Why Not? Day 7 Get Your Writing Critiqued.


Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

This is the 7th post in the Why Not Series.

“Why Not? Day 7 Get Your Writing Critiqued. Go Ahead.” by Joan Y. Edwards

  1. You’ve written sentences.
  2. You’ve written paragraphs.
  3. You’ve written an article, poem, short story, manuscript, screenplay.
  4. You’ve written a title.
  5. You’ve written a pitch.
  6. You’ve revised your writing at least three times.

Now you are ready to get someone else to read your work. Now you’re ready for a critique.

Things to remember about a critique.

  1. One person’s opinion doesn’t mean it is the truth. It does not mean what they say is a fact. It is not their opinion about you personally. It is about your writing. Keep the two things separate in your mind.
  2. Don’t change anything you don’t agree with 100 per cent. Remember it’s your story. You are the author.
  3. Let your manuscript and the critique rest in a drawer for at least a week maybe more before you do anything with it. Give time for the ideas to take root in your brain and jog around in your imagination.

Find Compatible Critique Partners or Critique Groups

Writing organizations in your town or state may have critique groups for you to join. I know the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators helps members find critique groups. Join a Facebook group or Yahoo group for writers. Ask in your church, school, or workplace. Look for writers who write in the same genre as you. It’s easier to focus on getting and giving the best advice and feedback when all members in a critique group write in the same genre. I have been in critique groups where members were happy and talented and did multiple genres well.

Hire a professional editor

Choose someone who has critiqued successful books in your genre.

Ask for references, so you can interview the authors who used this particular editor.

Ask for titles of books he edited.

Ask about his fees and what each fee covers.

Ask the authors of your favorite books in your genre who they used to edit their books. Sometimes it is listed inside the book.

In The Editor’s Eye Stacy Ennis suggests using the list from the  Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA).


How to Benefit the Most from Your Critique Group

It’s great to have a critique group, either in person or on-line. Here are ways to benefit the most from your critique group:

Be thankful for ways a critique group can help you

  1. Another person can spot those spelling, punctuation, or grammar that you’ve read over 10 times and didn’t notice.
  2. If you want to know if a particular scene in your book is working, the members in your critique group can give you their opinions. They can offer choices for solutions to problems you noticed yourself.
  3. The people in a critique group can teach you, inspire you, encourage you, and tell you the best written passages (Blue Ribbon parts) of your manuscript, query letter, cover letter, proposal, synopsis, summary.

Before you hand your manuscript and pitch to someone for critique: Remember these things

  1. Give others the right to like or dislike your work. Accept that it’s okay if they don’t like it and okay if they do like it. Ask for suggestions they believe would make it better. That doesn’t mean you have to use it. It may lead you to an idea you like.
  2. Be open to change. Change creates a path to a stronger and better manuscript. Decide which parts of your manuscript are non-negotiable and which parts are negotiable.
  3. Share only your best writing. Check your spelling and grammar with your writing software or other sources before you get your work critiqued by others.

Guide for a Good Manuscript Critique

How can you give a good manuscript critique? When you critique a manuscript, you want to do a good job. You want the writer to understand clearly what you think. You want to give them both ways to correct and ways to enhance the manuscript. You want to show the author where the writing is great as well as where it needs improvement.

When you critique a manuscript, make your notes stand out. Be creative. 

  • Highlight in blue or put in blue text at least three of the best written passages – Blue Ribbon passages. In this particular manuscript, these parts win First Prize – the Blue Ribbon like they used to give at the County Fairs.
  • Highlight in yellow or put in red text, and/or cross out words you believe should be deleted like this.
  • Use a different color font for your remarks from the one the writer used.
  • Use all caps for your input. WHAT A STRONG BEGINNING!
  • Devise your own clever way to note your feedback on the manuscript.

Ideas for a Good Critique

When you ask another person to critique your work, you can highlight questions for special emphasis.
If you’re the author, ask yourself the questions below about one of your own manuscripts.

When critiquing an author’s work, keep the following suggestions in mind as you read it.  It will help you focus on the story’s strengths, as well as give the author ideas for enrichment. Feel free to add ideas of your own.

25 Suggestions for a Helpful Critique

  1. Write in your questions as you read the manuscript.
  2. Write in your ideas you’d like for the author to consider.
  3. Does the title catch your interest?
  4. Does the pitch (logline, selling summary, blurb) give the essence of the story?
  5. Which parts, if any, confused you?
  6. Note punctuation and grammar errors.
  7. What are the three main errors in punctuation and grammar for the author to correct?
  8. Point out pet words that the author uses over and over? A thesaurus might have other words to use in place of them.
  9. Point out where the writer needs to show, not tell. 
  10. What do you want to know that the writer doesn’t tell you in the story?
  11. Does the story make sense? If not, note in the manuscript which parts that don’t make sense.
  12. Do you know what the protagonist wants? What is he willing to do to get it? What keeps him from getting what he wants? 
  13. What mistakes does the protagonist make?
  14. What are the protagonist’s flaws? (He’s got to have flaws.)
  15. What is the lowest point in the story? The part where it looks like there is absolutely no way the protagonist is going to get what he wants.
  16. Does the protagonist change? How? It makes the story work when the main character has to change to get what he wants.
  17. Does the protagonist face his conflict or run away?
  18. Does the protagonist save himself by human means or is he saved by unbelievable circumstances that seems like magic? The main character seems more human when he saves himself.
  19. What does the main character learn about life from his experiences in this story? (Theme)
  20. Do you know what each character wants?
  21. Does each character have a distinct voice of his own?
  22. Is the dialogue believable? Is it tagged appropriately?
  23. Can you tell when a different character is talking?
  24. What are three of the best written (Blue Ribbon) passages?
  25. Retell my story in three sentences: beginning, middle, and end. (James N. Frey’s suggestion from How to Write a Damn Good Novel.) Through listening you’ll discover the strong parts and weak parts. If you have trouble, tell the author which parts aren’t clear.


