Editing Rant: For Want of a Body

Illustration 6672404 © Gheburaseye | Dreamstime.com

It was as if her body wanted him. Not just (the female character’s name), but her body.

Why is her BODY more important than her name, her being? (pinch nose)

The author is trying to be romantic, to say (the action of sex) of his male MC with his love interest went deeper and connected to him more than anything else. This is a known toxic male trait – they have been so starved for any connection – physical, mental, and emotional that body touch is assumed to be this an amazing be-all end-all connection.

When writing, remember Name and the Person is more important than the Body.

Editing Rant: All In Moderation

Photo 18528834 © Jose Gil | Dreamstime.com
LOS ANGELES – JULY 5: Robot Chicken panel discussion at the 20008 Anime Expo at the LA Convention Center, July 5th, 2008 in Los Angeles. Cameron Baity, Chris McKay, Jeanette Moffat, Mike Fasolo, and Tim Root attended the discussion.

ConCarolinas.org is just around the corner – May 31 to June 2, 2024. Time to start prepping for all the crazy fun!

While I’m not a guest this year, I have been one at other conventions and I often end up being a moderator. You might think “How hard can it be? Being on a panel or a moderator. After all, it is just answering a bunch of questions, and writers are good with words.”

First, writers are good with WRITTEN words, coming up with them on the fly, nowhere near as easy. Second, being on stage means it is a performance, one the audience has paid to attend. As a panelist, a speaker has an obligation to put on a GOOD performance, which requires either experience or preparation or both. Being a moderator means not only performing but, also, directing this improv entertainment. Sounds like a lot of work to do for the hope of getting someone to buy a book, and you would be right.

Now, I personally love being a moderator – because I don’t like being the center of attention, but if I can make everyone else’s stars shine as brightly as possible, I’m having a great time. Below are suggestions on how to be a good moderator.

(1) Put together 5 to 7 questions. You may not get to all of them, you might not need more. But walk in with questions ready so there won’t be a lag for the audience. (if small panel – only a couple of writers, get 10 questions ready)

(2) keep a clock out. Start ON TIME. Watch the time. Rein people in to 5 min introduction (maybe with an introduction question).

(3) know how long the panel is and when it should end. Dragon panels are 1 hour, other cons 50 minutes.

(4) Stop 10 minutes early for audience questions (be prepared for none or to manage the audience – no more than one question per person until everyone has had a chance – for the long-winded “Thank you, but I see other hands.” (if a mike person isn’t walking around).

(5) Sit at one end of the panel so you can see all the panelists easily.

(6) Be aware you will pay more attention to the panelists closer to you. In other words, self-monitor for preference and time given to ALL panelists.

(7) If the GOH is on the panel, they are allowed to ramble – but don’t let them get boring. Remember you are to make everyone shine.

(8) If you got time, look over your panelists before hand to aim special questions at them. “I remember reading your book about superheroes and menopause, since we are talking fan reactions, what sort of response have you gotten specifically for that series.”

(9) Cut people off for the following reasons (a) ramble (reword then answer for brevity and move on, (b) being rude (panelists or audience), (c) interrupting (especially watch out for the quiet and younger panelists getting interrupted).

(10) do as little talking as you can – you are there to facilitate.

(11) draw out the shy, maybe by starting questions with them.

Q is for Quorum

Photo by Billy on Unsplash

For flashes, the quorum (minimum number of people needed for an official meeting) is two to explore more than navel-gazing introspective of a single character, but what happens when you go beyond that? How do you write a large cast? I recently took up the challenge when creating the Argumentative Law series.

The flash format doesn’t lend itself well to large casts. In a thousand words, you can explore two, maybe three, people interacting. I did TEN! Each person in the first flash, L is for Legality, had at least one line. The challenge was making sure each person had a reason to be there, a different opinion and goal. When possible, a different mannerism. Overall, that first flash is a scene, not a story. No one grows or changes, the “protagonist” really is the class as a whole, not one individual who undergoes the most change. A few of the characters were well-defined in my head – Lindsey, the firebrand; Breanna and Matthew, the couple headed to problems; John, supporter of the status quo; and the professor, Dr. Hawkins – who is based on my very first college teacher – first semester, first class. He left an impression on me, not all of it good, but he did demand the best from everyone and he cared enough to extract it. I would have preferred he didn’t use a hammer and pliers, but the man was unforgiving as the fire which shaped him.

With five characters clearly defined, the second flash had more elbow room; still, most characters were again limited to a single line, but through that line I discovered more about each of them.

The final flash, O is for Options, is actually two scenes, one is the class discussion and the other the internships. Between the three flashes, four scenes, and six thousand words, the characters had evolved into individuals with different backgrounds and goals. (Hey! – That is the average of a flash dealing with two to three characters. Three flashes fleshes out nine characters. Good to know the word to person ratio is consistent.)

Strangely two of the initial weakest characters ended up to be the most interesting to me. Maybe because they evolved organically instead of a pre-defined cutout like Lindsey and John. For the “story”, I would define Monica as the protagonist, if I work from the definition of the “person who undergoes the most change”. Though Breanna and Matthew, with their breakup, also had a lot of change, their change was external while Monica’s was internal. I also fell in love with Seth Goard; the initial lackadaisical gentleman, coasting through the course, was revealed to actually have a lot going on in his life. When he finally faced something that needed doing, he stood up for it. Of all the characters, Seth is the one I want to grab and drop off into a real narrative instead an exploration of writing skills.

