Reality Check Written by Michael Lee Joshua

June 10, 2010
by Michael Lee Joshua

Third Place in the Advanced Division 

You’d think there was a target on my back. These writers call me, ask for my help, but they don’t mean it.

If all they want is a rubber stamp, they should show their book to their mom. Moms love everything their kids write.

I even get cover letters that say “All my friends say this is the best thing they’ve ever read!” “This is the next blockbuster!” “Everyone will want to read this!” “Surely Hollywood will make a movie out of this!”


Come now; let’s have a look at reality here.

Here’s what I see in your manuscript:

First, your character has no depth. Just because she ran away from home and lived on the street as a hooker for five years does not make her a hero. You don’t mention anything she does to try to move forward in her life until someone just picks her up and gives her everything she needs. What is this? Just another version of a misguided kid playing the victim, looking for a handout? Where is the angst? The introspection? Where does she figure out that she’s one more whining teenager thinking that the world owes her a living? What about the family? Where does she figure out that she is the problem, not the world around her?

Second, your grammar is terrible. Just so you know, there is no such word as conversate.

Third, you wrap up nothing when you finish this story. The ending is full of loose thoughts. The parents come back into the picture but no reconciliation is apparent. No apologies from anyone, no release of the pent-up anger, no recovery of what has been lost.


Before you send off a story to be edited, at least to me, make sure you have a story. Then put on your big girl panties – because I’m not your mommy. I’m going to be the one to tell you that what you have written is a bunch of drivel that no one would pay to read. I’m not here to re-write your book, I’m here to help polish it.

If you think that I return manuscripts that just get a great, big, fat “GREAT WORK” written across the top, not so. You’re not paying me to stroke your ego. If you are, well, you’ve wasted your money. I’m not a feel-good kind of editor. I’m the editor that takes a good work and edits it into something that hits the bestseller list. I’ve done it 46 times to date – if you want references, I have them. If you want compliments, call your friends.

As I pull the latest arrow from my back, I reach for the next manuscript waiting for my attention.


Oh, and I take one thing back, all moms don’t love everything their kids write. I showed my mom chapter one of my book and all she said was, “It doesn’t make sense.”

Even editors get their work reviewed.

Maybe you should send your book to her.

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