Feedback For Fiction | Rewriting: What Is it And How Do You Go About It?

Sharing a draft of your novel with anyone for the first time can be scary. The stress of waiting to hear back from your readers or editor, of worrying about what they might say, and wondering if your writing is ready to submit can take its toll.

So why would you share your work with anyone before you’ve revised your first draft, improved it, making sure it’s as good as you can make it before anyone else reads it?

You wouldn’t. That’s why you rewrite.

Rewrite: to write (something) again especially in a different way in order to improve it or to include new information – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

A comprehensive rewrite is the first step in the self-editing process. I’m not talking about copyediting or proofreading. You can do that after you’ve completed your rewrite.

Rewriting your first draft means analyzing your story from a high-level perspective and fixing

Source: Feedback For Fiction | Rewriting: What Is it And How Do You Go About It?


Write Better Fiction: Is Your Scene Anchored?

Today on Write Better Fiction we’ll cover Is Your Scene Anchored? Write Better Fiction is a process to help you critique your own manuscript and give yourself feedback. This will help you improve your novel, so you’re ready to submit it to an editor.

One could argue that asking yourself if your scene is anchored should fall under setting or under plot.

I’ve included scene anchoring under plot because it’s more than setting, and I think it leads well into the next topics we’ll cover, which are hook, development and climax of a scene.

AnchorSo what does it mean to anchor a scene?

The reader needs to know:

  • Who has the point of view
  • Where the character is
  • What the timing of the scene is


We’ve dealt with point of view in detail, so I won’t say much here except you should checkEye whether the reader will know who has the point of view within the first paragraph or at least within the first couple of paragraphs. If not, the reader might find this frustrating. If you write your entire novel from one point of view, like many first person novels, then you don’t need to worry about this.


“Where is your character”“Where is your character” fits under setting. You know where the character is because your wrote the scene, but does your reader? If the reader can’t figure out where the character is within the first couple of paragraphs you may lose them – the reader I mean and not the character. 🙂

There are exceptions to this. If your scene is about a character waking in a dark place and confused about where she is, then it’s okay for the reader to be confused about where she is too. This will add to the tension. The reader does need to understand the lack of setting is done on purpose.


The timing of the scene can mean:Clock

  • Time of day
  • Time passed since last scene
  • A particular date

If several years or several seconds have passed in a characters life, then the reader needs to understand that. If you are jumping back in time or forward in time the reader needs to understand that too. The quicker the reader gets the timing, the quicker they will be drawn into the scene.


The start of a new scene means point of view has changed, the setting has changed, or time has changed, hence every scene needs to be anchored.

Your challenge this week is to ask yourself if every scene in your novel is anchored. Does the reader know who has point of view, where the character is and what time it is?

I critiqued DESCENT and BLAZE using the techniques I’m sharing in Write Better Fiction, and I believe this helped me sign with a publisher.

Please me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions or improvements for anchoring a scene.

Thanks for reading…

Ready to Publish?

The life of a mystery writer is full of twists and turns. Some good. Some not. But here’s a twist that lands in the good category. I’ve signed a two-book publishing contract with Imajin Books for DESCENT and BURNT.

When I began writing my novels, I loved reading blogs about the writing process, about how to write, about how to publish, and about anything else to do with writing. And I still do. Now it’s time to return the favour. Over the next few months (or years), I’ll blog about the publishing experience. I’ll do my best to share what I learn. To give you an idea of what’s coming, here are my first baby steps in working with a publisher.

Step one: Re-launch my website and give it a cleaner look. This is a work in progress, and the updates will keep coming as I go through the publishing process.

Step two: Decide if working titles for DESCENT and BURNT are the final titles.

Step three: It’s a mystery.

Stay tuned . . .

And as usual, thanks for reading.

Before You Submit: Scene Opening and Closing

Do you have a draft of your novel or short story and are thinking of submitting to an agent, publisher or writing contest? My series called Before You Submit might help. The series contains hints and tips I’ve learned from professionals in the publishing industry that I’d like to share.