*****For a fun read and a chance to win a free Giveaway, see my “Interview with Becoming Hero’s Author, Jen Finelli:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/interview-with-becoming-heros-author-jen-finelli/


Brian Klems. Writers Digest. “Ten Things Your Freelance Editor Might Not Tell You But Should:” http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/10-things-your-freelance-editor-might-not-tell-you-but-should

Ellen Dodson. “Guide for Critique Groups & Individual Critiques:” http://www.scbwior.com/links/CritGroup.html

Jennifer Evans. “Guidelines for Group Critiques of Fiction:”

Joanna Penn. “How to Find the Right Editor:” http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/07/14/how-to-find-the-right-editor/

Joan Y. Edwards. “James N. Frey Books to Improve Your Writing:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/james-n-frey-books-to-improve-your-writing/

Joan Y. Edwards. “Guide for a Good Manuscript Critique:”

Joan Y. Edwards. “A Critique Is a Gift – It Contains Choices and Possibilities:”

Marg Gilks. “Fundamentals of Fiction, Part III: Critique Groups and Writers’ Groups:”

Stacy Ennis. “Five Ways to Find the Right Freelance Book Editor:” https://janefriedman.com/find-freelance-book-editor/

Suzanne. Zanzjan.net. “How to Give a Critique (Beginners):”http://www.zanzjan.net/writing/give-critique.html

Suzanne. Zanzjan.net. “How to Take a Critique (Beginners):” http://www.zanzjan.net/writing/take-critique.html

I wish you great success in your writing career. Thanks for reading this blog post. You honor me with your presence. Please leave a comment, resource, or question. I’d love to hear from you.


Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 383 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators



Interview with Becoming Hero’s Author, Jen Finelli

Becoming Hero by Jen Fenelli

Becoming Hero by Jen Fenelli

“Interview with Becoming Hero’s Author, Jen Finelli” (Giveaway details below)

Today, I am delighted to interview Jen Finelli, author of soon to be released Becoming Hero

Hi, Jen. So good to have you as our honored guest today. I know our readers are going to enjoy learning about you. You are clever and fun. I’ve rolled out the red carpet for you.

Thank you, Joan for having me here. Let’s get going.

  1. Where were you born?
    Washington, DC!
  1. Where was your favorite place to live as a child? Why?
    Germany was wonderful, but my heart’s in Paraguay. You know how some folks have that Grandma’s house out in the country or something they went to over the summer? My “summer” place was Paraguay…the verdant home to thousands of undiscovered bird species, the largest waterfall in the world, and people who will offer you tea and next thing you know is that you’re part of their family. That’s where I’m going to live when I grow up: I’m spending the next ten years saving up money to build a clinic in the jungle there.
  1. Did you have a favorite place to read a book as a child? Where and why?
    What’s comfier than a bed, am I right?
  1. Where is your favorite place to read now? Why?
    Ha, I don’t grow up. That’s why on Twitter they call me Petr3Pan! I’m still in the same place.
  1. How do you keep yourself physically fit?
    I cry a lot, and that doesn’t seem to be working. It’s great, I stay the same size all the time! I’m big enough for my husband to write words on and hide them in the folds. In all seriousness, there are some awesome apps people should check out if they want to get fit. I’m trying to do this 100 push-ups app, and learn Bellydancing. Zombies Run looks awesome. I used to be a black belt who ran three miles every morning, taught martial arts classes, AND swam competitively, so I do like exercise. It just doesn’t like me.
  1. If you go to an amusement park, which ride do you go to first? Which ride do you ignore at all costs?
    Not a huge fan of spinning things. Love the Apollo’s Chariot at Bush Gardens, Williamsburg, Va. I want to fly, so anything that makes me feel like I’m flying is a go.
  2. What is your favorite genre? Why?
    Sci-Fi! Because it’s the best one! You can say anything about the future, the past, the now, and you can explore the edges of human innovation and maybe even influence some real scientists. Nothing’s better than that!
  1. What’s your favorite book that you’ve ever read? Why?
    Either Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie or The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. The Space Trilogy is a great example of anthropological philosophy, and he spends a lot of time thinking about what cultures might be like on other planets in a very mystical, beautiful way. Much more lit than his Narnia trilogy.
  1. Where is your favorite place to visit? Why?
    Wherever my husband is.
  1. When did you decide to become a writer?
    Six year old me: grubby, shower-less little kid who exclusively spoke in words she’d read in the dictionary. Hated writing, but I wrote an essay about a salmon that included the sentence “she swam far far far far far far far far far far far far” and it won an award, so my fate was sealed. I might still hate writing, who knows.

