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How to Edit Like a Director


Hello! How’s your editing been going for you? I hope you’re seeing great improvement, but if you’re at a loss for how to edit or even what it consists of, take heart.

Editing is as much an art form as writing, so the more you practice, the better your results will be. Last month, we looked at three ways to think like an editor. This month, we’ll switch gears and look at how to edit like a director. Rather, we’ll transform our story into the stage and our characters into actors. You enjoy a well-done performance, don’t you? Consider what makes up a stunning stage performance . . . and we’ll incorporate a few tips for how to edit like a director.

Three tips for how to edit like a director

  1. Captivating dialogue

I understand. Dialogue is hard to craft because as in life, there’s emotion, nuance, and subtext in our characters’ dialogue. When crafting my own dialogue between my characters, I must reflect on the general goal I want my hero and/or heroine to accomplish. And whatever that goal is the dialogue should mirror that goal. For instance, if my amateur detective heroine wants to get admission into the exhibit so she can scoop up clues from last night’s painting theft, but no one will let her in because that section of the museum has been closed off, she’s got to convince the ticket master that it’s important to let her in. What might that dialogue consist of?

Amateur detective: “Sir, I’m with the police. I’d like to be let inside the exhibit hall, so I may conduct my search.”

Ticket master: “I’m very sorry. Only the private investigators are allowed in there.”

Amateur detective: “But I am a private investigator.”

Ticket master: “Hardly, miss. Where are your credentials?”

  1. Strong character actions

Outside of dialogue, strong character actions is the most important element on the stage because it connects the audience with the actors and endears them to the entire story. Likewise, giving your story characters specific movements throughout each story scene will entice our readers to want to engage with the story. Let’s take the dialogue we crafted between the amateur detective and the ticket master and incorporate some strong character actions.

Lily Nash stepped inside the museum’s expansive lobby, searching for the ticket counter. Ah, there, near a huge marble column. “Sir, I’d like to be let inside the exhibit hall, so I may conduct a search from last night’s robbery.”

“I’m very sorry, but that’s closed to the public. Only private investigators are allowed in there.” The ticket master stamped a few papers and filed them.

Gripping her handbag, she said, “But I am a private investigator.”

The ticket master cast a scorning glance down at her over his thin metal spectacles. “Hardly, miss. Where are your credentials?”

Did you notice yourself envision the scene, what the characters might look like, and how their voices might sound, based from this scene? Does it seem like Lily isn’t as prepared as she should be, and the ticket master is a stern fellow? Do you hear the desperation in Lily’s voice and the disbelief in the ticket master’s? Can you see the lobby’s high ceiling and the large, stone columns? We have not included anything but character actions and dialogue, and perhaps you are connected with the scene already.

  1. Strong transitions between scenes

Incorporating strong transitions between your story’s scenes will help your readers connect the dots and stay on track with the story as it ebbs and flows, leading to the climax and the ending. Now, we’ll take the last scene, with dialogue and character action, and create transition scenes before and after.

Looking up at the front of the art museum, Lily Nash clutched her stomach. Her first assignment alone.

She stepped inside the museum’s expansive lobby, searching for the ticket counter. Ah, there, near a huge marble column. “Sir, I’d like to be let inside the exhibit hall, so I may conduct a search from last night’s robbery.”

“I’m very sorry, but that’s closed to the public. Only private investigators are allowed in there.” The ticket master stamped a few papers and filed them.

Gripping her handbag, she said, “But I am a private investigator.”

The ticket master cast a scorning glance down at her over his thin metal spectacles. “Hardly, miss. Where are your credentials?”

“I have them, sir.” Lily dug through her handbag. Fear gripped her throat. She’d had it at the station. Without another word to the ticket master, she turned and fled the building.

Transitions don’t have to extend to several sentences or even paragraphs. Just mention enough to get your characters from one place to the next so it will be clear to your readers how your characters are moving throughout the story as it progresses, hopefully, from good to bad to worse to a climactic ending with a satisfying end.

Just as each theatrical production has its own style, theme, and tone, your story has its own style, scene exchanges, dialogue, and tone so that the message truly reaches the reader’s heart. The bottom line is to make sure your writing shows an entire story being acted out as if it were a theatrical production. Now, take a small scene from your current WIP and see how you can transform it into a scene that fully engages readers in dialogue, character actions, and transitions.