See Before You Submit:Likeable Characters for the first blog in this series and an introduction the benefits of submitting even if you get a rejection letter.

This week I’ll write about how to start and end scenes throughout a novel without being monotonous.

Sometimes it’s easy to get into a habit and open or close scenes in the same manner.

A dramatic line of dialogue is a great way to hook the reader and keep them reading. But what if you do this every scene? The dramatic tension will decrease. The same goes for other ways to start a scene.

Here are your options for opening and closing a scene.

  1. Dialogue
  2. Narrative
  3. Action
  4. Thought

When you are reviewing your manuscript prior to submitting, make a list of how you enter and exit scenes. I do this in excel so I can graph how many scenes start or finish in each way. The result gives me an idea of whether I’ve used one technique to often or not.

Entering and exiting scenes in a balanced and thought out approach will make your writing more interesting and keep the dramatic tension flowing.

If you have any tips on entering and exiting scenes, please share.

Thanks for reading . . .

Spelling: Canadian Vs. American

I’m confused.

I’m a Canadian and spell Canadian. I’ve spent many hours proofreading my novels to make sure my spelling is consistently Canadian.

I read novels written by Americans and am used to reading American spelling. This can make writing in one or the other difficult. as both ways of spelling look correct. I have my spell checker set to Canadian spelling, but sometimes there is an option and so the spell checker won’t highlight if I’ve slipped into American spelling when both versions may be acceptable.

What I’m saying is I’ve worked hard to keep my spelling consistently Canadian.

Then – and I feel like I should play music here – I attended the Bloody Words Conference in Toronto and a Canadian editor said, “It drives me crazy when the first thing I have to do is change all the Canadian spelling to American. Taking out the ‘u’ gets annoying.”

I didn’t get a chance to talk with her about the comment, but it’s been bothering me ever since.

Do any other Canadian writers out there prefer one way of spelling to another?

Is there a standard in the Canadian publishing industry?

Have I done this the wrong way?

If you’re opinionated on the subject, I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading . . .

He Said/She Said When Reading Aloud

Last Monday, I wrote about reading aloud. I’m on a bit of a discovery mission and figuring out how to do this well.

I think if you’re an actor or have training as an actor, this might come easy to you. For those of us that have only read aloud to children, it’s hard.

After creating a recording of a short story, I quickly discovered listening to a story is different than reading a story.

When a person reads the story they see the paragraph breaks between speakers. This tells them the speaker has changed. When listening the person doesn’t have the visual to aid in understanding the change of character.

So if you’re not a person who can talk in many voices, what do you do?

I’m trying to add he said/she said in the audio version. Sometimes placing the tag before the spoken sentence instead of after of adding the tag near the beginning. For example:

“Thanks,” Bob said. “I need to hear that.”

The other option is to add a character movement or action before they speak. Something simple like: She sighed.

I’m not sure if this is a proper method for reading aloud.

Any suggestions on how to do this?

Thanks for reading . . .

As If Subordinating Conjunctions Can Be Confusing

Did you know if you want to spend a lifetime learning something, punctuation and grammar can give you the opportunity.

This week while proofreading my  novel, I noticed I wasn’t using ‘as if’ consistently. Sometimes I put a comma before the words and sometimes I didn’t.

I noticed this while I was reading on my Kindle. Last week I blogged about How To Avoid Errors In E-books, and here is one more instance where the new addition to my process helped me. As if!

I looked up ‘as if’ and found out it’s a subordinating conjunction. I knew this but had forgotten. Now I know the rules for comma use with ‘if’, another subordinating conjunction, so all I had to do was apply the rule to sentence containing ‘as if.’

The rule, you ask?

A subordinating conjunction joins two clauses of unequal importance. If the clause containing the subordination conjunction comes before the main clause then follow the clause with a comma. If it doesn’t, don’t.