But the fact is I’m good at written storytelling, and as my writing career began to build (despite my attempts to do other things like medicine) I realized I was born for this. I quit a pharmacy tech position and began writing full-time. I—no joke—heard God telling me it’s my calling to write.

*Ding ding ding crazy!* I know you’re all thinking it, so it’s okay, I’ll go ahead and say it. But you know, I’m a multiple published Codex member now with over a hundred pieces over my belt, so I don’t think I’m one of these people who says God told them to write and then sends you the scary manifesto they wrote in blood on toilet paper.

I’m more like one of those people who says God told them to write and sends you a frikkin’ awesome zombie story in a popular anthology. (I’m saving my bloody toilet paper manifesto for when Vermin Supreme becomes president = P)

  1. Who or what has inspired you the most to write?
    I have no idea! When I was nine I loved something by Lynne Reid Banks so much I decided to write my own magical world about an Easter Egg. I always wanted to be the next C.S. Lewis. If I can learn to be the best me, that would be a good start.
  1. What has been the most exhilarating moment as a writer?
    When I stopped thinking I knew how to write, and started taking advice. That’s when my career took off. I threw away a 500,000 word novel, people.
  1. What are your top ten tips for writers to help them in writing a best seller?
  • Don’t be lazy.
  • Be patient.
  • Realize your work isn’t perfect, that’s not a personal flaw, and you can take steps to get better. You don’t have to kill all your Darlings, but you do have to kill your ego.

These three things will help you deal with rejection and improve your writing more than anything else will. You also need to avoid the use of “was,” use strong words instead of adverbs, stop being pretentious and writerly (stop saying utilize instead of use), and read both Grammar Girl and Strunk and White. (I need to do those things, too) Ten tips is more than I’m qualified to give in one post, but I do have a place on my site where I drop writing tips I’ve learned from others. I believe you’ll think it’s worth checking out.

  1. How did you find the illustrator for your comic book?
    That’s a bit of a secret, since we have a big reveal coming up, but suffice it to say: online! People who are looking for artists should follow them on Twitter, go to ComicCons, hang out on DeviantArt, and generally try to think like artists.

Paying money helps, which is why I ran this awesome campaign to pay my artist AND give my fans cool inexpensive pre-orders! At the $1 level peeps get a $17 audiobook!

  1. What are three things that you do to entice readers to read to the very last page of your book?
    Pray. Eat. Love. Or something like that. No, for real! Prayer helps get my mind focused, I need to eat or I can’t write, and if you don’t love your readers they can feel it. That’s something Dale Carnegie said once.

On a more practical note, keep secrets (but don’t lie to your readers, they hate that)—every character should have one secret trait you never tell your readers, and one secret that affects the book in some way. Cock Chekhov’s gun: let readers see the rifle lying in the room before it becomes important. Just kind of mention it, and then later when it’s important they’re like OH SNAP I REMEMBER THAT THERE WAS A GUN IN THE ROOM!

And finally, have an outline that flows.

  1. As I understand it, when you were writing a cartoon, you had one of your characters rebel against the situations you put him in? How do you feel about this?
    Well it’s not actually me that Skye’s shooting—he’s inside a comic book INSIDE the novel, so his author lives in the novel, and I’m his author’s author. Like his grand-author. Thankfully, he doesn’t know I exist.

In all seriousness, writing something this meta can mess with your head a little bit. I’m writing about tropes I think comic authors should stop using, and about how ridiculous it gets when major franchises get dragged on and on and on…and I’m employing the same tropes I’m talking about because otherwise it’s tell not show. So like…if Skye were real somewhere…am I a huge jerk, or am I doing this because I’m trying to make a hero out of him? Would he hate me, or thank me for bringing him to become the person he’s meant to be?

I try to write all my characters, even the bad guys, as if I love them very much. I want to see them shine, so each one needs to have his moment, and each one needs a deep reason for why he does what he does. But who knows…Skye might still find me worthy of a bullet in the brain.

  1. This question is for Skye, the main character in your new book, Becoming Hero.
    Hello, Skye from Becoming Hero. Why are you so upset?
Becoming Hero by Jen Fenelli

Becoming Hero by Jen Finelli

Skye speaking:

“To quote Batman: how many girlfriends died in your hands?

You know what’s really sad about it? They’re fading in my head, ’til they’re almost not people anymore—just plot points, meant to drive me on, and I can feel that drive, that spiked wheel turning in my rib cage and churning all the meat in there like a blender, I feel how it’s supposed to warp me and turn me in to a dark and cool mysterious brooding guy with a past, and I don’t want it, I don’t, that’s not who I am.

