by Lora Doncea

In every genre, editors can help authors enhance their writing to hook readers. Typically authors have their content established, substantive editors smooth it out and verify consistency, copy editors make it grammatically correct, and proofreaders catch all the sneaky errors. But today, that’s not enough. People are inundated with reading options, have little free time, and are often too stressed to concentrate. Editors can add color and zing to help an author snag their readers’ interest.

Try these tips:

  1. Replace common wording with vivid descriptions. 

[Fiction example]

Instead of: Three guys who looked like gangsters and were probably dangerous drove through the neighborhood in a dark sports car looking very suspicious.

How about: A dark sports car drove stealthily through the neighborhood, the streetlights flashing on three men slouched low, their shaved heads branded with sinister tattoos.

  1. Get to the point and make it clear.

[Instructional example]

Instead of: When you start designing a website, it’s important to think of how it will look to viewers because you want them to explore your site and it needs to be easy for them to go through.

How about: When designing a website, make sure it’s eye-catching, easy to navigate, and intrigues your viewers so they feel compelled to explore it.

  1. Avoid using the same words or phrases too many times.

[Autobiography example]

Instead of: I was so afraid that someone would find out my dad was so mean and drank so much that he beat us, so I stayed away from the other kids at school and didn’t make any friends. I was afraid of the teachers, too. I was afraid they’d see the humongous bruises on me. I was afraid they’d ask questions and then report me to CPS. I was afraid most of all they’d take me and my little brother away from my mom forever.

How about: I was always afraid that someone would discover that my drunk dad beat us. I kept my distance from the kids and teachers at school so no one would see the dark bruises I carefully hid and report me to CPS. I was terrified that my little brother and I might be snatched away from home and never see our mom again.

  1. Make lists short and easy to read.

[Magazine review]

Instead of: Some of the most incredible features of the log cabins in this quaint mountain resort are: they are all built to look like Lincoln Log cabins with the rounded log sidings and green tin roofs, they have large cozy fireplaces made of natural large river rocks, they have beautiful pine cathedral ceilings and pine wood floors, they are surrounded by large gorgeous pine trees and stunningly beautiful scenery, you can walk down secluded mountain trails that look amazing all year round, go for a horseback ride where you can catch glimpses of amazing wildlife, or go fishing all day in the peaceful lake nearby. 

How about: This quaint mountain resort features Lincoln Log cabins nestled in the majestic pines with river rock fireplaces, natural pine cathedral ceilings, leather furniture, and rustic decor. Just step outside to enjoy a variety of activities! Take a walk down beautiful mountain trails, go for a horseback ride to catch a glimpse of wild mustangs, or fish all day in the peaceful lake.

Bottom line: as editors, let’s not just correct basic errors, let’s help writers captivate their readers!

Lora thoroughly enjoys editing fiction and nonfiction books for Christian authors. She views editing as a ministry, partnering with authors to make their writing polished and successful. She also writes a blog of “Savvy Writer Tips” to help writers spot and fix common problems. Read them on her website: or on Facebook: SavvyWriterTips. Lora’s varied life experiences help her when editing. She’s been a recorded Christian musician, a computer and web programmer, a college teacher, and a Bible study leader. She spent years oil painting and loves photography. She recently exchanged life in the big city for a cabin in the mountains where she savors gorgeous scenery, diverse wildlife, and peaceful times with family and friends.