  • As if he could stop the bleeding with his eyes, he stared at the knife impaling his calf. (subordinating conjunction before main clause)
  • He stared at the knife impaling his calf as if he could stop the bleeding with his eyes. (subordinating conjunction after main clause)

Attention to detail is a must when writing a novel, but how can you do that if you don’t know the rules? This brings me back to the lifetime of studying idea.

Keep on the look out for areas in your writing where you’re not consistent and you might find areas where you don’t know the rules. Grammar: How to Learn What You Don’t Know gives another idea on learning grammar.

How do you figure out what you don’t know?

Thanks for reading . . .

How to Get a Free Manuscript Critique

The value of blogging hits home. I’ve been following Joan Edwards for a while now and here’s what happened.

Joan posted an offer of a free manuscript review just for commenting on her blog. So I commented and I won.

I sent the first 1000 pages (oops – I meant words)  of my novel Avalanche to Joan. Joan assured me complete privacy and got straight to work.

What Joan did:

  • She sent me a covering letter describing her overall strategy and what her highlighting meant .
  • She gave me high level comments before reviewing each line in detail.
  • The critique included story line, grammar and punctuation comments.

It’s exciting to receive professional feedback that will help me improve the quality of my story. She included areas for improvement and highlighted sentences she thought were good. Now I have to get to work and make this better. It’s amazing what a second pair of eyes can do for a manuscript. I wish I could have Joan review my entire manuscript. Thanks Joan. You are a star!

If I didn’t blog, I never would have had this opportunity. This comes right back to Authors Helping Authors.

Thanks for reading . . .

Scrivener and Scene Summaries

Do you keep track of your scenes? Do you summarize what’s in a scene. I used to use a spreadsheet exclusively to do this until I discovered I can use Scrivener. (I still use a spreadsheet for a more complete list that I can sort.)

In Scrivener, for each scene I note:

  • Chapter Number
  • Name of Scene
  • Point of View
  • Point of Scene
  • Tension
  • Revelation
  • Hook – ask yourself: why would a reader keep reading?
  • Character introduction and description
  • Date and Time of Day
  • Scene Description
  • Scene Dependency
  • Other – anything I want to remember. This could be a scene I want to add later. A description that needs updating. Just little reminders I still have word to do.

How does this relate to Scrivener, you ask?

I created a template in Scrivener by copying the relevant cells from and Excel spreadsheet and pasting them into a newly created template in Scrivener.

Then for each scene I insert the template underneath and to the right of the scene so I have the template linked to each scene. As I review each scene, I fill out the template. If I can’t fill out a line then I know I have work to do.

You can choose to compile the scene template with your novel or leave it out. If I’m printing a draft version, I might print the scene template so I can work on paper for a while. If I’m compiling and I only want the novel, I unclick the Include-In-Compile button.

It’s fun to discover new techniques to work with. Always, always learning . . .

Do you have information you keep track of for each scene that helps you make the scene better?

Thanks for reading . . .

I wrote a blog with my review of the Scrivener software that might help…

Writing a Series: Spreadsheet.

Last week I wrote about writing a series and keeping track of details over several novels, and I was asked about my spreadsheet.

In Keeping Track of Scenes I described the spreadsheet I use for one novel.  It amazes me how much I’ve changed and adapted the spreadsheet as I learn to improve my process. I’ve also added Scrivener to my list of tools, but I still can’t do without a spreadsheet.

In addition to a spreadsheet per novel, I now have a spreadsheet for the series.

The first column of each sheet states which novel the info is for. Then I include the following sheets:


  • names (first and last in separate columns so I can sort by each and make sure none of the names are too similar)
  • relationships
  • ages
  • clothing styles
  • emotional issues and challenges
  • anything I think might be important for the next novel

(I use Scrivener for character history)


  • places used
  • local business and who own them
  • hours of operation for ski lifts or any other business that is in more than one novel.
  • brief description of place
  • important characteristics of place


  • Dates of key events (important in later novel when referring to past)

Hope this helps.
Thanks for reading . . .