Before you know it, well, here I am. Dark and brooding guy with a past. I even use guns now. I’ve got nothing but Natasha’s name on my lips and her ring around my neck, because her personality, her well-rounded human self disappeared every time she stepped into a panel and became “the girlfriend.” Because I’m the main character, everyone exists around me. Which means everyone around me has to suffer, but I can never, never die.

This is what the SAT calls egomania. This is what the author in the comic is doing to me.

You know it’s the worst thing ever when you know what’s happening to you, and you can’t stop it?

If there were one person in your life who was responsible for all the suffering of everyone you loved—your parents, your best friend, that special person who makes you blush like a dummy—would you take it lying down?

Or would you take them out?”

For more information about me, Skye from Jen Finelli’s new book, Becoming Hero, check out the website: http://becominghero.ninja

Thanks for taking the time to answer my question, Skye.



Jen Fenelli, Author of Becoming Hero

Jen Fenelli, Author of Becoming Hero

Jen Finelli’s Short Bio

If you’re looking for sentient cockroaches, angry superheroes, zombies or fairies, offensive gods, and anything else just plain different, Jen Finelli probably writes what you want. She’s a world-traveling sci-fi writer with a knack for making people feel things. (Rage, mostly, but that’s a feeling, right?) So far she’s gotten locked in a German nunnery, fired by a secret news organization, lost in an underground tunnel network, and wind-whipped in a tropical monsoon while riding a motorcycle, so she thinks she’s doing something right. Her comic book character wants to kill his author in Becoming Hero, coming in 2017.

Jen invites you to go here to get a $17 audiobook for $1, watch a silly movie (cool video with Jen telling about her book), and get an early Valentine’s Day gift for you loved one!

Jen’s websites:

byjenfinelli.com (I live here)

petrepan.blogspot.com (Free nightmares and ponies here)

http://becominghero.ninja (I make comics here)

mysweetaffair.com (I wrote a movie!)

Connect with Jen Finelli on Social Media: 

Facebook: http://facebook.com/becomingherocomic
Twitter: twitter.com/petr3pan
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118054993565539554359
Pinterest: pinterest.com/petr3pan
Instagram: instagram.com/becominghero
Stumbleupon: stumbleupon.com/petrepan (please like/stumble my things!)

Thank you, Jen for a fun interview. I wish you the best of luck with your launch of Becoming Hero.

Pre-order now!

Thank you for reading my blog. I am very blessed to see you here.

Winner of the Giveaway Contest. I appreciate the three people who were kind enough to leave a comment on this blog post between January 19th and midnight, January 28, 2017.

  1. Linda Andersen
  2. Kathleen Burkinshaw
  3. Cat Michaels

I had random.org choose the winner. The lucky winner of Jen Finelli’s short story, Minnie: The Curse of Sentience is Linda Andersen. Congratulations, Linda. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll send it to you by email.

To leave a comment please click below and scroll down to the bottom:


Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 373 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators


Why Not? Day 6 Revise Your Story. Go Ahead.


Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

This is Day 6 of the Why Not? series.

“Why Not? Day 6 Revise Your Story. Go Ahead” by Joan Y. Edwards

  1. You’ve written an article/thesis/story/poem.
  2. You’ve chosen the shortest snappy captivating title.
  3. You’ve developed a catchy pitch/hook/story concept

Let your work rest in a drawer or in your computer for three days if it’s an essay for high school or college, a newspaper article, or short story to one-six months for a novel or screenplay. Letting it rest will give you a fresh look when you get back to it. When your writing’s rest period is up, you’re ready to revise it.

I recommend that that you revise it three times yourself before you take it to a critique group. Sometimes when I’ve gone to a critique group too early, I heard their voices and not my own. Let your gut feelings about it be your guide.

There are many ideas to consider in the revision process. I’ve broken it down into proofreading and revision. To simplify things, I list the ones that are most important in your first revision.

Print out your manuscript with one inch margins and double spaced.

I consider proofreading part of the Revision process.


Read the manuscript aloud. Derick Wilder, a writing peer and member of SCBWI, says if you read it backwards, you may see mistakes and hear mistakes you might miss.

  1. Correct words that are spelled wrong.
  2. Correct punctuation.
  3. Correct grammar usage.
  4. Vary sentence structure so you don’t put your reader to sleep.
  5. Change passive voice sentences to active voice.

Read, Study, and Revise

  1. Is your title still the best possible one for your story.
  2. Does your pitch show the emotional concept of your story in two-three sentences?
  3. Does the manuscript contain descriptions that would be better as dialogue? For instance, do you tell how Jane and Dave are always at each other’s throats when it would be more interesting to read dialogue using words that make you feel like they’ve slit each other’s throats.
  4. Is there backstory that could be deleted from the beginning and placed at the exact time when the reader needs to know that information to understand the story?
  5. Does your story have a beginning with a problem, a middle in which the problem gets so bad that the protagonist has to make a change or all is lost, and a satisfying ending? Does your protagonist solve the problem on his/her own power?
  6. Do your characters actions and reactions invoke emotional reactions to your readers? Katherine Ochee suggests that you write what you feel rather than what you know. Are your characters believable in the world you created for them?
  7. Chuck Sabunchino suggests making a chart for a picture book with the following headings: character, action, dialogue, feeling, and visual. You could do that for a short story or novel, too.