I’m still not sure if I would describe the Argumentative Law series as a story. There is a a beginning, middle, and end – with the ending of handing out internships being the most clearly defined. We see the class grow as a whole from the teacher directing the conversation, with the first narrative turning point happening when the students (through Lindsey) demand equal treatment for all students, to the final session where the professor mostly stays out of the conversation except to keep them on topic. There is a sloppy bit (from a content editing consideration) where the third flash opens with Lindsey as a close-third person POV before we expand back out to the omniscient POV used throughout the rest of the series.

If the story was rewritten, I don’t know what POV I would go with. The omniscient puts a lot of distance between the readers and the action, keeping emotional involvement low. But who to go with? Lindsey, with her strong opinions, would be my first choice, but she is an unreliable narrator and the themes within the story, if polished from first draft flash format, are about the clarity of law. The juxtaposition between her opinions and exploring society through law could make interesting counterpoints, but I don’t know if I have the skill set to sharpen the edge between unreliable fog and magnification lens clarity.

I know I mentioned this specific to the first flash, but it also applies to the whole arc. In a weird way, with the exceptionally large cast, the class as a whole became the protagonist. During the story, they learned how to argue, they split into factions, and they developed a cause they wanted to fight for that crossed the factions.

Have you ever written a large cast scene or story where all the characters impact the story at some level? What writing skills did it need? Comment below.

Argumentative Law series

  1. L is for Legality (4/14/2024)
  2. M is for Monday (4/15/2024)
  3. O is for Options (4/17/2024)
  4. Editing Rant: Q is for Quorum (4/19/2024)
  5. Writing Exercise: Y is for Yoke (4/28/2024)

Editing Rant: H is for Humor Gone Wrong

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Editing Rant for a DNF book review


Ugh. Made it made it 4% into the book before giving up. (Famous science fiction author) may write good books, but this is not one of them. The title character is a whiner and the narrating (POV) character is a complainer and manipulator. I *think* the story is meant as a parody and to be humorous, but it is either slap-stick humor or … I don’t know what.

Gave up at “there are possibilities for the future. Perhaps even a new school!” … says a martial artist after his spine has been crushed. The humorous(?) statement is about developing a new school of fighting for paraplegics. … ha, ha?? Isn’t that a funny one-off joke? … why aren’t you laughing, reader?

By the time I embraced the concept of this book NEEDED to be a “do NOT finish” (and remember this is only 4% into the eBook), the VARIOUS slapstick-styled fights included permanently crippling a legbreaker (mentioned above), tearing the face off a law enforcement officer, removing an arm from one man and then beating four other people unconscious with it, and driving a mage insane. Nothing bloody or graphic; again these are slapstick fights. All the while during them the title character was whining about philosophy and the POV character was trying to get him to shut up by belittling him or bemoaning the fact of having to listen to said philosophy by breaking the fourth wall between the narrator and the reader.

So funny, not.


I know for some, the age of “political correctness” has gone too far. But remember, the best humor punches up, not down.

(Okay, I admit the tearing off an arm and beating other people with it COULD have been funny. I’ve seen similar things done in the humor-fantasy genre where I laughed hard, especially with zombies. And often it is with blood and all the graphic juices flying everywhere. This, though, was not one of those times where funny took off its shirt, let alone had a digit go flying and landing in a drink to give a person the finger for the hero(ine).)

(Did I see a smile there from the image of a zombie finger doing inappropriate things? See, how hard was that? Why couldn’t famous author pull it off? Not the finger, never pull a finger, that is a different gag.)

Don’t do bad humor.

Editing Rant: Para the Normal

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Editing Rant/Review for a DNF (did not finish) book I read.


If you are going to write a paranormal romance, remember to PARA the NORMAL. And RO the MANCE.

This book was barely paranormal. The paranormal was told, not shown. Basically the plot was a Christmas Romance Direct-to-TV-Movie.

We got the cute dog, we got the plucky friend, we’ve made cookies, we’ve been embarrassed in front of our potential male which he finds cute and he is already in love with us. I was going to say “distilled” Christmas Romance Movie but that means it has been concentrated, but this was just the normal watered-down stuff. In fact, I think it was even more watered-down than a 90-minute Movie (plus commercials).

Don’t get me wrong, I eat paranormal romances up normally. But when I read this, I was just not in the mood for romance so “sweet” it wasn’t even sweet. It didn’t do ANYTHING to make me fall in love with anyone. The “weird” and “cute” were so bland as to be tapioca pudding. Sometimes I want that type of pudding, but not in my paranormal romances. There I want something a little more spicy – some action, some magic worldbuilding, some strong romance – anything to add some “para” to the normal.

Not a “save the bunny from a dog” moment to make me like the main character.

Really?!? It’s a romance! I should not need a “Save the Cat” moment to identify with the romantic interest.

In addition, a big thing happened off-screen. Supposedly the couple was exposed to a love potion before everything began — and it seemed to have NO impact on their relationship. They were already going that direction. Why were we even talking about magic? The worldbuilding for this magic town had NO SPARKLE. So you go to a healer instead of a doctor? Big whoop. For the first date, they go to a NORMAL mini-golf situation.

Make me believe this is a magic town.

No Zing, No Sparkle, No Wonder.

No Wonder I didn’t finish. Needs better worldbuilding, better characters, and a better relationship.


Take away for writing – paranormal romance needs Magic. Make us believe not only in the magic of love, but just plain magic – shifter and vampire, witch and warlock. Spell it out for us.