Hey, Look at Me!

by John Robert Marlow
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Hey, Look at Me! Intrusive, Chatty, and Explanatory Writing
by John Robert Marlow

Authors have a single, overriding function: to connect reader and story. At our best, we immerse the reader so thoroughly in the world of our story that the “real” world disappears and, for a time, there is nothing but the story. That’s the kind of experience readers hope for and deserve. It’s a zen-like state that is not easily achieved.

Is Your Book a Movie?

by John Robert Marlow
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Is Your Book a Movie? A Crash Course in Book-to-Screen Adaptation
by John Robert Marlow

Is your book a movie? Should it be? How do you get there from here—and what’s in it for you? Fasten your seatbelt, and let’s rip through this…


Let’s face it: being an author is a noble profession, but reaching the financial pinnacle of our chosen profession requires more than the ability to put brilliant words on paper.

Repeat Offenders

by John Robert Marlow
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Repeat Offenders: Why Repetition is Bad Bad Bad
by John Robert Marlow


There’s an old joke that goes like this:

“Pete and Repete sat on a fence. Pete fell off. Who was left?”


“Pete and Repete sat on a fence. Pete fell off. Who was left…?”

The joke continues until the guy answering the question wises up. Too many budding authors never do.

Bouncing Eyeballs

by John Robert Marlow
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Bouncing Eyeballs and Other Unintended Meanings
by John Robert Marlow


Unintended meanings are mood-killers. This is as true on the page as is it is in life: you say one thing, your listener hears another, and trouble soon follows. They heard every word you said, and accurately too—but they took those words to mean something very different from what you intended.

Consider the following passage:

“His eyes bounced between Teddy, Mandy, the girl, the geologist, then back to Franklin.”

Self Editing Blog Library

by John Robert Marlow
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The Self Editing Blog Library

Click here to visit the Self Editing Blog Library. (You can also click on the small library image near the top of every page.)

Many new books and descriptions on the way; we’re just getting started here.

What A Coincidence!

by John Robert Marlow
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What a Coincidence! The Use and (Mostly) Misuse of Coincidence
by John Robert Marlow


Few things are more deadly in the hands of the inexperienced. Not coincidentally, few things can destroy believability and author credibility with greater efficiency. With astonishingly few exceptions—most of which relate to works of comedy—the use of coincidence to move the plot forward marks the writer as a hack in the eyes of agents, publishers, and readers.

The Name Game

by John Robert Marlow
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The Name Game: When Good Names Go Bad
by John Robert Marlow

Names are a source of much unnecessary confusion. Even perfectly good names can be poor choices when they mix with the wrong sort—which, oddly enough, can themselves be perfectly respectable in different company.

Flashing the Reader

by John Robert Marlow
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Flashing the Reader: Flashbacks and Other Perilous Transitions
by John Robert Marlow


Few works of fiction relate events in a continuous flow, from start to finish. Sometimes the story moves back in time (as with flashbacks); more often it jumps forward, sparing the reader the dull details of ordinary life. Frequently, the transition will take the reader from one location (and set of characters) to another, lending a godlike perspective unavailable to the characters themselves. Each of these transitions has its place—and each is fraught with peril.

Opening with a Bang

by John Robert Marlow
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Opening with a Bang May Be Shooting Yourself in the Foot
by John Robert Marlow


Many authors feel compelled to open their stories with a scene involving their hero in action and/or high drama. This is particularly true of those writing in the action/adventure and science fiction genres. But unless you know what to avoid here, this is almost always a mistake—and it can be a fatal one.