In addition to writing, I love helping other writers make their work the best it can be.  I enjoy working with all fiction genre and occasionally edit non-fiction. Though I prefer content/developmental work, if all you want is copy editing, that’s fine, too.

My most prolific client has given permission to show an example of our work together. This novel was her first to go into a second printing and garnered praise and recommendations from several genre publications. Below is the opening page of Never Trust a Pirate by Valerie Bowman. The underlined words would be highlighted in Word’s “track changes,” while the bracketed numbers correspond to comments shown below each paragraph (which would be word balloons in “track changes” format).

London Harbor, July 1817

Only three steps[V1]. Only three steps separated him from the map. It was there, lying on the rickety wooden table in the captain’s stateroom aboard a ship aptly named Le Secret Francais[V2] . The only sound in the cramped space was his breathing[V3] . Sweat beaded his brow. He’d braved the murky, cold water, swam out to the ship harbored[V4] at the London docks[V5]. Climbed aboard silent as a wraith, dressed all in black. Wrung out his clothing to keep it from dripping so there wouldn’t be a trail. Managed to steal into the captain’s quarters as the man slept, and now, now only three steps remained between him and the priceless map. I’ll secure that map or die trying.[V6] 

 [V1]Great opening. You’ve hooked the reader immediately.

 [V2]Not sure you need this so close up front. It’s not important to the immediate action.

 [V3]The captain’s not breathing? If the captain’s breath is silent, the thief’s breathing must be entirely too loud.

 [V4]“moored” is the more correct term

 [V5]If it’s at the dock, why did he need to swim? The London docks had anti-theft measures, so make it clear the ship is at anchor. Also, a few words explaining what a French ship is doing in an English harbor so soon after the war might be informative.

 [V6]Redundant. You’ve already shown us how much he wants it.

One water droplet fell noiselessly to the wooden plank floor like a hammer pounded [V7] against steel. The breathing in the room echoed to a crescendo. The blood rushing past his ears [V8] became a distracting whirring.

[V7] Doesn’t make sense. No pounding hammer is noiseless. (You don’t need “pounded” anyway.)

 [V8]Past? Externally? If you delete “pounded” above, you could say “the blood pounding in his head” and the reader will know the sound whirrs in his ears without mentioning ears.

One step forward. The ball of his naked foot ground onto the plank. Stealth and silence. Always. The calling cards of the best thief [V9] in London.

 [V9]By whose standards? Here might be a good place to give his name/nickname.

The captain stirred in his bunk.

He froze. One leather-clad foot [V10] arrested on the wooden plank.  A pistol rested on two nails directly over the captain’s bunk. If the man awoke, he might shoot first at any noise. The captain well knew the value of the cargo[V11]  he carried.

 [V10]Whose foot is this? The captain’s? Three lines above, the thief’s foot is naked.

 [V11]We never learn what this cargo is. Surely it’s much more than just a map. If the map is the ship’s most valuable item, maybe calling it a treasure would be more accurate.

The moon shone through the window above the captain’s bed, shedding light on the man’s bald head. His snores [V12] filled the small room.

 [V12]Whoa. Earlier the only sound was the thief’s breathing.

He counted to ten. Once. Twice. He had long mastered the art of keeping footing on a ship. He waited until his heartbeats became steady again before taking the second step. A slight creak in the wood[V13] . A hint of movement from the captain. Another endless wait[V14] .

 [V13]Which wood? The floor, the walls (bulkheads), the ceiling (overhead), the bunk (berth)? There’s wood all around him.

 [V14]Need emotion here. Worse anxiety? Impatience? Stark terror? An urge to slit the captain’s throat?

I love helping authors in almost all fiction genre, and have worked on some non-fiction. Contact me and together we can make your own work even better than it already is.

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