Please join in the discussion! I’d love to hear from you!

Take a few minutes and ponder. What is one self-editing tip that’s helped you recently? 

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What It Means to Be Human

“To feel is to be human.” —Peter Scazzero


Often, thoughts and pieces of words scatter and tumble like a pile of disheveled books, the words to accurately match often hard to reach, or even name. 

Once, at a book expo, someone asked me what it meant to be human, and began telling me about their work in progress, an historical WWII fiction that included zombies. I remember saying that I didn’t like zombies. And as a book editor, the idea of zombies in historical fiction was quite an injustice to the genre.

Truth is, I didn’t fully understand what they were saying at the time. Truth is, for nearly 30 years, I was the zombie, the human who wasn’t really human. Swirled up in a tornado of confusion, while the world around me seemed so put together.

But then, slowly, across starts and fits, stops and turns, I began to rise above that book rubble, those confusing feelings, those plethora of words and descriptions … that transformed into clarity, sureness, understanding. Real Love.

I began to see. To truly see and think and feel the world around me. To truly see and think and feel me around the world. To accurately see myself in a brand new light. In the Light. The Light that created the words we say, the words we think, the words we write, the words we read. The words we feel.

And I’m ever human. I’ve even ever more imperfectly mindful.

Photo cred: Unsplash
Book cred: The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

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Summer Reading

Launch Day Introduction

Need another #summer read? How about 6 books for the price of a candy bar? Better than a candy bar…


Proposals Gone Awry is a sweet contemporary romance #novella collection that is sure to raise the bar in your reading experience.


💋 an unexpected kiss

🙇 kid matchmakers

🚗 road trip adventure

🏢 publishing house romance

🍿 cozy front porch

💍 interrupted proposals


Elements from each book lend different and fresh perspectives on your average romance story.


So I’m curious. The other authors are curious. The dog and cat are curious. Goodness, the characters are curious…


Have you read the Proposals Gone Awry collection yet? One story even?


How did you like it? What struck you?


Would you head over to #Amazon and leave a review? Doesn’t have to be long. “Loved the book, and you will too!” is perfect and much appreciated!

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New Contemporary Romance Collection

The news is now in print!

A light-hearted ebook collection of novellas is coming to you June 25.

Six authors. Six contemporary romance stories of marriage proposals gone awry!

He’s ready to propose.

She’s ready to say yes.

And then it all gets mixed up…

My novella, Misadventures in Love, is about:

Young in his career, design engineer Landers Nelson is ready to propose to the love of his life. But a series of misfortunate events—dropping the ring down the drain, his girlfriend wearing the wrong shoes for hiking, and misplacing the ring again—disrupts his calculated proposal plans.

Fresh out of college, Vianne Morse has an affinity for graphic design and planned adventures. She’s excited and nervous to join Landers on a road trip to visit his side of the family in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After the car gets a flat tire, Vianne wonders if their planned adventures will actually unfold as they had so strategically planned.

Together, they must navigate the roads of adventure and personal preference to reach both of their desired couple goals—before another misfortune happens.

This collection releases June 25! I can’t wait for you to read my story and the other stories in the collection.

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Behind the Pause

When I think of a pause, I think of the silence, the peace. And yet it’s not quite silent.

There’s the whisper of the wind, your soft breath, the gentle nod of clothespins, perhaps a musical note or two kissing the air.

Or the simplicity of children playing, birds flitting, squirrels’ tails flickering, flies buzzing.

Sometimes it’s not what’s around you, but what is the pause in your mind.

This is often where silence occurs. Contemplative thoughts before that decided action. Or spoken word. A prayer before hitting Send.

Ah, when I think of a pause, I think of glory, of joy, of peace. Of rest. And it’s refreshing.

What’s your pause? How would you describe it?

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Three Steps to Editing the Beginning

[This post first appeared on Almost an Author. February 22, 2018.]

