Useful Things to Say To Developing Writers

If you want to be a doctor, you go talk to your local GP. If you want to be a teacher, there are a school full of people you can ask questions. But…

One of the things that’s tough about “I want to be a writer” is finding people who have done that successfully. The results–the books that writers write–are all around you, but it’s harder to find a writer. Even if you’re hanging out with other writers, finding someone who knows how to get from that first draft to a finished product is tough.

“This Could Use Some Structural Editing/Block Revision.”

Developing writers need to know that there is more than one kind of editing. And the editing you learned about in school–with the commas and the dictionary? That’s copy editing. That’s probably not the kind of editingĀ a novel needs. At least, not at first.

In general, the longest thing you’re going to write in high school is a ten to fifteen page paper. And you’re going to do that in a matter of weeks; maybe, if you’re one of those last-minute folk, you’ll do it in days. Structural editing isn’t really a thing.

A three to four hundred page novel is a different beast. You stop. You start. You take time off for your cousin’s wedding.

Even if you started with an outline, the novel you wrote might not follow it. There could be duplicates. And you might have taken that left turn at Poughkeepsie that looked so appealing at the time.

Then, when you’re finished, you track down some unsuspecting English teacher or Librarian–or worse, a relative who “reads a lot”–and ask for their opinion.

So, for all the poor victims who are looking for something to say about that first novel that… well, it’s repetitive, and there are chunks missing, and the plot seems to veer off in the middle? That’s your line.

“This could use some Structural Editing.” or “This could use some Block Revision.”



  1. Jane Helms


    Tsk, tsk. Never place a Librarian between an English teacher and a relative who “reads a lot.” :o) Otherwise, excellent post!

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