Resources about Editing/Revising

  1. Chuck Sambuchino. Writer’s Digest. “6 Tips for Revising Picture Books:” http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/6-tips-for-revising-picture-books
  2. Dave Hood. “How Should You Revise a Short Story:” https://davehood59.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/how-should-you-revise-a-short-story/
  3. Holly Lisle. “How to Revise a Novel:”https://hollylisle.com/how-to-revise-a-novel/
  4. Joan Y. Edwards. “Characters Must Show Growth and Change: Interview with Sarah Maury Swan:”  https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/characters-must-show-growth-and-change-interview-with-sarah-maury-swan-au
  5. Joan Y. Edwards. “Get a New Perspective When You Revise Your Manuscript:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/get-a-new-perspective-when-you-revise-your-manuscript/
  6. Joan Y. Edwards. “Get Rid of Passive Voice.” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/get-rid-of-passive-voice/
  7. Joan Y. Edwards. “Goodness! How Could I Have Submitted That Manuscript?” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/goodness-how-could-i-have-submitted-that-manuscript/
  8. Joan Y. Edwards. “Look for Four Writing Errors When You Revise:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/look-for-four-writing-errors-when-you-revise/
  9. Joan Y. Edwards. “Sounds of Words Bring Characters to Life:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/sounds-of-words-bring-characters-to-life/
  10. Joan Y. Edwards. “Stop Boredom: Vary the Beginnings of Your Sentences:”
  11. Joan Y. Edwards. “Vary Your Sentences: Begin with a Different Part of Speech:”https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/vary-your-sentences-begin-with-a-different-part-of-speech/
  12. Katherine Ochee. “Eight Awesome Steps to Revising Your Novel:” https://writersedit.com/eight-steps-revising-novel/
  13. Reedsy. “How to Revise a Novel: Step by Step:” https://blog.reedsy.com/how-to-revise-a-novel-step-by-step-guide
  14. Roane State.Edu. OWL.”Revision Checklist for Essays:” https://www.roanestate.edu/owl/essayrev.html
  15. Stephen Koch. Writer’s Workshop: https://www.amazon.com/Modern-Library-Writers-Workshop-Paperbacks/dp/0375755586
  16. Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. “Revising Drafts (of College Papers):”http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/revising-drafts/

Other blog posts in the Why Not? series:

  1. “Why Not? Day 1 Write. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3t0
  2. “Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3u1
  3. “Why Not? Day 3 Write a Paragraph. Go Ahead:”
  4. “Why Not? Day 4 Write a Snappy Title. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3wG
  5. “Why Not? Day 5 Write a Pitch. Go Ahead:”

Thanks for reading my blog. I’d love to hear from you. Please click on comment below and scroll down to the bottom of the page.


Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 383 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators


Why Not? Day 5 Write a Pitch. Go Ahead.

Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

Why Not image Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

Why Not? Day 5 Write a Pitch. Go Ahead.

A pitch can be called an elevator pitch or a logline (in the case of a screenplay. A pitch doesn’t tell the ending of the story. A pitch for an article, thesis, picture book or novel is 25 words or two sentences telling enough about a story to capture the interest of a possible reader, publisher, agent, or editor. A pitch is used in person, online, in chats, interviews, query letters, cover letters, proposals, and on the covers of books. It’s your door to getting another person interested in what you’ve written.

A blurb on the back of a book is a longer pitch – perhaps 100 words,  ten sentences, depending on the publisher or author’s decision. You can add to it, but the essential information that pulls us in should be one or two sentences.

Write your pitch before you write your story. What? You say you’ve already written your story. That’s okay. Write your pitch now. Write it before your next revision. Doing this will help you make sure your story is what your pitch says it is. Your pitch is your promise to your readers of your story’s emotional impact.

It’s a great idea to practice your pitch. Have it ready when someone asks you, “What are you writing now?”

Start you stopwatch. You’ve got 30-60 seconds to get the person’s attention with the pitch for your book. If you stammer too long, the person will start a new topic of conversation or if leave the elevator and your chance goes down the drain.

Be ready. Write your pitch on a 3×5 inch index card. If it won’t fit on the 3×5 inch index card, it’s too long. Keep it with you in your wallet. Practice saying it in front of a mirror.

Christina Mandelski with Upstart Crow Literary says “I like to always start with who the story is about, what challenges the protagonist faces, and some standout detail that makes it feel unique.”

Amy Burkhart, agent, says the pitch has to tell, “Who, What, When, Where, and Why should I care?”

Kathleen Antrim, award-winning author, says a pitch must tell, “What if… and so what?”

­What if?
  1.  Who is the story about – girl, boy, age or grade, man or woman, occupation if it’s important to the plot, and the main character’s major flaw. (You don’t have to tell the names of characters)
  2. Where is she? Historical Fiction necessary. Not always essential.
  3. When does the story take place? Historical Fiction necessary. Not always essential.
  4. What is her problem? Who or what stands in her way?
  5. So what? Why is crisis important to her? Why does she need to win this challenge? What change has to happen for her to win? Does this pull at your heart strings? Does it invoke a deep emotion for the protagonist’s situation?

