If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Monday, January 31, 2011


When two new members joined my critique group, The Mayhem Gang, getting us all on the same page was imperative both literally and figuratively. The two original members, another writer and I, had critiqued our manuscripts up to page 100. We decided to stop and go back to page 1 so that the new members could catch-up. That meant that they would read my already critiqued pages. What writer could resist the urge to implement revisions before new readers’ critiqued?

To me, first draft writing is like creating in a vacuum. I fill the empty page with words, hoping that readers identify with characters and find my story intriguing. Without obtaining reader reaction, my writing gauge, I have no way of knowing if I’ve achieved my writing objectives, as if my sonar depth finder hasn’t bounced off the ocean floor to give me a picture of the underwater landscape. Obtaining critiques gives me a map for revisions. The following elements seem to be those I hone with frequency.

• Tone My main character’s attitude and perspective sets the tone of my work. In revisions, I make sure that readers like my main character, feel the character has authenticity, and that the language I’ve used portrays her to full potential.

• Plot Elements Writers know the full story, including the backstory, and forget that the reader doesn’t have this knowledge. What seems like a logical action made by the main character may seem unrealistic to the reader, which blows the writer’s credibility. In revising, any deficit in this logic must be overcome by providing a natural basis substantiating the main character’s actions, bolstering authenticity, or the plot must be adjusted. Plot revisions may require additional research to provide factual data, helping the credibility factor.

• Tension Insight gained through critiques is invaluable for gauging emotional intensity, which also affects pacing. Atmosphere, psychological landscape, pivotal plot elements all contribute to creating tension, but the building block applies to the next revision item—

• Action Bringing more action into a scene doesn’t just mean car chases and gun fire, it may mean cutting those previously crafted feelings that your character reveals to the reader through her thoughts. When I critique others work, the first thing I edit out is, “Sallie thought and realized...,” and ask what did Sallie do? Actions speak louder than words. Your character’s thoughts don’t add action.

• Pacing has more to do with what is left out than what is left in the story. If your story keeps referring to the past, you’re writing the wrong story. Timing, when your character gains knowledge and reacts to it, creates the pace. Revealing too much too soon can blow pacing, as can doing the opposite.

• Word Smithing—which leads back to the first element—tone. Crafting sentences conveying accurate meaning defines word smithing. In writing short stories, I’d add using the fewest words to that meaning. It’s nearly impossible to perfect and is a waste of time to word smith in the first draft. Why smith what may change? Once your critique partners have given you the thumbs-up, sculpting the language appropriately for the characters and plot finishes your manuscript like that top coat of nail polish. One note: An occasional passive tense sentence is normal, but passive language bores readers.

What part of the writing process do you like best? When you revise, what elements do you find yourself habitually rewriting? Have you tried a professional editing to advance your writing?


Pauline Alldred said...

I find the comments of an intelligent reader invaluable, not only in pointing out the weaknesses of my writing but also in pointing out the strengths. I wouldn't want to revise what is working out of my manuscript. Does the reader like the main character? Where isn't the plot working? That's what I want to know above all. Guppy critiques are helped so much.

Warren Bull said...

A good critique leaves me wondering why I did not see for myself what is so obvious to the reviewer. After reading my work over and over I no longer read the words and read the intention in stead.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Gosh, what a difficult question, Elaine. I guess I see my manuscripts like a giant pot, until I finally let go of them and submit, I can tweak until it boils over -- and that's not necessarily a good thing.

I have two critique groups, my in town in person group and my mystery group. Both are invaluable.

Still, a writer has to know when to say when. Have you ever gone back tweaked something, and then wished you'd left it alone?

I've learned that if I do make tweaks to save it as Revision one, two, three etc.

I had a wonderful woman say to me once (she's a painter and an author) the first stroke is the freshest. I've never forgotten those powerful words.

Critique partners are amazing as long as they don't mess with your voice. I'm fortunate that most of my critique partners don't. If they point out plot points, things that yank them out of the story, pacing problems, etc. that makes an outstanding critique partner.

There also comes a time when you have to trust your own storytelling, however.

It's such a fine line; do you agree? Great post.

E. B. Davis said...

Yes, I do Donnell, and I'm lucky too that my critique partners don't mess with that voice. Right now, though, I have with POV issues. Seems I've stuck in a omnificent POV (me!) in the narrative without realizing it. I have to cut out that voice and keep it in my main character's voice.

Voice often comes though best in the first draft, unless the critiquer doesn understand the voice. For me, revisions are my best writing when it all comes together.

E. B. Davis said...

Shoot-I'm meant omniscient POV. Maybe I should switch my blog to another day other than Monday!

Warren Bull said...


Good point. Someone once told me you never finish writing a piece; you just stop writing. Very much like painting.