarcely touched the book's romantic ending on this last edit, the action scene preceding it needed work. There was a too-abrupt switch from the final rebel "rehearsal" to the actual execution of their plans. And insufficient details about the disaster that interrupts their joyous victory celebration.

Solution:  Two setting-the-stage scenes added just before the action scene. And an almost total re-write of the action itself.


With the above major edits, plus bits and pieces added throughout, I added c. 5,000 words. I'm going to put Sorcerer's Bride away for a few weeks before reading it through once again from first page to last to see how all those additions fit in. (I'm hopeful all will be well as the final chapters were so mangled, I had to type up those revisions right way to make sure I'd understood my own scribbles!)

Hopefully, my trials and tribulations, outlined above, will help you find places in your own work where more depth is needed, where you totally missed a reaction that should have been there, or any other of the myriad mistakes we make when we're rushing, rushing, rushing ahead so fast we forget to take a really good look at what we're doing right now.

The modern author must be able to edit his/her own work. And, no, not just because you're indie-publishing. Budgets are so tight and the competition is so stiff that even if you are submitting to one of the major New York print publishers, or to a major e-publisher, no company is going to want to shell out the time and money it takes to edit a badly presented manuscript. You have to be sure you submit a manuscript that is not only properly spelled and punctuated, but one with depth, all the descriptions, emotions, reactions, and evocative dialogue in the right place at the right time.

Moral of the Story. I downloaded a whole bunch of books to my Kindle before going on a week-long cruise—and ended up tossing two of them before the end of the first chapter. I plowed my way through a third because the author had potential—good plot, good characters—but the book was severely marred by multiple mistakes in both historical facts and presentation. And, no, the books weren't all indie-pubbed. One of the ones I chucked to Archives was from a major NY publisher—all "tell" and dull as dishwater. I couldn't believe anyone was still publishing work that reads like a fourth-grade language arts text. Ah well, I can't do much about that, I guess, except refuse to buy any more from that author. But for indie authors and those trying to break into the market, whether NY or e-pub, please, please, please! Don't just write your grand opus and send it off. I beg of you, EDIT THE BLASTED BOOK! Yes, it takes time and anguish, but you'll be glad you did.
And don’t expect the first edit to be enough. It never is.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair's Facebook Author page, 
with a whimsical Prequel to the Blue Moon Rising series,
click here.

For a link to Blair's website, click here. 

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Editing Examples

Next Mosaic Moments - June 15
(struggling with last chapters of The Abominable Major)

Three curly heads on the beach in Venice, Florida

Hailey - 2012



         Now . . .

Hailey - 2019

~ * ~


It's been awhile since I offered concrete examples of what I mean when I talk about editing—what I actually do when I sit down and go over my work, line by line. (As stated in previous blogs, my first two or three edits are done on hardcopy, because this is what works for me. Yes, it's more work to have to type in the scribbles I make on my peinted pages and on legal pad insertions, but I am convinced the changes I make to hardcopy are better than if I attempted to edit on screen. This is, of course, a matter of personal choice. Edit hardcopy, edit online—whatever works for you. Just as long as you DO IT!) 

One advantage of editing hardcopy is that I have a stack of pages with both original and revisions intact so that I can choose a few examples I feel will be most helpful. 😉

All examples are from my current work in progress, The Abominable Major, Book 6 in my Regency Warrior series.

Transitions can be tricky. So many times I find myself adding a few words, perhaps whole sentences to the beginning of a paragraph—because I was simply in too much of a rush the first time, leaping forward rather smoothing the way. Hopefully, the two versions below will demonstrate what I mean. The difference is small, but I felt those few words increased the impact of what I was trying to say.

   The clock ticked, measuring the moments of fraught silence. Coals crumbled, showering sparks as they tumbled through the grate. "Oddly enough . . ." Dasha steepled her hands before her face and offered in a far more deadly tone, "Oddly enough, your edict relates to what I was attempting to say to you."
   A shiver spiked up his spine. Swiftly Court reviewed the last few minutes. He'd been so intent on forbidding a return to 13 Bennett Street, he'd blunder his way into a crisis.