Here are some of the words about four New York Best Sellers. I shortened them to the nitty gritty (major essence) from the information given on Amazon.com. I don’t have the exact pitches that these authors sent to their agents or publishers.

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain.
Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager. What if that’s not true?
The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti
What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she—whoever she is—vanishes completely.

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Charlotte Davis is in pieces.  You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you. But she’s learned how to forget.

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.

Good luck in writing a pitch that hooks your readers, agents, and editors!



smaller Cover Joan's Elder Care Guide by Aidana WillowRaven

Copyright 2016 Aidana Willow-Raven and 4RV Publishing

As I mentioned when I posted this Pitch blog, the voting for the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2016 was over on January 14, 2017. Thank you to all of you who voted for Joan’s Elder Care Guide and other books in the contest. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

Oh my goodness. Joan’s Elder Care Guide came in 3rd Place! Third Place in Best Nonfiction Book! How cool is that! Here’s a link to see the results and to read the sweet comments that touched my heart! 


Thanks for believing in me!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please click on comment and scroll down and tell me your favorite pitch!


Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 379 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators

Resources -Other blog posts in the Why Not series:

  1. “Why Not? Day 1 Write. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3t0
  2. “Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3u1
  3. “Why Not? Day 3 Write a Paragraph. Go Ahead:”http://wp.me/pFnvK-3uf
  4. “Why Not? Day 4 Write a Snappy Title. Go Ahead:” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3wG

Here are more articles about pitches:

Why Not? Day 4 Write a Snappy Title. Go Ahead.


Why Not image Copyright 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

“Why Not? Day 4 Write a Snappy Title. Go Ahead.” by Joan Y. Edwards

This is Day 4 of the Why Not series. I hope you’re enjoying it and learning a little, too.

Let’s say, you’ve written all the paragraphs you plan to write about the subject at hand. You may have written a draft title. You want to check out your title for three things:

  1. Is it meaningful in view of the words you’ve written?
  2. Does it capture the mood, mystery, and attention of the readers?
  3. Can it be said in fewer words and still capture the attention of your readers so that they want to read your words to discover what you have to say, what your story is, who your characters are, and how things go in the world you describe.

How many words does a good title have? Let’s check it out.

52 Oscar-Winning Movies from 2012-2015

In the Oscar Winning Movies from 2012-2015, there were:

24 one-word winners: Room, Amy, Spectre, Stutterer, Birdman, Whiplash, Boyhood, Intersteller, Ida, Selma, Citizenfour, Feast, Gravity, Frozen, Her, Helium, Argo, Lincoln, Skyfall, Amour, Paperman, Brave, Inocente, Curfew

11 two-word winners: The Revenant, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Bear Story, American Sniper, Still Alice, Blue Jasmine, Mr. Hublot, Les Miserables, Diango Unchained, Anna Karenina

14 three word winners: Bridge of Spies, The Big Short, The Danish Girl, The Hateful Eight, Son of Saul, The Imitation Game, Big Hero 6, The Phone Call, Dallas Burgers Club, The Great Gatsby, The Great Beauty, Life of Pi, Zero Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, 

4 four-word winners: The Great Budapest Hotel, 12 Years a Slave, 20 Feet from Stardom, Searching for Sugar Man

1 five-word winner: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

2 nine-word winners: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Top 52 Fiction New York Best Sellers in 2015

I placed a link to the 2015 New York Times Best Sellers in the resources. Curiosity got me. I tested the titles to find out if this rule holds true for fiction novel titles, too. I chose the top 52 titles since there were 52 Oscar-winning movies.

5 one-word titlesRevival, Fangirl, Fallen, Burned, Torment

23 two-word titlesThe Nightingale, Gone Girl, Orphan Train, The Goldfinch, Sarah’s Key, Gray Mountain, Sycamore Row, Memory Man, The Escape, Leaving Time, The Selection, Paper Towns, Station Eleven, Golden Son, Carry On, Finders Keepers, First Frost, Hush Hush, Dead Heat, Saint Odd, World After, Defending Jacob, Red Queen, 

12 three-word titlesMe Before You, Big Little Lies, The Husband’s Secret, The Rosie Effect, What Alice Forgot, Before I Go, Edge of Eternity, The Rosie Project, The Boston Girl, The Burning Room, The Bone Clocks, Obsession in Death

5 four-word titlesThe Invention of Wings, All the Single Ladies, In the Unlikely Event, Our Souls at Night, Mightier Than the Sword

3 five-word titles The Girl on the Train, The Fault in Our Stars, A Spool of Blue Thread

4 six-word titlesAll the Light We Cannot See, Be Careful What You Wish for, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I believe there is a power in three and the power of one. Think of the fairy tales. They used the power of three: The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Three seems finished in our minds. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

It could also be power in the number of syllables: Many of the two word novel titles had three syllables.

