Happy 2020, everyone! May this year bring you everything you need, including the ability to receive it.
I’ve set many goals and intentions for 2020, and one of them is to overhaul this blog. I’ve tried quite a few approaches over the past years, none of which really stuck, so new year, new way of doing things. Or organising things, rather.
The aim for 2020 is to have three posts a month: an interview with someone providing author services; a post with editing tips; and a more personal blogpost about all I’ve learned over the past month/period when it comes to writing, publishing, marketing, and so on.
We’re starting 2020 with an interview 🙂
Bethany Tucker lives in the Puget Sound Area, near Seattle in the U.S.A. Previously, she has lived and worked in China, South Korea, and Japan, as well as Ohio, California, and Chicago. She writes fantasy under two pen names and offers editing services to other creative professionals and hobbyists.
As a kid, she was the weird one reading grammar texts and studying character arcs with books written for adults. She draws inspiration from traveling, studying history, and her varied experiences among the communities she has been fortunate enough to meet. Her personal writing mantra is to leave figurative blood on the page and her readers sometimes hate or love her for what she makes them feel. If I can’t feel it, she says, then my readers won’t either.
The First Five Package
Hi, Bethany, welcome to my blog! Please, tell us more about the First Five Package?
The First Five Package is mini master class for the fiction writer who needs a boost to get them over the hump, build their confidence, or help them start learning how to polish a rough draft. The package examines the first 5,000 words of your manuscript, finished or Work in Progress, and assesses the Characters, Setting, Point of View, and the ‘Hook’, all while providing a line-by-line markup. You’ll receive a detailed letter giving feedback on all the above topics with additional advice and pointers for additional learning opportunities, such as books and online resources, all personalized for you, all for one flat fee of $150 USD.
Why did you create the First Five Package?
I created the First Five Package to help writers who are early on their journey, or perhaps looking to elevate their skills before going through a full edit. The idea grew out of discovering a gap in services offered to writers. About a year ago, I joined CritiqueMatch.com to become more active in the writing community. My message box was quickly overwhelmed by people who didn’t consider themselves ready for a full professional edit but wanted perspective and help. Some had been writing for years in private, without good assessment by someone who really understood fiction. After reading dozens of first chapters, it became clear to me that many of us writers were not prepared to go into full developmental edit. There were basics that needed to be addressed first.
As writers, it’s often hard to know where to start upgrading our skills when we’re on our own. It’s not our fault. Seeing the flaws in your own art is challenging! You wouldn’t expect a master violinist to learn in isolation, and neither should we expect it of ourselves.
The First Five Package is my answer to this need for that perspective, at a price tag and for a word count that is accessible early on in your writing journey. There’s no reason to pay several hundred or several thousand dollars to have a book developmentally edited if the basic building foundations of grammar or point of view are not yet solid. It’s also a good way of seeing if you’re ready to handle a full package of a developmental edit, or to just get a personalized mini master class specialized for yourself.
Writers who haven’t had a lot of input on their work and haven’t yet worked extensively with a professional fiction editor will benefit the most from the First Five Package. I say fiction editor specifically, as fiction writing can differ significantly from non-fiction writing or the writing we learn to do in school. This is really for those who want to get an idea about where they are in their craft, especially early on.
How is the First Five Package different from anything else out there? And what does it add?
The First Five Package is the only service of its kind that I know of, though I have to assume someone else has thought of this, in perhaps some other form. Most editors offer full reads of entire books and charge accordingly—and they should. Editing is serious work that requires a deep knowledge base.
The package is only the first five thousand words and I always charge the same price. No need to inquire on rates or go back and forth with samples. It’s simple and hassle free, perfect for someone who has a lot on their plate and just wants to get better at what they love doing—writing stories! But in a bite size chunk.
What is the best writing advice you were ever given?
The best writing advice I was ever given came from Michael Stackpole, author of the first X-Wing Series in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I think Disney has changed the name, but for me, it will forever be Star Wars. Full stop. Back in 2011-2012, I was listening to podcasts on writing while commuting between schools as an English teacher in Japan. Michael’s words were only some of many that rang in my ears, but I was absolutely arrested by this quote, ‘Write to the end’. He went on to explain that you don’t know how to fix something until you see its entire shape, so there’s no point in going back and editing before the end has been reached.
That day changed my writing career. I started finishing books again, something I hadn’t done since high school, when I had been more confident and less worried about perfection. Now I tell everyone, write to the end. Something magical happens when you have the entire book in front of you. Certain things you questioned before become clear. You don’t even need a beta reader or an editor for some of it!