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Behind The Fiction, Past
A Fiction Column
By Michael G'Francisco

Interview with Victory Crayne, Independent Editor/Writing Coach

Hey! Hey! To all of you out there in fiction land. This month's article is meant to "open a door" to those of you who might be seeking outside assistance to improve or polish your manuscripts.

This interview has a great deal of "nuts and bolts,' explaining how you should analyze your manuscript. It's not often a novice writer can get some FREE advise directly from an editor.

Victory has helped hundreds of writers in the past twelve years. So, take a few minutes to read what she has to say.

Michael G'Francisco: What is an independent editor?

Victory Crayne: An editor who works directly for the writer, not the publishing company.

Mike: Why should a writer use an independent editor?

Victory: They are very skilled at helping writers improve their manuscripts. A novice storyteller tends to make many mistakes while writing their first novel. An experienced editor can take a "so, so story" and turn it into a more finely tuned, interesting and sellable manuscript.

Today, due to the horrendous number of manuscript submissions forwarded to agents and publishers, they look for any excuse to "give it a pass," which often results in it being rejected. So, to avoid this happening, it's very important that a manuscript be professionally prepared and edited. This also means everything leading up to the manuscript, such as: the query or cover letter, book proposal, and synopsis.

With the present economy and the decline of book sales, agents and publishers are looking for manuscripts that don't require a great deal of time and money to get them to the marketplace.

Mike: Whom have you worked for as an editor?

Victory: I've been an editor for Behler Publications.

Mike: Wow! If my memory serves me correctly, they're members of the Publishing Marketing Association and Independent Book Publishers Association. They publish high quality literature and their books are available through Baker & Taylor and Brodart. Both companies are known worldwide for the quality products.

Mike: What other literary entities have you been associated with?

Victory: I'm the past president of the Southern California Writers Association and am the current president of the, a critique group for science fiction writers. I'm also a member of Spawn (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network).

Mike: Why do you think most writers write three or four novels before getting published?

Victory: Let me try to explain it this way: A novice writer gets an idea for a story, quite possibly from a real life experience, and rushes to write pages. In their haste, they don't take the time to realize that a book consists of a beginning, a middle and an end, and that careful study should go into developing the plot and characters of their story.

Thinking they have finished the Great American Novel, novice writers forward their rough work to agents or publishers. They wait and usually the results are a rejection. They often repeat the same process many times. After a while, it finally dawns on them that they need professional help.

Mike: Victory, are you also a writer?

Victory: Yes. I've written two novels.

Mike: Were they published?

Victory: No, not yet. But, I've written dozens of short stories, a few of which have won contests. I've also written articles on how to craft good fiction.

Mike: I understand that you are a guest speaker for writers' groups?

Victory: Yes. I have several dates pending for the coming year.

Mike: At these events, what is the most frequent question you get asked?

Victory: It's not always asked in the same way, but it comes down to "How can a writer capture a reader's attention in the first few pages and make them want to keep turning pages?"

Mike: And your answer is?

Victory: Start the story just before or during a crisis, which should present a hint of a conflict. Introduce the story's protagonist and begin using dialogue as soon as possible. What it boils down to is creating "tension." That's what the reader wants and that's what sells books.

Create a potent struggle between the protagonist and the antagonist. Don't be afraid to interject their strengths and weaknesses. Shape their characters carefully, sometimes allowing fear to be part of their physical make-up or personalities.

Don't be afraid to place the hero or heroine in peril. Remember, "tension" is the key to keeping a reader turning pages.

A lot of energy and time went into creating "your story." Be sure to place emphasis on where the story takes place and enter into the plot real problems that people face in their lives. In another words, try to get the reader to relate to something in the story. This helps to bind the reader to the story.

Mike: Last, but not least, what do you think is the biggest mistake novice writers make?

Victory: Ha! It basically comes down to punctuation and the proper use of the English language. These are two of the best reasons why a novice writer should get professional help right from the very beginning, or should I say, at the end of their first novel, before they submit it to an agent or publisher.

Mike: Well, this interview has been most interesting. I thank you for your candor and excellent advice.

Victory: If your readers have any questions, they can email me at If they visit my website, titled Victory Page for Fiction Writers, they'll find a wide range of resources for writers to go with more information about me and the services I can offer them.


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