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Brenda Hill 

  Book Editing Services

Editing for Content

The Most Difficult. It requires reading the manuscript for plot development and progression as well as character development.

The following are a few things I look for, even with a 1st Chapter Analysis:

First paragraphs:

Do they hook the reader into wanting to read more? How about the first chapter? Has it done its job?

Character introduction:

Does the reader get to know your hero/heroine and want to root for them, or are they cardboard, leaving your reader unconcerned about their fate? Do your characters come on stage in the right place?

How about setting? Are your descriptions setting the scene, or do they go on and on until the reader's eyes glaze? Do you use the rule of three?   

Overall structure:

Is the novel progressing? Are there plot points? If so, are they used in the right places?

How about scene and sequel? Dialogue?

Pacing: Every writer is guilty of an occasional passive sentence. Sometimes, it's the best way to present that particular thought. But if you use too many of them, your novel will drag and your slow pacing will destroy reader interest. Soon they're thinking of the dishes that need to be washed. Or the laundry. Or anything other than your book.

Too fast is just as deadly. Does your story whiz by so rapidly the reader doesn't have time to breathe? Highs and lows are the answer.

Front-loading' sentences are another drag on pacing. As with passive sentences, an occasional one is fine. It's when they are the majority that your novel crawls or sounds cumbersome.

Do you stay in the Correct Viewpoint? Do you know when to change? 'Head-hopping' shows an amateur at work.

Are you guilty of overusing Metaphors/Similes? Clichés? Do you let adjectives and/or adverbs convey your descriptions rather than using the craft of writing?

Do you have Cliff-hangers? And do your Participles Dangle so far they're in danger of falling off the page?

If you're not aware of the items mentioned above, don't worry; I'll help you.


Sandra stood at her third-story office window and watched the rain splatter the downtown Los Angeles streets. Below, men and women scurried for their cars, bus stops, or to the Metro Link for their ride home at the end of another workday. Sandra wished she were among them, but she had promised her boss she'd have the sales report completed and on his desk by eight in the morning. That meant at least another two hours of work.

Just as she was turning from the window, something, a certain movement perhaps, caught her attention and she looked back. A man with a black umbrella and gray raincoat walked on the opposite side of the street, keeping a steady pace behind another man. Each carried a briefcase. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Sandra idly watched, knowing she should quit stalling and tackle the intricate, twenty-page report. The overtime would come in handy, as she had promised her daughter, Joy, a special birthday treat next weekend, and the five-year-old kept up a steady chatter of questions about the big surprise. A trip to Disneyland wasn't in Sandra's budget, but they had been through so much with the divorce and change in babysitters. And, she hoped to soothe her daughter's disappointment over her father's lack of interest toward her.

The man with the umbrella closed the distance to the man in front, weaving in and out of the foot traffic in perfect coordination.   

What were they doing?

Just as the duo was directly across from her window, the man with the umbrella reached into his briefcase and retrieved something small and dark. It looked like a gun.

Sandra frowned. It couldn't be, not on a public street with people all around.  

The gunman aimed at the man's back, right below the left shoulder.  

No! She had to warn him! She pounded on the window, trying to get someone's attention.

The gunman fired.

Sandra screamed, but no one could hear through the thick plate glass. Frozen, she stared at the scene in front of her.

The wounded man dropped. The gunman quickly fired two more shots. A pedestrian stopped and stared, two others hurried away. No one paid attention to the gunman. One woman rushed to the fallen man and kneeled by his side.

Still walking, the gunman dropped the weapon into his pocket. Then, as if suddenly aware of someone watching him, he glanced at Sandra's window.

Their gazes locked and she forgot to breathe.  

She stumbled back from the window. She bumped her desk and fumbled behind her for the lamp.

He stared at her window.

She had to turn off the light, had to disappear.

Too late.

 He had crossed the street and was heading for her building.