   The clock ticked, measuring the moments of fraught silence. Coals crumbled, showering sparks as they tumbled through the grate. "Oddly enough . . ." Dasha steepled her hands before her face and offered in a far more deadly tone, "Oddly enough, your edict relates to what I was attempting to say to you." 
   Too late Court turned wary, a shiver spiking up his spine. Swiftly he reviewed the last few minutes. He'd been so intent on forbidding a return to 13 Bennett Street, he'd blunder his way into a crisis.


A bit farther down the same page, I have the hero respond with a single, decided "No!" But when I read it over, I realized this short response needed the "something more' every author must look for when editing, no matter how easy it might be to overlook something as simple as "No." With revision, the sentence read:

   "No!" The automatic protest of a gentleman, but of course she was right. Why else had he thought the scandal enough to obscure the sins of Prince Konstantin?

Grace note:  I also scribbled a note to myself to look up the word "automatic" in the Oxford English Dictionary, making sure it was in use during this period. (It was.)


 Editors often talk about "Less is more," but here's another example of "More" being clearer, more dramatic, of just a few additional words making your work better:

 "You cannot possibly mean what I think you mean." Cold. Disapproving. Not the slightest hint of interest. 

"You cannot possibly mean what I think you mean." Cold. Disapproving. Not the slightest hint of interest in what had cost her so much to say. 


Several pages later, my editing slowed to a halt. Oh no. I didn't, I hadn't . . . But I had. Not only had I not said what needed to be said, I'd fallen back on "Tell" mode, taken shortcuts, attempted to move ahead too fast. After considerable struggle, I ended up deleting the offending paragraph and replacing it with three lengthy insertions [c. five paragraphs over the next two pages (which I will not include)]. But here is the paragraph that made me groan and totally rewrite that section of the chapter. Hopefully, you will see why it needed to disappear forever.

   Rage built with every turn of the hackney's wheel from the Colonnade to Bennett Street. After a considerable battle between his sense of duty and his pride, Lord Halliwell had conceded that he owed the Countess Alexandrova an apology for his abrupt departure of the night before. Not only that, but his invitation to Lady Ormonde's musicale had arrived by special messenger, and he and Dasha must discuss the delicate matter of Dasha's return to society in great detail, lest they find themselves in worse case than they already were. Therefore, needs must when the devil rides.

Last example for this week—the importance of adding narrative color as well as clarity to your dialogue. I rewrote this revision even as I selected it as an example. In all, I probably went through four or five versions before I settled on the one below. (Which will likely be rewritten again the next time around, as I'm still not satisfied.) The problem? I showed her displeasure the first time around, but not enough. Not in comparison to what she'd suffered.

   "I can be kidnapped, raped for hours on end," Dasha declared with some heat, "yet you can flaunt the law and all anyone sees is the Marquess of Halliwell, heir to a dukedom."

   The full force of the inequity of the situation burst over her. “When I was kidnapped and raped for hours on end, I was sure to be ruined, the subject of a great scandal,” Dasha declared with no little heat. “Yet the Marquess of Halliwell may flaunt the law—free a prisoner, declare a man dead—without so much as raising an eyebrow. And now you have accomplished your diversion without lifting a finger. I assure you, my lord, you put me in the shade. I sit here, a ghost at the feast.”

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My sole venture into early Steampunk - c. 1840

In a peek at an alternate history, General Lord Wellington has taken over the government and our heroine's marriage of convenience has just tumbled her into a hotbed of rebellion. Available from Amazon, Smashwords, & most other online vendors.
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For a link to Blair's Facebook Author page, 
with a whimsical Prequel to the Blue Moon Rising series,
click here.

For a link to Blair's website, click here. 

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