Three Steps to Editing the Beginning

With my cursor at Chapter 1 in my WWII historical fiction novel, I hit Ctrl+Enter and sighed. Beginning a book all over again wasn’t what I had in mind. I liked this chapter. I mean, really liked it, even though everyone else said it wasn’t quite right. Forever, why? Why must I abandon these pages and start fresh, like erasing a favorite drawing of a flower but one petal was lopsided.

Two contests, a writing conference, and two agents later, my intuition solidified into a clear direction of where this chapter needed to begin. None of the critics’ comments were overly negative, and most of them enjoyed the few chapters I had submitted. But my first chapter lacked … heart, GPC (goal, problem, care), and solid reasons why things were happening the very moment the story began.


How many of you have revisited this elusive beginning, struggling to create a first chapter that pops! off the page?

I’ve always struggled to write beginnings. I’m sure I’m not the only one—and there are writers who dislike middles and endings, too.

Who are these characters, what is their goal and problem, and why do you want readers to care?

In addition to Goal, Problem, and Care, here are three things I learned about editing the first chapter that helped me introduce the GPC:

  1. Introduce main characters and continuing action early in the first page.Your readers must have a reason to continue to the second and third page and eventually the last page in as few sittings as possible. Maybe your character is afraid to drive over a bridge but must because her boyfriend sent her on a scavenger hunt, or perhaps your character must capture a rattlesnake because his friend dared him. Your first page should pop! with action that includes a huge goal with a problem your main characters must overcome by the book’s end.
  2. Give your characters lively dialogue. You want your readers to laugh and relate with your characters. The old “How are you?” “I’m fine, how are you?” type of dialogue doesn’t work anymore.
  3. Don’t overwrite. Simple is always best. Make Strunk and White proud of you!

Simple writing is sometimes hard for me because I love to describe things; however, too much is not good and hurts your writing and may frustrate your readers. I love reading Anne of Green Gables, but I have a hard time staying engaged with the verbose descriptions; in Ms. Montgomery’s defense, her readers enjoyed lengthy descriptions. Today’s readers want a read they can enjoy quickly.

After taking an honest and humble look at my first chapter based on the judges’ and agents’ comments, I’m glad I started over. I spent a few days pounding out a new first chapter, and it’s stronger because I’ve given my characters a goal to look forward to, a problem that stands in their way, and my readers something to care about.

Now, excuse me while I edit this post to ensure I’ve engaged you, helped you relate, and caused you to want to continue reading it.

Let’s Discuss!

What is your WIP’s first chapter about? Can you describe it in Goal, Problem, and Care?

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How to Trust the Process


(original post published in 2018)

Writers are often told that the best piece of writing advice is to write what you know, or build your platform . . . or anything related to writing that we strive to make better in our lives. However, the best piece of writing advice I have ever been told resonated with me in such a way that changed my thinking about my writing journey.

Trust the process.

That was the advice, plain and simple.

So many times we get caught up in our writing friends’ successes, how many books they have published, seeing how perfect their worlds seem that are so unlike our own clumsy path we’re trying to follow. And that’s discouraging. I’ve been there a time or two. When I started on the path to finding an agent, I was completely overwhelmed. What if I didn’t have enough “platform” numbers? What if my writing wasn’t good enough? What if no one would like what I wrote?

But I reached out to agents anyway and pitched my story to them. Some agents liked my story but it wasn’t a good fit for them. Other agents loved my story and wanted to work with me. Oh, now, that was exciting!

Then, just like getting a large papercut, I received some disheartening news. My platform wasn’t large enough. However, not to be discouraged, the agent encouraged me to do several things, and one of those things was to get a mentor. Now, I know what you might be thinking. Asking someone to be my mentor is super intimidating. But let me put you at ease. Even Stephen King and Francine Rivers had to start at the bottom, just like you and me. And writers are always helping other writers; that’s how we grow. So, asking an author you admire, who is further down the publishing path than you, to mentor you along is the best thing you could ever do.

I did that, and my mentor told me to trust the process, because I wasn’t sure how my platform would shape up. And for the past year, I have been (trying, praying to) trusting the process as I continue doing what works for me, whether it be writing blog posts, interviewing authors, sharing research information, or encouraging up-and-coming writers, because I know that if I continue to keep my pen sharp, my heart open, and my eyes on God, that this entire process of getting published will be well worth the journey.

