LEARN HOW STORIES WORK
WHILE WRITING YOUR OWN NOVEL
The One-On-One Coaching Advantage:
Put Theory Into Practice
EVEN ON YOUR FIRST BOOK
THE STORY INCUBATOR
Accelerate your book’s development with three revelatory months of story and scene coaching. This is the on-ramp to an edit-ready draft.
Whether this is your first book or you’re a seasoned author, sweep readers into your story world with an irresistible story and compelling characters.
Give your book the professional polish it deserves. Line editing stretches your writing skills and elevates your prose so readers will keep turning pages.
THE PLOT ACCELERATOR
Don’t spin your wheels on a story that isn’t all there yet. Write a stronger story with the process that’s been called a “developmental edit in a bottle.”
Transforming New Writers
into emerging novelists
Specializing in Fiction from Emerging Novelists
What if you finally understood what's going on under the hood of your novel manuscript?
No more stumbling through rough drafts, then paying an editor to help you find the story inside. You'll write a better book from the start, from concept and story to the words on the page.
As your story coach, I'll help you connect theory with practice. As your editor, I'll show the narrative techniques that make your writing connect with readers. You'll pick up strategies and knowledge you'll use the rest of your writing career.
This is your writing, but smarter. Your book, but better.
"(Lisa's) the real deal. Simply awesome. In the last six months, I have learned so much. And more than that, the voice inside my head has changed her tune. Now I hear, 'You're going to do this.'"—Emile Horne
"After completing the Plot Accelerator course with Lisa ... I've just hit 30K words after making a lot of cuts and reducing it to 15K. Now I’m back to where I started with a much stronger story. Nothing is lost in the process. The scenes that will never be read have enhanced my own understanding of the protagonist's situation. Originally intended to be a novella, Collisville is now writing itself. Here's to words that grow organically! Stories shouldn't be forced. Motivation drives the characters. Characters drive the action! Action and reaction IS the story."—J. C. Thomas
Empower Yourself As A Writer
This is the power of a little help from a coach. (More success stories here.)
Do you know why your story will keep readers turning pages—
or are you only guessing?
Book coaching vs. editing: What’s the difference?
If you’re all about the credo “move fast and break things,” you may feel confident diving from writing into self-revision and then editing. But if you like to get the lay of the land before trying new things, or if you’d appreciate having an experienced guide to call on as you’re writing, a book coach Read more about Book coaching vs. editing: What’s the difference?[…]
3 Action-Reaction Misfires That Flatten Your Writing
Action and reaction—everything in a story depends on what the characters do about whatever the story pits against them. Stiff, disconnected, or missing character reactions snap the chain of cause and effect that constitutes your story. When readers can no longer see how and why the characters are doing what they’re doing, they lose the Read more about 3 Action-Reaction Misfires That Flatten Your Writing[…]
Feedback or Editing: What Sort of Input to Get When
Should you—could you—be getting feedback on your book from peers or readers, or is it time to get professional eyes on your manuscript? My latest post as a resident writing coach at Writers Helping Writers explains when it’s time for what in your book’s development. Much of the choice hinges on what you can afford. Read more about Feedback or Editing: What Sort of Input to Get When[…]
The secret to authentic character voice
Vocabulary and the way a character speaks are the outer layer of character voice—the icing on the cake. Instead of trying to build character voice from the outside in, get under the character’s skin by revealing how they experience and interpret the story world from the inside out. Character voice bubbles up organically when every aspect of Read more about The secret to authentic character voice[…]
Best Practices for Working With a Professional Editor
It’s actually happening: You’ve hired a professional editor and it’s time to send off the manuscript. Congratulations! Now it’s business time. What should you expect from the editing process? Are there contracts? Deadlines? When should you expect to make payments, and how much? How long will editing take? Will the editor check the grammar of Read more about Best Practices for Working With a Professional Editor[…]
Is my writing good enough?
“Is my writing good enough?” is one of the first questions most writers ask when they get in touch about editing or coaching. Unfortunately, I can’t answer that because there’s an intrinsic problem with the question: Green-lighting manuscripts (for querying, for further development, for self-publishing) isn’t what manuscript editors do. Whether or not your book Read more about Is my writing good enough?[…]
When are you ready for professional editing?
Getting a manuscript ready for professional editing is notoriously painstaking work. It drags you into seemingly endless rounds of scrutiny: searching for plot holes, questioning the characters’ motivations, adding zing to the dialogue, and squashing typos and grammatical errors. With so much ground to cover, a revision plan ensures you’re not overlooking anything. What’s not Read more about When are you ready for professional editing?[…]
Updated: Best books on writing for writers
Do you get sucked into spending more time reading about writing fiction than actually doing it? I’ve just updated my short list of the best books on writing, so you can level up and take the techniques back to your manuscript. One of my favorite ways to help writers is recommending books that will help Read more about Updated: Best books on writing for writers[…]
Cues for review or revision
It’s all too easy to overstuff your writing when you’re striving for a natural, unstrained tone. We lean on filler words in conversation to soften our speech and build connections, but these words don’t convey enough information to be effective in writing. The internet is peppered with lists of “words to cut from your writing.” Read more about Cues for review or revision[…]
Tangled up in Track Changes?
