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Guest post: Yanking the door open

What makes an editor know on the first page whether she will like the story? Look over your work and answer the following questions.

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Guest post: Mining a writing tip from Mandy Patinkin

Editor’s Note: During a conversation thread on author R.J. Keller‘s Facebook timeline, I was intrigued by fellow writer April Hamilton‘s take on a Youtube video featuring a few acting tips from Mandy Patinkin.  He’s one of my all-time favorite actors, so I was hooked already, and I loved hearing him speak so passionately. But when April started relating his tips to writing, I knew she was on to something, and I asked her to write a guest post. Below is her text (and then the video.).   Writing help can come from the most unlikely sources. I recently saw a video where actor and Broadway star Mandy Patinkin was being interviewed about his experiences with The Princess Bride film.  At one point in the interview, he talks about how, as an actor, he learned to boil down every scene he played to one word or a single sentence and use that as his grounding, or guiding principle for performing the scene. It occurred to me that writers can do the same thing when writing or editing scenes: distill the scene down to a single word or phrase that conveys the point of the scene (e.g., a specific action, a feeling, an incident that must occur, a reveal, etc.) and use that as a yardstick and delimiter. In other words, if the point of a given scene is to convey a character’s insecurity about something, then the word is “insecurity,” and as you write or edit, you can use that as a guidepost for what does or doesn’t need to be in the scene / does or doesn’t serve the point of the scene. This could work very well to help keep a scene on-point, and might save a writer from having to cut a lot of extraneous material during the editing phase if it’s employed during the drafting phase. This tip can also prevent or cure the dreaded “sagging scene syndrome” — in which a scene just seems to lose its focus or pace partway through, but the writer can’t tell precisely where it went wrong. I’d suggest that any writer who struggles with writing “tight” give this method a try. It may turn out to be the quick and (relatively) easy fix you’ve been looking for! April L. Hamilton is an author and the founder and Editor in Chief of, as well as being Editor in Chief of Kindle Fire on Kindle Nation Daily and Digital Media... read more