God’s given you a process that only works for you, and no matter what your other writer friends are doing, He will never fail you.

Let’s Chat! I’d love to hear from you in the comments~

How have you seen your own writing journey blossom this year?

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Three Similarities in Theater and Writing


(first printed Dec. 7, 2018)

“All the world’s a stage,” so they say, and a backdrop for what we experience, how we react and respond, what we do, what and how we learn.

For six years, I worked in theater, the person behind the scenes as production manager, costume assistant, seamstress, hair/makeup assistant, and as backstage rehearsal support. Long hours, late nights, and large cups of strong coffee were my best friends during those years.

And now as a writer, long hours, late nights, and lots of coffee are still my best friends. I get to work with a different type of “stage”: the backdrop of paper and the illustration of ink. And my characters are, well, the actors. And I’m the director. Or at least I try to be.

Do I miss the stage? You bet I do! A piece of my heart belongs to the world of theater, and I secretly want to join a traveling acting team. (Shhh, don’t tell anyone!) The picture above is special to me because it was a debut production. “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” and the actors who performed each role ravished students, faculty, and staff with its swashbuckling, wit, and intense moments during every night of the performance.

Delightfully enough, the acting and writing are similar. And without further ado, may I present three things wherein writing and acting similar.

  1. Creativity
    Just as the director must devise creative ways to direct the cast in how to produce just the right emotion, the right action, the right message that conveys the correct audience response, so does the writing need to create compelling characters, engaging plot, and a strong message that encourages readers.
  2. Conciseness
    Just as the script must include those actions, cues, and dialogue needs to tell a tight story with a lesson, moral, truth, or concept, so writing should convey a well-planned plot that presents only those details that further enhance the story’s message, the character’s desire/goal, and the author’s intent.
  3. Cleverness
    Just like every road has a turn, every great play has that twist, that sudden “What? No way! That can’t—” which catches the viewer off guard and sets them on the edge of their seat. Likewise, a great story will have that shock factor that grabs the reader by the throat or causes their heart to connect with the character, and thereby compelling the reader to read just one more chapter until they’ve reached the end.

My creative friends, seek to craft a work that is creative, concise, and clever, for in doing so, readers (and viewers alike) will have a wonderful reading (or viewing) experience.

Your Turn!

What other similarities would you add?

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ACFW January 2021 Book Releases

Happy New Year! A great list of new reading maerial for 2021…

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2020 Year in Review

I’m not going to blither and blather on about the woes of 2020. You get it, I get it, we all get it. What I am going to do is proclaim the greatest gifts of what seemed a dark, dark year.

I’m grateful for the gift of consistent work throughout each month, even if I worked long, grueling hours. I wouldn’t trade it for all the silence in the world.

And yet I am grateful for the long hours of silence, even if they frustrated the heck out of me because it forced me to spend time with myself. But I wouldn’t trade the silence for all the travels in the world.

And yet I am grateful for the moments I traveled this year. Mount Rainier with a more-than friend; spectacular, precious moments. Across the US skies reveling in the beauty of the world, and treasuring time and conversation with dear friends. Zooms with encouraging, determined writer friends to keep conference connection and spirits alive. And little spurts here and there whenever restaurants were actually open. I wouldn’t trade all that for the gift of simply being.

And yet (catching a theme yet?) each of these 2020 gifts helped me see the greatest gift of all. Me. Me and who I really am, who I really am in Christ.

If 2020 taught me anything, it’s that I need to give myself grace to simply be. I need to give myself grace to be free to lean, free to feel, free to roam, free to confess what I’ve been desperately afraid of for far too long. I am me. And I can simply. Just. Be.
This newness still feels awkward. It still feels raw. It still feels strange. I know I’m gonna mess up at times and revert back to the old broken me I fought and cried so hard to mend through and with my Father-God friend. Ah, and I’m learning that this is the depths of grace.


As I become better friends with a wholer honest me, I can taste the freedom. It’s there. It’s here. It’s glorious. It’s sacred. It’s peaceful. It’s love. And 2021 is looking mighty fine, and I am ever so grateful.

What is your 2020 takeaway? Let me know in the comments!