The power of one:

  1. Jake had only one fault.
  2. She was the only person left.
  3. I had only one chance to live.

So when you’re choosing a title, choose the fewest words with enough oomph to stand the test of the reader’s mind. Will it hook him? Will it catch her interest?

I did a random test and found that many magazine articles and blog posts have more words than the titles of movies or books.

Good luck with your writing. You can do it. I know you can. Have fun with deciding a title for your writing. Read your choices aloud. That might help you make your decision.

The Why Not Series

  1. “Why Not? Day 1 Write. Go Ahead.” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3t0
  2. “Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go Ahead.” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3u1
  3. “Why Not? Day 3 Write a Paragraph. Go Ahead.” http://wp.me/pFnvK-3uf


  1. Goodreads. “New York Times Fiction Best Sellers 2015:” https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/83612.NY_Times_Fiction_Best_Sellers_2015
  2. Joan Y. Edwards. “4 Books to Give You Aha Moments in Writing:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/4-books-to-give-you-aha-moments-in-writing/
  3. Joan Y. Edwards. “7 Ways to Add Surprise to Create a Best Seller That Readers Crave:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/7-ways-to-add-surprise-to-create-a-best-seller-that-readers-crave/
  4. Joan Y. Edwards. “17 Reasons to Write – Why Do You Write?:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/17-reasons-to-write-why-do-you-write/
  5. Joan Y. Edwards. “28 Craft Books to Help You Get a Grip on Writing:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/28-craft-books-to-help-you-get-a-grip-on-writing/
  6. Joan Y. Edwards. “33 Books to Harness the Power within You:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/33-books-to-harness-the-power-within-you/
  7. Joan Y. Edwards. “Add the Power of Three to Your Writing:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/add-the-power-of-three-to-your-writing/
  8. Joan Y. Edwards. “Fascinating Writing Prompts Get Stories Rolling:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/fascinating-writing-prompts-get-stories-rolling/
  9. Joan Y. Edwards. “Grab Your Reader’s Attention – Use Irony:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/grab-your-readers-attention-use-irony/
  10. Joan Y. Edwards. “Think and Say Good Words about Yourself:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/think-and-say-good-words-about-yourself/
  11. Wikipedia. “List of Academy Award-Winning Films:” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Academy_Award-winning_films

Thank you for reading my blog. Please leave a comment or question! Click on comment and scroll down to the bottom of the page.


Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 373 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators

Why Not? Day 3 Write a Paragraph. Go Ahead.

Why Not image Copyright 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

Why Not image Copyright 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

“Why Not? Day 3 Write a Paragraph. Go Ahead,” by Joan Y. Edwards

This is Day 3 of the Why Not? series.

Wow! See you’ve got a bunch of sentences written now. You need to place sentences in logical order in a paragraph. In some cases, a paragraph may be only one sentence. Group your sentences about one topic together in one paragraph. The UNC Writing Center calls the topic the “controlling” idea. Paragraphs may be indented or have a line between them.

When you’re typing or using a computer to write your work, use double-spacing to leave room for you to review it and make notes for changes. Using one inch margins and double-spacing will put it in the right format for sharing with a critique group or critique partner. This is also the correct format to submit work to a publisher or agent.

Put one space between sentences. One space after a period, exclamation point, or question mark. They changed the rules from two spaces to one space as far back as 1989 and in 2010 The Chicago Manual of Style of the University of Chicago Press stated that one space be used between sentences. 

All of what you put in a paragraph depends upon the point you want to make with your words. You have one sentence that explains the main idea you’re trying to get across to the reader. The other sentences in the paragraph are all related to and may lead up to proving the main idea or topic sentence.

There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

I think J.R.R. Tolkien’s words would make a great topic sentence for a paragraph. So would all the other quotes from novels listed by Piotr Kowalczyk. Here’s a paragraph I wrote with Tokien’s sentence first (The topic sentence or main sentence) and a sentence rewording that sentence at the end.

There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for. Children share their lunches. People help the homeless. Men and women adopt children. Teachers teach because they care, not because of the money.Many companies give you much more value than the money you pay them. Communities band together when there is a crisis and help each other. I believe our world is good and is definitely worth saving.

Fill your paragraphs with sentences to: explain, defend, persuade, elaborate, describe, show, tell, list ideas on the topic under discussion. Writing is formal or informal:

  1. Note
  2. List
  3. Letter
  4. Article
  5. Essay
  6. Poem
  7. Thesis
  8. Science Project
  9. Dissertation
  10. Review
  11. Advertisement
  12. Critique
  13. Conversation
  14. Explanation
  15. Proof

You can publish writing in: blogs, bulletins, newsletters, magazines, chapbooks, books, skits, plays, and screenplays.

Paragraphs may have dialogue.

If a paragraph has dialogue. The main thing I’ve learned is that you use the word “said” and not uttered, moaned, sobbed, etc. When you use fancy, off the wall words for said, it takes the reader out of the story. You don’t want to take the reader out of the story.

Jane said, “Oh dear. Sally fell in the mud puddle.”
“Oh dear. Sally fell in the mud puddle,” said Jane.
“Oh dear,” said Jane. “Sally fell in the mud puddle.”

