Editing Services

If you are already writing a book for publication, I applaud you. It's my theory, and also my experience, that writers who keep at it eventually get published.

I'm often asked about the next step, if anyone edits my books before I send them to an agent or publisher. The answer is yes, I do use a "first" editor. His name is Pete Mauser (yep, he's my son) and I think he's the best.

In addition to my books, he's worked for years as an editor for Microsoft and others. You can contact him at petemauser@yahoo.com. He'll guide you through the process.

MM: The McCord Method.

Writing is easier than you think!

The "McCord Method" below can be tailored for any age group, even adult.

(Teachers, please give Ms McCord credit if you use her methods.)

To write your own book, you DO NOT have to:

  • Be a great reader
  • Be a perfect speller
  • Be an artist
  • Be the smartest student in the class
  • Own a computer

You DO need to:

  • Love to tell stories
  • Want to write them

That's all! (well, almost ...)

Now, to get started.

Lesson One: Good books have great beginnings.

Go through the house and find the chapter books you like best. Or go to the library and choose a few. Read the first sentence or two in each book.

Does the first sentence make you want to read more? Probably, yes.

Examples: We'll call them books A, B and C and will use the same pretend books throughout these lessons.

  • Book A: Jake Cottontail darted up the trail, too afraid to look behind him.
  • Book B: I held my breath and peeked out the window. So it was true, we weren't alone on this planet!
  • Book C: If Kari had known what was going to happen, she never would have gone to the mall that day.

Now it's your turn: Write a first sentence (or two) that excites you.

You don't have to know the rest of the story yet.

If you were reading this book, would you want to read more?

Lesson Two: A good ending makes the reader feel complete, that nothing is missing.

Some endings are happy, others sad, and still others are surprising. But all endings happen because of the beginning, or in spite of it.

Your turn: How would you like the story you began in lesson one to end, if you were to write the whole thing? Write down an ending sentence (or two) that goes with your beginning.

Some examples:

  • Book A: Jake peered out of the hollow log, grateful that he had found a perfect place to hide.
  • Book B: As Astro waved goodbye, I realized no one else at my school could say they knew a Martian personally.
  • Book C: In the end, Kari was glad she had gone to the mall. How else would she have found a friend as good as Tracy?

Lesson Three: Writing the middle.

This is the hardest part for most people. For one thing, it's the longest part. But here's a way to make it easy:

Complications. List three things that keep your main character from getting from your beginning to your ending. (one complication will do for very short books). These complications should make you say, “Oh, no!” Middles of books are about problems.

Examples:

  • Book A: 1. Jake confronts a coyote. 2. Jake's first hiding place belongs to a snake. 3. Jake is too tired to run any more.
  • Book B: 1. No one believes what I saw. 2. The police stake out my house. 3. Astro does not trust me.
  • Book C: 1. Kari sees Tracy shoplift. 2. Kari lies to protect Tracy. 3. The police arrest both of them.

Whoopee! Now you know what your book is going to be about. You have an outline for a beginning, a middle and an ending. The rest is fun.

Whose eyes?

Imagine looking out through a set of eyes as your story unfolds. Are the eyes your own, or someone else's?

Your own: I ran down the street. “Wait for me,” I called.

Someone else's: Mary ran down the street. “Wait for me,” she yelled.

It doesn't matter who is telling your story, you or someone else, but it's best if you are consistent; that is, if you stick with the same person all the way through.

In samples A, B, and C, above, who is telling the story?

Add Details

Close your eyes and imagine that you are living inside your story. See yourself running through the woods or peeking out a window. Imagine walking through a mall. Do tree branches scratch you as you run through the trees? Is your heart pounding as you look through the window? What kinds of smells do you encounter in the mall food court?

Details will make your book seem real. Now, as you live your story in your mind, pay attention to those details and add them to your story. Details can answer questions such as: What color? How many? What size? What does it feel, taste or smell like? (Can you think of other questions?)

Examples: gray ocean, gigantic ant hill, sour orange, rotten smell, rough tree trunk.

Pat McCord wants to know: Were these lessons helpful? What could I add to make them better? Did you write a book using these lessons? Contact me and let me know.

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