Essentials of a Writer’s Library – Part II – Editing


As promised, this is the second in my ‘Writer’s Library’ series.

This segment is harder for me, because I hate editing with the passion of a kid having to eat asparagus. But, as Patricia Fuller said,

‘Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.’

So I do it. And if I’m doing it, I’m doing it well. The following are my top 3 books on editing on MY bookshelf. Please share yours in the comments!

This book released a week ago, and it rose to the top of my list as soon as I read it. Tiffany Yates Martin is an amazing editor, and shares her brilliance in this book. Editing, to me, is dry as crematorium dust, but she brings it alive, and actually shows you how to look objectively at the big things (character, plot, etc). I highly recommend.Here’s the relevant part of the blurb:

‘Developmental editor Tiffany Yates Martin has spent her career in the publishing industry honing practical, actionable techniques to help authors evaluate how well their story is working, where it might not be, and how to fix it.With a clear, accessible, user-friendly approach, she leads writers through every step of deepening and elevating their own work, as well as how to approach the edit and develop their “editor brain,” and how to solicit and process feedback. Intuitive Editing doesn’t offer one-size-fits-all advice or rigid writing “rules”; instead it helps authors discover what works for their story and their style—to find the best version of their vision.’



The next isn’t a book. But it’s still the best editing money you’ll ever spend. I’ve said it here before: Margie Lawson. Her Lawson Writer’s Academy  is the best writing classes out there. I’d recommend starting with her class on Deep Editing.  If there’s not currently a class offered, there’s a lecture packet that is the equivalent of a college coursework. Best thing I ever did with my writing budget, hands down.



My last offering is one you may not have heard of – and it’s not just another thesaurus. I’ve been known to spend twenty minutes looking for the exact right word that gives the perfect nuance I’m looking for in a scene. This helps me find it faster.

Here’s the relevant part of the blurb:

‘Fiction is action. Activate is an author’s thesaurus of dramatic possibilities that will galvanize your characterization and dramatization. Verbalizing any narrative requires specific juicy language with the vibrancy readers crave. This handy writing reference focuses on language’s powerhouse: VERBS, featuring 5,300 potent options sorted into three useful contexts.
~ ALPHABETICAL: an A-Z catalog of actions and tactics, including antonyms for each to supercharge character chemistry.
~ CATEGORICAL: verbal options especially suited for the twelve most popular book types and their tropes.
~ DIRECTIONAL: sections sorting verbs by vibe to help you shape the emotional flow of a story for maximum mojo.
…and for anyone new to verbalizing a story, a quick intro and overview to kickstart your process.’

Your turn. Share your favorite editing tools in the comments!


  1. Beverly Turner on May 11, 2020 at 11:17 am

    I’m with you when it comes to editing/revising. Know it’s something that has to be done so I grit my teeth and do it. Kinda like a mammogram.

    Just got my copy of ‘Intuitive Editing’ on Saturday. So far, I am impressed that she has taken something that makes me want to pull my hair out and turned it into something everybody can read, enjoy and best of all, use.

    I had never heard of ‘Activate’. But when I read your description, I immediately went to Amazon looking for it. And have now added it to my TBP (to be purchased) list. Thanks for giving us clues on what books work for you.

    • Laura Drake on May 11, 2020 at 11:42 am

      Hope they’re as helpful to you as they were for me, Beverly!

Leave a Comment