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Coming Soon—The Magic of Fiction

August 1, 2015 by Fiction Editor Beth Hill
last modified August 1, 2015


The Magic of Fiction


I’m pleased to announce that The Magic of Fiction: Crafting Words into Story is coming soon.

This book has been three years in the making and has seen many changes since the early days, but I trust that it will prove an invaluable resource for both writers and editors.

The Magic of Fiction contains updated versions of several Editor’s Blog favorites, including the popular “Punctuation in Dialogue” (viewed more than a quarter of a million times) and a vastly expanded editing checklist.

This comprehensive fiction handbook includes:

~  how-tos of both writing and editing for the major fiction elements:

Affirming Point of View

Shaping Characters

Inspecting Plot

Showcasing the Setting

Crafting Conflict

and more

~  how-tos for major sections of story text:

Significant Introductions

Endings that Rock

Verify the Presence of Scenes

and more

~  suggestions for what to look for as you edit

~  fixes for common writing mistakes

~  suggestions for editing for the reader

~  tips about genre conventions

~  tips for word choices

~  approaches to rewrites and edits

~  questions and more questions to help you zero in on weak areas

~  suggestions for strengthening big-picture elements as well as detail areas

~  checklists for editing and proofreading

~  easy-to-understand examples

and much more to help you write, rewrite, and edit.

The arrangement of material allows you to focus on individual fiction elements or different aspects of the writing and editing processes without having to read the book from front to back.

Whether you plan to self-publish and self-edit your own work or want to create the best possible manuscript for submission to agents and publishers, The Magic of Fiction will be helpful.



The first version to be released will be a PDF.

Pros of a PDF—

It’s searchable; any word or phrase is easy to find.

You can work on your manuscript with the PDF open on the same computer. Consider it an editor you can consult as you edit and work through problem areas.

You can print pages as often as you need them, especially useful for the edit and proofing checklists.

If you want to collect chapters or sections (or even the full book) into a notebook, you can; margins are wide enough for hole punching.

A PDF can be used on a variety of computers/devices, including tablets. (An app might be required to improve the reading experience for some devices.)

Using portable computers and devices, you can carry the book with you.

You can zoom in and out to adjust page size, yet the font is sufficiently large enough for an easy read.

As with a print book, navigation is easy.

Notes and highlights can be added to PDFs in OneNote. (I’m not sure which other programs allow changes to PDFs.)


Softcover Print Book

A softcover book will be available in the near future.

Pros of a print book—

You can make notes and highlight text on the page.

You can carry it with you.

Searching for major topics and indexed words is easy.

You get to touch the pages.



While I am considering an e-book version, I recognize that the e-book format isn’t the best option for nonfiction books with their many style considerations. If The Magic of Fiction can be formatted well for an e-book and navigation isn’t burdensome, you’ll find an e-book version at about the same time the print version becomes available. Otherwise, I’ll wait until someone develops a better way to format nonfiction for e-readers.

Cons of e-book reference books—

Formatting isn’t optimum for a reference book’s needs.

Navigation, even going back to an earlier page, can be an annoyance. Searching is difficult as well.


When the PDF is ready, you, the readers at The Editor’s Blog, will be the first to know. I’m excited to bring The Magic of Fiction to print.



Tags: ,     Posted in: Books, How to

38 Responses to “Coming Soon—The Magic of Fiction”

  1. Lamb says:

    I can’t wait to read this :)

  2. YES! I’m so thrilled to hear this news! Your blog is the number one source I recommend to my authors as part of my editing feedback. There are a lot of books I also like and recommend for honing craft in one area or another, but your book will no doubt be the new source that trumps them all.

    Congrats on this accomplishment. And thank you!

  3. Congratulations Beth. I look forward to reading your book. ~Michael

  4. Elaine says:

    Beth! I can’t wait! I need this NOW….

  5. maya says:

    I am really looking forward to it! I read a few ‘how to’ writing and editing books and while most were helpful, even if with just a couple of really important points, they weren’t user friendly enough to be referred to during writing process.

