Saturday, April 27, 2013

Writerly Advice from Editor Trish Owens

Hello Readers, Today I am welcoming Editor Trish Owens over for a quick Q&A. This should be a great read for all budding and established authors. There will certainly be things you know, but I am quite sure there may be many gems hidden inside that will help you along your writing career. Pull up your seat, take a deep, slow sip from your oversized coffee mug, and enjoy a fun and informative post with something for everyone.
Cheers, Chase


1.) What is GMC?

 GMC is a term coined eons ago (I don't want to credit the wrong person and get in trouble) revolving around the Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts of your characters. GMC really makes the difference between boring and exciting in a story. If you use the Wizard of  Oz as a discussion point, Dorothy's first goal is to get to the Emerald City, her motivation is to go home, and her conflict is each stumbling block that is presented along the Yellow Brick Road. 

GMC can change throughout a story, too. Half-way through the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy's goal changes to focus on getting the witch's broom. Motivations can change as well. She was motivated to throw water at the witch because the witch was going to set Scarecrow on fire. Dorothy didn’t realize the witch would melt, so without that motivation she wouldn’t have gotten the job done.

Conflict can be internal and external. Dorothy’s internal conflict would be her inability to accept that there is more to home than meets the eye. Her external conflict is how she’s going to get there. If you remember, she wasn’t able to go home until she solved her internal conflict. J Pretty snazzy.

2.) As an editor what are the most common mistakes you see in a self-published authors work?

 The most common mistakes I see in self published works are common typos or grammar errors the eye easily passes over when it's your own work. When you read that sentence, you know the word is supposed to be there so it's easily glossed over. I bet if you comb through this post you will find errors. J I feel it's important to have someone review your story with a critical eye to catch what you missed. If you’re self-publishing, I strongly suggest you hire an editor to review your work so readers are purchasing a quality book. If you’re traditionally published, your editor will thank you and will be eager to buy more books because you’re professional and easy to work with.

Self-editing tips:

·         Review grammar and spelling rules. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is an awesome grammar book to add to your shelf.

·         Change your font before re-reading. It makes the story look different to the eye and mistakes are suddenly easier to see.

·         Go old school and make a print copy to correct.

·         Read your work aloud. You can catch a lot of errors that way, including sentences that don't flow well. 

·         When you edit, start at a random spot, like in the middle, or toward the end. Eyes get tired, and if you’re reading to the same spot accurately and then blowing over the rest, you’ll miss mistakes in the back of your story.

·         Some people read the story backwards. I’ve never done this, but give it a try.


3) What is the importance of POV?

 Point of view (POV) is an important part of any story. Have you ever watched a movie with really bad camera work? Maybe the camera bounces from character to character very quickly without giving the viewer a chance to focus. Your POV is your camera angle for your story, only you get to go one step deeper and hear internal dialogue as well. If you jump from character to character it's hard to focus on who is speaking and thinking. I don't mind a POV change mid-scene, especially during sex scenes, but hopping rapidly from head to head makes it hard to get deep into the flow of the story. I feel the rule of thumb is to stay in the POV of the character with the most at stake. 

You’re probably aware of the different points of view used. I prefer past third, which is most directly in the heroine/hero's thoughts without being in first person. You can get the deepest into the character's soul without rambling (sometimes first person can get verbose.) Some genres, like Young Adult and New Adult tend to like first person and there’s a rash of stories told in alternating point of view. It needs to be really clear whose brain you’re in when you use first person or it’s frustrating.


4) What is a common editorial pet peeve?

 I don't know if my pet peeves are common, but here they are. I have several words that are like nails on a chalkboard for me. Body, move and felt all give me shivers of the bad kind. They're all vague, passive and overused. Example: He moved his body against hers and it felt good. Ugh. Better: He shoved deeper, twisting his hips so his pubic bone hit her clit. She moaned and arched her back, her fingers digging into his ass. 

I hate passive writing. If you’re using had or was it’s probably passive. Involve the reader with past tense verbs. Crappy example: She was sad. Better example: Sadness gripped her heart and wrenched, ripping a hole in her chest. Okay, that was cheesy, but it’s better than the first one.

I hate rejecting authors. I want nothing more than to read your submission and to buy it. So do your absolute best to give me something to pitch to my senior editor!

5) What is your viewpoint on new authors seeking out advice to improve their writing?

 It's great if new authors are looking to improve and it shows they’re truly committed to their craft and giving their readers the best they can offer. Everyone has room for improvement, no matter how many books they've published. Some people work well with books. I like James Frey’s How To Write A Damned Good Novel for learning about great dialogue and other crucial story components.