If you’ve never used Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature before, the idea of getting your manuscript back from an editor filled with all sorts of lines and squiggles you have to do something to in order to keep your novel from plummeting precipitously through a fiery ring of digital destruction and disappearing into the black Read more about Tangled up in Track Changes?[…]
Top 10 reasons to join a writing community
Writing is a supposedly solitary endeavor, but successful authors know that a supporting writing community is worth its weight in gold. Like-minded colleagues keep you aloft during the long, parched weeks of revision. They’re friendly allies when you need an outside eye on your story or writing. They’re seasoned repositories of first-hand publishing and marketing Read more about Top 10 reasons to join a writing community[…]
How much money do novelists make?
So how much money can you make writing novels, anyway? For traditionally published author income, short of a few blockbuster outliers, the total is probably neither as substantial nor as reliable as you might assume. On the flip side, the income potential of self-publishing has evolved dramatically in entirely different ways over the past handful Read more about How much money do novelists make?[…]
The Conscious Writer: Taking back your creative power
When a manuscript isn’t firing on all cylinders, there are so many ways to shift responsibility: Characters that run away with a life of their own. Plotting systems that strip nuance and meaning. Agents who press for writing to market. It’s not my fault, writers think; the characters (or this dumb outline, or my annoying Read more about The Conscious Writer: Taking back your creative power[…]
Publishing options: Which one is right for you?
Today’s publishing options have changed since you first dreamed about getting your book into print. Most authors arrive on my editorial doorstep declaring their intentions of finding literary representation, with the caveat that “I’m open to self-publishing, I guess, if nothing else comes along.” Please don’t handicap yourself with such an indecisive start. Waffling over publishing options Read more about Publishing options: Which one is right for you?[…]
Prewriting: 6 parts of the writing process that aren’t writing
This article is about the parts of writing a novel that don’t involve writing. It’s not about the business side of being an author. It’s not about book design and production. It’s also not about book marketing or promotion. This article is about the process of getting your story onto the page, and a lot Read more about Prewriting: 6 parts of the writing process that aren’t writing[…]
How to Begin Writing Memoir
Many authors are first called to writing by the lure of memoir. Exploring the interior of one’s own life is heady stuff. And in a world held at arm’s length by Covid-19, bestselling memoirs (Wild, Becoming, Educated …) have captured the imaginations of readers eager to bridge gaps and slip into someone else’s shoes. New Read more about How to Begin Writing Memoir[…]
Productivity for Fiction Writers: Small strategies to keep you inching along
Stories demand so much from us. Taking apart the engine of a story and putting it together—that’s hard work, my friends. Much as your brain tugs at the knots of your story while you’re in the shower, or at the kitchen sink, or in the car, I too worry and fret over your stories. That Read more about Productivity for Fiction Writers: Small strategies to keep you inching along[…]
How long should you query your manuscript?
The decision on how long to query your manuscript can’t be determined by a formula. There’s always the chance that your very next query will knock at the right door at the right time to generate that singular confluence of fortunate events resulting in emails and phone calls and contracts and publication. But let’s face Read more about How long should you query your manuscript?[…]
Keep It Rolling: Writing momentum hacks for authors
We’re all familiar with the idea of getting the ideas on the page first, then revising and polishing later. You’ll spin your wheels endlessly if you indulge your desire to polish every chapter, every scene, and every line before moving on the next. Finish first, fiddle later. There’s more to succeeding at this than Herculean Read more about Keep It Rolling: Writing momentum hacks for authors[…]
Productivity for Fiction Writers: Giving yourself the opportunity to write
When writing is a habit and not merely a goal, tackling a creative project as large as a novel becomes manageable. Despite everything happening in the world today, writing can serve as your refuge if it’s something you’re used to turning to in your daily routine. Build your writing habit When writing is a habit Read more about Productivity for Fiction Writers: Giving yourself the opportunity to write[…]
The Editing Podcast’s 18 writing blogs for editors and authors
Just look at this lineup of writing craft blogs and resources for authors and editors from Louise Harnby and Denise Cowle of The Editing Podcast. Denise and Louise are two pro editors in the UK who help authors publish better books. I’m honored to be listed among these leading resources for writers and editors. Among Read more about The Editing Podcast’s 18 writing blogs for editors and authors[…]
Updated for 2020: Best books for writers
Updated for 2020: Best books for writers of fiction It’s been a stressful year to try to write a novel. It feels easier for many authors to step back from their own pages and reframe their thinking. How do experienced authors go about developing a concept into a novel? What are turning points and what Read more about Updated for 2020: Best books for writers[…]
Best places to find a professional editor
In an age when anyone can hang out a shingle on the internet as a fiction editor, sniffing out the best places to find an editor falls to authors. “I’ve been a bookworm all my life,” a prospective editor may exclaim. Or “I understand writing because I’ve written a novel.” But claims like these are Read more about Best places to find a professional editor[…]
A tiny collection of better ways to write more
What have you done to support your creative self lately? Oh, stop flopping about trying to think of something—it’s just an article, not a test—and get busy sampling all these delicious productivity resources for writers. You’ll be in the writing groove in no time. I’ve been experimenting lately with tools that keep my daily goals Read more about A tiny collection of better ways to write more[…]
Avoid this editing misconception that could sabotage your writing
Cleaning up messes is standard operating procedure for editors. Whether we’re handed story messes such as plot holes, writing messes such as head-hopping, or mechanical messes such as three different spellings of a character’s name, we’re ready to take on the work you need help with. We just want to make sure you’re not creating Read more about Avoid this editing misconception that could sabotage your writing[…]