Writer’s Digest – Famous Writing Quotes: Inspirational Author Quotes on Writing

If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.
David Brin, Best-Selling Author

You’ve got all these things in your life – family, friends, and good productive work (even if it’s not for pay) so go ahead and write. You’ve got what it takes. I believe in you. God believes in you. Believe in you. Go ahead write.

Thanks for reading my blog. I’d love to hear from you. Click on comment below and scroll down to the bottom of the page.


Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 375 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators

Why Not Series

  1. Why Not? Day 1 Write. Go ahead.
  2. Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go ahead.


  1. April Klazema. “Paragraph Writing Examples: How to be a Great Writer:”
  2. IELTSBuddy. “Good Paragraph Writing:” http://www.ieltsbuddy.com/paragraph-writing.html
  3. Joan Y. Edwards. “Accept Yourself As You Are:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/accept-yourself-as-you-are/
  4. Joan Y. Edwards. “Put One Space between Sentences:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/put-one-space-between-sentences/
  5. Joan Y. Edwards. “Put Quotation Marks after Periods, Commas, and Question Marks in America:” https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/put-quotation-marks-after-periods-commas-and-question-marks-in-america/
  6. Marisol Dahl. The Write Life.com. The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2016: https://thewritelife.com/100-best-websites-writers-2016/
  7. Owl.English.Purdue.Edu. “On Paragraphs:” https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/606/01/
  8. Piotr Kowalczyk | Ebook Friendly. “50 Most Inspirational Quotes from Books:”
  9. Richard Lederer. “Let’s Face It – English Is a Crazy Language” by Richard Lederer
  10. Writers and Artists.uk. “Websites for Writers:” https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/writers/advice/108/a-writers-toolkit/essential-information/websites-for-writers
  11. Writer’s Digest. “Famous Writing Quotes: Inspirational Author Quotes on Writing:”
  12. Writing Center.UNC.Edu. “Paragraphs:” http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/paragraphs/

Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go ahead.


DAY 2 Image Copyright 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

“Why Not? Day 2 Write a Sentence. Go ahead.” by Joan Y. Edwards

When you’re jotting down your thoughts in your first draft, focus on getting the words written down. Do put periods, commas, and question marks. When you revise, you can change things around to make your meaning clearer.

You’ll be surprised how much your write when you get in what I call the “ZONE.” When you’re fully into your writing and oblivious to what’s going on around you. Set up a safe environment. Set aside time for you! Have someone watch your children. If they are the age to write – have a family time to write or draw in the same room. When I taught school, we did it in the classroom. You can do it in your home.

A sentence has a subject and a predicate. A noun or pronoun and a verb.

John walks.

He walks.

She walks.

A command has a verb (action word) and a subject that is not said but understood that it is the pronoun “you.”

I’ll bet you knew who your mother was talking to when she called, “Come here this instant.”

If things in your story are intense and scary, you’ll probably want short sentences. When things are more relaxed, you’ll probably make them longer.

I’ve written blog posts about sentences that you might find helpful in your study to encourage you to begin or to renew your belief in yourself as a writer.

  1. How to Write a Good Sentence
  2. How Many Words Should Your Sentences Contain?
  3. Get Rid of Passive Voice
  4. First Lines from Non-Fiction Best Sellers
  5. Make Your Character’s Actions Show Emotions

Here’s the key to keep you writing. Silence your inner critic. Tell it to go on vacation for awhile. Study about writing. Take an online course. Read blogs about the problem you’ve encountered. Read at least 3 books in the genre of your writing choice.

Put a 3×5 or 4×6 index card on your computer that says one of the following or something positive that’s meaningful to you:

  1. I am a best-selling author.
  2. I am a great writer.
  3. Thousands of people buy books to read what I write.

I know that you need encouragement. Each of us does. Be your own encourager to reach the goals that God sets in your heart and mind. God will help you. You may find people along the sidelines of your life that say things that stop you in your tracks. Chances are they mean well. Remember that people base their opinions on their experiences. If they are afraid for you, it’s because something happened that frightened them. Be assured that God is going to help you get to your goal. Believe in yourself. Set a path. Look for ways to help you get there. Rise above the experiences that seem to stop you. I believe in you. God believes in you. Believe in yourself and go forward and take that first step. Get a pen or pencil in your hand or a sit in front of a computer and write until you’re weary! If your goal doesn’t have anything to do with writing, that’s okay. These same principles apply to what you want to do. Believe in you. Do it. If you have problems figuring out something, search for a way to help you!

Why not write a sentence or two or three. Go ahead. Do it.

Here’s a link to DAY 1 in this series: Why Not? Day 1 Write. Go ahead.

I’d love to hear from you. You give me life. Click on comment and scroll down to the bottom of the page.


Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join over 373 Valued Subscribers and receive entertaining, encouraging posts PLUS 3 free gifts:

  1. Never Give Up image
  2. 20 Affirmations for Writers
  3. Ten Time Savers for Writers and Illustrators
%d bloggers like this: