Getting To Mr. Right: The Editing Process

A novel is never written alone. It really takes a village. One person in my village was Thelma Mariano who did both the content and line editing of my manuscript.

Content Editing in which Thelma provided help with structural issues, pointing out problems in the manuscript and making suggestions related to point of view, info dumps, pacing, showing versus telling, an imbalance of inner/outer conflict and lack of story tension, improper sequencing, flaws in character motivation and credibility as well as portrayal, areas needed (or containing unnecessary) description or sensory details, setting, plot holes, inconsistencies, discrepancies and implausibility’s, unnatural or unnecessary dialogue. Thelma also brainstormed solutions with me to fix content issues.

I particularly appreciated the brainstorming with Thelma. It made me feel that we were partners. At one point Thelma wrote:

I couldn’t sleep last night (must stop working in bed, my mind kept going)…but this morning I woke up with fresh ideas! I hope you’ll agree, because this would make the scene come alive, strengthen Felicity’s character AND ties in with the plot as well…

The work was to be accomplished in three parts (approximately one-third of the content in each part). Upon receipt of the text for Part 1,2, or 3, The Editor will review the manuscript and provide guidance to The client on Content as indicated above. The client will then incorporate these changes and send a revised version back to The Editor.

Working like this was very motivating for me. It provided me a concrete deadline and someone to bounce off ideas on.

At this point, The Editor will perform a Line Editing as described below and send the client an electronic version of the text, highlighting revised or added text.

Line Editing –revise the manuscript for better story flow, adding text where writing is choppy or incomplete as well as streamlining sentences; revising for clarity; eliminating awkwardness; improving word choices; removing redundancies and repetitions; correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation.

This entire process took about three very intensive weeks.

THELMA MARIANO is an author of women‘s contemporary fiction who is now offering her services as a freelance editor. You can find her at

Thank you Thelma for such a professional and thorough editing job and for elevating my novel.

Getting To Mr. Right is now available on Amazon.

How I Got Published: Thelma Mariano


Thelma Mariano began writing fiction in the confessions field, where she sold over 40 stories to women’s magazines (such as True Story, True Confessions and True Experience) put out by NYC publishers in the days of mass readership.

She also freelance edited at the corporate level of a major multinational and published dozens of articles in the self-development field, primarily on the Web. For ten years, she worked as a life coach and motivational speaker to help people overcome limiting beliefs and go after their dreams.

Fiction, though, is what makes her heart sing, both as editor and author.

She recently launched a website to offer her services as a Freelance Editor for writers of women’s contemporary fiction. She enjoys working with other writers to help them strengthen and improve their characterization, fix plot holes, and increase story tension. She values what wants to be expressed, whether working with another author or writing her own novels.


For Night Cries, I was offered representation by First Books, Inc., a Chicago-based literary agency, in 1994. They said they could sell it as “women’s mainstream” in the mass market but asked me to cut out two of my subplots and reduce the point-of-view characters from 4 to 2. At the time, I balked at the changes and put the book on the back burner. Twenty-three years later, I looked at the novel with fresh eyes and saw they were right! By then, the publishing world had gone through a sea change and self-publishing was a viable option. So I made the necessary revisions and put my novel in the marketplace.

For my second novel, ConneXions, I was represented by reputable literary agents in London as well as NYC. They told me that publishers wanted a focus on “the hunt for the serial killer” but I preferred to tell the story from the viewpoint of the potential victims he targeted.

It hasn’t been out on Amazon that long but has been selected as a Reader’s Favorite and given an excellent editorial review.

My third novel, SeaStruck, is a paranormal romance (mermaid story) that first came to me in a dream.

For many years, I sold my copyright to publishing companies who bought my stories and published them without a byline, because that was “the deal” in the confessions market. With self-publishing, I feel I am taking my power back by maintaining control over my own material.  I decide on the covers and the content and keep my work on the market as long as I wish.

You can visit Thelma here and here.

Meditation,Writing and Solstice

I used to meditate a lot. Go on meditation retreats; meditate in the morning for twenty minutes. In the evening for another twenty minutes. Then I don’t know why but I stopped meditating for some time.

Maybe my life got too busy. Maybe I was too much in a hurry to start the chaos of my day. Maybe I convinced myself that yoga practice was the same as meditation.

But two Fridays ago I attended a meditation session with Grace Bubeck. Grace is one of these women who instills calmness in you. She carries well her name.

Grace Bubeck, Retreat Organizer

We were a small group and started by saying what was on our minds that evening. I was thinking about my writing, going back to the crime novel after spending so many months on The Dating Club novel , which has no crime in it unless one metaphorically takes the abandonment of a daughter as a crime.

So, I started to say how I didn’t know how to approach this novel, A Simple Act of Love. It’s not as if I was starting from scratch. This is a novel I have been working on and off for years.  I didn’t know if I could pull it off. What I mean by that is that if I could write the kind of crime novel that floats in my imagination. The kind of novel that is about relationships and love and happens to have a crime in it.  A crime novel like The Silent Wife.

I wasn’t sure that I had what it took to transpose what was in my head to paper. Nor did I think I had the motivation to go back to it and edit it.

After everyone had said what was on their minds that evening, Grace rang her meditation bell and we fell into silence. Even after so many months away from meditation, I found it easy sitting for twenty minutes. In fact, it felt good. I was allowing myself to do nothing (although meditation is really not about doing nothing).

After the first twenty minutes, we talked again about our experience. Mine was mostly about how I had left meditation.

The second part of meditation was a Heart Meditation. Grace told us to let everything in. Everything is all part of who we are. Just to welcome whatever comes with an open heart.

At first, my meditation started on the rosy road. I was meditating about being confident and passionate about my writing. Yes, that’s what I needed. Passion.  Then fear snuck in. Telling me that maybe I couldn’t pull it off. That I might not have the talent. The stamina. You know.

So I did what Grace had instructed.  I expanded my heart and let the fear in and an insight occurred. I could write with fear and just that realization made the fear dissipate or turn into confidence, I’m not sure which. I knew that although there was still work that had to be done on my manuscript I’d done a lot of it.

Now I needed to take the scalpel to it. I needed to cut out the fluff. To cut out what I need to know but the readers don’t.

The next day I had this in my e-mail

When talking about their approaches to writing or scientific problems, they shared in many artists’ feelings that it’s easier to know what’s wrong with something than it is to know what would be right. Creative success doesn’t arrive as the proverbial flash of revelation, it uncovers itself gradually in the editing process – you start by constructing a deformed version of your ideal then identify what’s wrong with it and try out as many alternatives as necessary until, almost by a process of elimination, the most elegant form presents itself. Importantly, this is true of modes of thinking in general, not just of the arts, as Arkani-Hamed describes:

Creativity doesn’t require a virtuosity capable of instantaneous perfection, it needs a honed sensibility of imperfection so that you can work persistently at alternatives until that sense evaporates and what remains is worth an audience.

I wish you peace, light and  gentleness this solstice eve