I am a fan of Romance Writers of America. They do a great job of teaching new authors the ropes as well as supporting established authors. Finding a GOOD critique group is a great way to get feedback, as are beta readers.

6) I know within the first five pages if it's going to be a story I'll consider buying. I might thumb ahead and see if things get better, but it’s usually fairly clear. You may not be submitting to an editor, but many book sellers offer a free portion of your book to sample. You want to hook these readers into clicking buy when they hit the end of your sample.

·         Start with a great opening hook.

·         Begin your story with the pivotal moment in a character’s life that sparks change. This will get the reader involved and invested in your characters and their plight.

·         Avoid unnecessary back story. A lot of stories start with extra details you just don’t need, or can be filtered into the story later for more insight.

·         Dialogue is crucial for moving your story forward. Make sure it’s not boring, every day dialogue but a conversation that really sparks the reader into wanting to know more.

·         Is it formatted correctly? Spell-checked? Are the verbs active instead of passive? Is the point of view clear and concise? Nothing says professionalism like a clean, edited, formatted manuscript.

7) What is your opinion on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?

That’s a great question There are pros and cons to both venues. With traditional publishing, you have the editing staff, cover artist and marketing director on your side, helping you. Most publishers have a way to get your books to reviewers for consideration. You still have to promote your work, though. Gone is the day where you sit at home and write while the publisher takes out glossy ads. The downsides are contract stipulations, getting paid a lower royalty, and the potential of getting a dud of a publisher. Do your homework; go with someone who is established with a good reputation. Ask questions about the contract and get a lawyer to review it if you’re unsure.

Self publishing gives you complete control for your product and higher royalty rates. However, you’re a one-person band, and that control can detract from your writing time. Your cover still sells your book, despite being a digital society. A great blurb is a must, good editing very crucial. It’s nice to have a professional formatter create files to gift readers or deliver to reviewers. Those services cost money to produce a great product for readers. You’ll have to hunt down reviews on your own, and a lot of reviewers won’t consider an indie book unless it’s been professionally edited. Then you have to promote yourself and your work.

My suggestion? Try to get in with a publisher first. When you consider the expense needed to turn out a quality product you can charge more than a few bucks for, it’s worth taking a reduced royalty rate until you learn the business and get a following going. I would suggest writing a ton of books, submitting to a few different houses to get readers from different venues, and create a following. THEN, when you have a little money and a readership begging for more, go for the self-published books and see what happens.

8) What is the best advice for authors?

·         Write the book of your heart. What’s popular now might be dead when you finish, so writing what you love is a smarter choice.

·         Finish up and start another book instead of revising the same one over and over.

·          You’re probably not going to have an instant best seller, but you can earn a good living by having a nice backlist for readers to devour.

·         Submit to publishers and listen to their advice if they give it.

·         Give yourself a goal with every book—expanding conflict, better dialogue, more emotion, adding adventure, different point of view.

·         Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Write because you love it, not to earn money.

·         Lastly, don’t give up.  



The Wild Rose Press, Inc. is the erotic catalog is the regular catalog 


Trish Owens, Scarlet Editor (Scarlet is the erotic line) 


I've worked with TWRP since 2007 and enjoy helping authors take their books to the next level. I love all genres of writing from BDSM to sweeter erotic romance. Hot stories with kink sell the best, and readers seem to love cowboys and military men, but don't let that limit your imagination! 



  1. Great post!! Loved the tips on changing the font and reading aloud! Thank you both for some great tips! Passing this along :)

  2. Interesting...thanks!

    And now, my Strunk and White trivia: do you know the only book White is MORE famous for than the writer's style guide?

    Charlotte's Web. Yup. Really. The book about the runt pig and the spider who is his biggest fan.

  3. Thank you so much for featuring Trish on this subject! Her advise has been well considered and will hopefully show in my future writings. I will definitely pass this on to all of my fellow authors!

  4. This is a keeper. I'm printing it! Thank you for this fantastic advice!

  5. Fabulous post. Thanks Chase. I agree with previous comments, particularly like the idea of changing font for read through. I bought Strunk and White having read Steven King's 'On Writing' good to see that Trish Owens also recommends.

    Thank you Trish for sharing. Inspirational.

    Liz x

  6. GREAT post! It's interesting to see an editors POV. Thanks, Chase!

  7. Wonderful post! I loved the advice! You can't hear it enough!