  6. Mark Schultz says:

    I am interested in this book also, can’t wait to see it!

  7. Debra says:

    This sounds wonderful. Your editing blog has been my go to for answers I can trust.

  8. Martha says:

    Congrats! This will become my go-to book!

  9. clara says:

    I’m looking forward to it!

  10. Iza trapani says:

    Ooh, I’m so excited about this! Your posts are amazing!

  11. Iza, I hope it meets or exceeds your expectations. And thank you.

  12. Hajo says:

    Just wanted to tick “like a lot” and waiting…

  13. Pat Garcia says:

    I really need this pdf because I’m editing my novel right now and have run up against a snare that I’m not quite sure of. So, I’m looking forward to its release.

    • Pat, I think I’ve got it ready for a release tomorrow. But do you have a question I could try to answer for you?

      • Pat Garcia says:

        Hi Beth,
        Thanks for getting back to me, and I apologize for not getting back to you immediately, but I live in Europe ( 6 hours ahead of you) and when your email came in, I had prepared to go to sleep after a long day of writing and wracking my brain. O

        I have 2 questions that I hope you can help me with.

        1. Within a scene, can I present more than one person’s viewpoint, if I keep the viewpoints separate within the scene. I keep hearing one scene, one viewpoint, but that doesn’t work for me. If a scene is one chapter, can I present it from both people’s point of view, separating them with stars or a straight line.

        2. Backstory: I have started my backstory out with dialogue. It is one woman talking aloud to a newborn baby, who is one of the main characters in my story. The character is reminiscing about his birth and the conditions that he had to live through. I started with his mother expressing her hate that he was born. Then, I go through his childhood that I paced too quickly and bring him into manhood. Can I use dialogue as a tool to reveal this man’s past?

        I hope my questions make sense. So, now I’ll go get my book.

        • Good questions, Pat. Switching viewpoint characters and using back story effectively are topics that come up a lot.

          1. You can definitely separate the two viewpoints with your stars or line. In a print book this is often accomplished through a line space, but in manuscripts you include the visual break.

          But this actually is a scene break. You’re showing readers that something has changed. A scene break often indicates a change in place or time, but a change in viewpoint character can also be reflected by a scene break. This is a legitimate way to change the viewpoint character. Just make sure that readers understand right away that a new character is lending his or her viewpoint to the story.

          2. You can use such a device to convey back story, but you don’t want to stop the current story to delve into the past for too long. A character talking or thinking about the past can quickly turn into an info dump. See if you can share only a detail or two at a time and save the rest for another time.

          And make sure the character has a reason to reminiscence. What prompted his thoughts about the past? Give him a connection from his present to something in the past.

          You probably don’t want him thinking about his whole life—focus on one moment. Him overhearing his mother, with you putting her words into dialogue, can work. But only if he actually heard and remembered. His viewpoint scenes can’t report what he doesn’t actually remember. If he’s reporting details from his past, he has to know those details.

          Now, if you opened every chapter with a short paragraph with something from his past, something told via an omniscient narrator, that would be one way to get around him having to know the details of what happened to him. But that would be a stylistic device that wouldn’t work with a lot of fiction. It could work for some novels, but for most, it would be kind of like cheating. If ninety percent of your novel is from the viewpoint of one or two characters and you limit yourself to what they know, then adding this kind of info, information presented via an omniscient narrator, doesn’t fit the style of the rest of the story.

          I hope I got at your primary concern. If not, let me know.

  14. Alex Hurst says:

    Can not wait! It looks awesome!! 😀 My wallet is standing by. :)

  15. darkocean says:

    Can it be bought with a visa gift card? (I don’t have a credit card nor a Paypal account.)

    • Darkocean, yes, apparently you can pay with prepaid gift cards that carry the VISA, Mastercard, Discover Card, and American Express logos on them. You can do this anywhere PayPal is accepted as a payment.