Latest Event Updates

The Writer’s Reader

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Welcome all indie authors and writers. Congratulations on finishing your novel ! This is an exciting time and I am here to help you move to the next step. Your draft is ready for another set of eyes and I am here to be your reader and/or editor. The Writer’s Reader edits and beta reads for both established authors and new writers eager to publish their first book whether the choice is to self-publish or publish traditionally. Specializing in helping new writers, I gently guide new author’s novels to grammatical accuracy and perfect a storyline that will grab the reader in the first paragraph! Do you want line-editing, a beta-read, proofreading, developmental editing or something in between? I provide all of these.

  •  Beta Reading: I will evaluate your story, for plot, POV, characterization, natural dialogue, continuity, etc.
  • Line-editing: I will assure that texts are free of common errors such as, non-parallel sentence structure, pronoun reference, POV shifts or improper subject–verb agreement. Texts are checked for proper grammar as well as effective sentence structure, pace, organization, flow and character development.
  •  Proofreading: I will humanly and electronically correct grammatical errors and typos.

My rates are way below the norm and my credentials above the norm. Five years working for a New York trade publishing house (now Penguin USA), 4 years managing an independent bookstore (buyer), BA in English Lit, college composition instructor (please forgive me) and avid reader, all make me abundantly qualified to edit and beta-read. And I am fast! I can generally read a novel and critique it in 2-3 weeks. Reply to this post, add your email address and I will contact you directly for more details about submitting a sample. You can also send me a sample directly to sharonumbaugh@gmail.com. NOW BOOKING FOR October 2017.

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The Opening Hook

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In the first few pages, perhaps not even the first chapter, a reader makes a decision to continue reading…..or not. A captivating hook will compel your reader to flip the page. How do you do this?

Conflicts can show what the character is trying to achieve, or identify a problem so the reader is pulled in to want to find out the outcome. Or perhaps a unique setting or time period could entice the reader or maybe there is something peculiar about the character that is intriguing. Basically, you want your reader to want MORE!

It’s a common and fatal mistake to begin your novel by simply introducing the characters or diving directly into action.

I can help you energize those beginning pages and chapters!

Conflict in your narrative

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Edit for Conflict
Conflict

Does your story begin with some sort of conflict—either internal or external?
Does the beginning set up the bigger “conflict” of the entire novel, the issue that drives your protagonist toward his/her end goal?
Is your protagonist conflicted or is embroiled in some external conflict?
Are there too many conflicts going on in tthe book? Too few?
Is there an overarching conflict present in the story that is key to the premise and grows to a climax and resolution?
Does your protagonist face one conflict or obstacle after another (each worse than the previous) that force him/her to have to make a tough decision(s)?
Does the conflict serve the interest of the story or is it just thrown in the book for excitement?

The Beta “Brain” Read

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I offer a service called beta “brain” reading. This, to my knowledge, is something that no one else offers. Basically, it is a look into my mind, my thoughts as I read. I comment in Word’s track changes feature. This will allow you to follow my line of thinking, and by doing this, you will see your novel through a fresh pair of eyes. When I am finished, I offer my writers an opportunity to dialogue with me about any of my comments or their concerns about the novel or the publishing business. I am told that both of these services are extremely beneficial.

Avoid Dialogue Tags

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Dialogue tags get in the way of smooth writing; they can be jarring to a reader.  Yes, I know they say, ‘he said/she said” are invisible to the reader but they are really not. Why settle for something so boring? You write a sparkling line of dialogue, and slap ‘he said’ on the end? Why not continue the sparkle instead?

But first, a few rules of dialog you may or may not be familiar with:
1. The ONLY time you need a tag is if the reader wouldn’t know who was speaking otherwise. If there is only a man and a woman in the scene, and someone says, “Excuse me, I have to go to the ladies room.” do you really need a tag? Many times the dialogue itself cues the reader.
2. Names. I’ll bet you need them a lot less often than you think. Of course they’re essential at the beginning of the scene, because we need to know who’s in it. But unless there are more than two people, you probably never need use the names after that.
3. Tags slow the conversation. In conflict, nothing kills the tension like unneeded tags.
4. Adverbs after tags are old school This is the worst offender, and it’s seen as a newbie error. Yes, I know you could pick up a book in your library that has a line like, “How dare you?” She asked indignantly. Turn to the front of the book. I’d be willing to bet that the book was published before 1970. Nowadays, readers are much more sophisticated. Easy way to edit them out? do a ‘Find’ for ‘ly’.

A dialogue cue on the other hand adds detail. . It cues the reader in as to whom is speaking, but then goes much farther, telling the reader how the line of dialogue is being said. It can add body movement – and give a glimpse into how a POV character, or better yet, a non-POV character is feeling. It adds richness.
Here are some examples before and after adding the dialogue cues.
BEFORE:  “We don’t need your boyfriend’s charity,” Max said.
AFTER: “We don’t need your boyfriend’s charity.” His voice sounded like a peach pit in a garbage disposal.
BEFORE:  “I’ve hunkered down here for years with my hard, silent Dad. I held on tight, trying to keep things from changing,” he said.
AFTER: “I’ve hunkered down here for years with my hard, silent Dad. I held on tight, trying to keep things from changing.” He looked down at his bloodless fists.
BEFORE:  “But if you don’t know all this about yourself, it doesn’t matter what I think,” He said.
AFTER:  “But if you don’t know all this about yourself, it doesn’t matter what I think.” He shut his mouth, closed his eyes, and grabbed for all the guts he had.
BEFORE:  “Oh, Bree,” Wyatt said.
AFTER:  “Oh, Bree.” His words trailed off, as if he’d run out of breath.

Do you see how the dialogue cue not only tells you whom is speaking, but shows you how they’re saying it? It’s a perfect opportunity to get the reader on a deeper level, and to write fresh at the same time.

Read over a dialogue sequence you’ve written. Did you find any extraneous tags? Have you thought of any way to jazz them up and write them fresh?

Content Editing

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What is content editing?

Content editing addresses the following:

Passive voice or weak construction
Conflict/tension
Descriptions and narrative
Inconsistencies and repetition
Pacing
Clunky or unclear passages
Plot issues
Point-of-view problems
Poor word choice
Showing vs. telling
Awkward, stiff, or inappropriate dialogue
Redundancies
Sentence clarity/structure

Editing Opening Chapters

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After professionally editing and beta reading for both new and established writers, I have noticed a particular need. Often writers are skeptical and unconfident about their first chapters, unsure about the strength of the story or style of writing and indecisive about whether to even continue a particular story. It occurred to me that offering a service to read beginning chapters of potential novels could help writers determine the course of the novel, saving them unnecessary time if an element of the novel is not working. This is not so much an edit but more of a “beta brain read” that allows the writer to know what I am thinking while reading, considering character motivation, conflict, setting, dialogue, language, voice, tone and much more.  If you would like to consider this service, please contact me at sharonumbaugh@gmail.com. Of course, I offer full beta reads as well as complete editing, specializing in literary fiction, contemporary fictions, YA and fantasy.