Editor / Book Doctor / Manuscript Consultant / Writing Coach
Ask Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan to
pages at a
Gain tools from Teresa with each installment of your manuscript.
Teresa edits mainstream fiction, women's fiction, thrillers, narrative non-fiction, memoirs,
children's and young-adults' fiction, and short stories. She loves feisty protagonists and quirky
Coach Teresa can help you identify themes and archetypes.
Leigh Anne Lindsey of SeaStorm Press says: "Yes, Teresa LeYung Ryan is one of the best writing and career coaches around today. She's a
whirlwind of activity and is clear and precise in her help. Wonderful woman." (Ms. Lindsey is epublisher,
"Coach Teresa, I love your editing skills. You not only correct and teach, but also you give me more ideas on the
story line. Because of you, the story has grown. You make me dig deeper and it brings more life to the story. Thank
you so very much!" E. H. (children's book author and ventriloquist)
"Teresa is committed to her clients and does a remarkable job of coaching and encouraging while wielding an
insightful red pen. Thanks Coach, for pushing my reporting skills !" D.H. (thriller)
Teresa, thanks for cheering me on!" J.O.A.
everything you suggested to me has all been right on! You're very insightful and inspiring." J.L.,
(memoir/cultural; short stories)
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Coach Teresa has clients from west coast to east coast in the
How to Make Your Manuscript
Look at Your Own Manuscript with an Editor’s Lens
Author, Manuscript Consultant and Writing Career
Since writing a story with the intent to engage the reader is so much like
meeting a stranger and wanting him/her to be interested in you, I will focus on how to make the first quarter of
your story a compelling read.
I love working with diligent writers who want to transform their manuscripts
into page-turners. However, there are things you can do before you give your work to an editor. Let me show you how
you can help yourself.
As an editor, the four biggest mistakes I encounter are manuscripts that are
weak in these elements:
- Planting hook(s) or story-question(s);
- Grounding the reader with the three Ws (Who? When? Where?);
- Showing (not telling) what the protagonist wants;
- Paying attention to language and rules
Let’s learn from the pros.
Planting Hook or Story-Question:
In The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, Maxine Hong
Kingston hooks us with the first line: “You must not tell anyone,” my mother said, “what I am about to tell you…”
Then, Ms. Kingston transitions into her story with: “Whenever she had to warn us about life, my mother told stories
that ran like this one . . .”
Grounding the Reader with the Three
In Woven of Water, while the story timeline spans from 1957 to 2005,
Californian author Luisa Adams brilliantly shows us who she was as a girl (not with a year-by-year narrative, but
with a single exquisite chapter). Because she grounded us with “who, when, where,” we eagerly follow as she takes
us into her enchanted world of a “cottage in the forest.”
Showing What the Protagonist Wants:
In The Other Mother, young Carol Schaefer wants to ask questions:
“Was there any way to keep my baby? Was there anyone who would help me find a way to do that?”
Paying Attention to Language and
Read the first five pages of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and you
will see how this wordsmith plays with language and rules. (You can “bend” the rules to create flow, but you must
not ignore them.)
Sentences Deserve Your Attention:
Nina Amir’s post on her blog http://writenonfictioninnovember.wordpress.com/2007/11/ is a must-read.
Remember Groucho Marx’s line “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas…”?
That sentence got a lot of laughs. But, what if you didn’t want to be funny (ambiguous in this case)?
How would you rewrite these poorly constructed sentences?
- He likes to fish near the Farallon Islands and they jump when they’re
hungry at dawn or dusk.
- She insists on knowing when I come home and leave, not to be nosy, but
for safety reasons.
- Being cautious as not to step on the dog’s tail, the children tip-toed
away from him while sleeping.
- My husband still in bed snoring, I have always enjoyed rising before dawn
and I eat my toast and drink my green tea on the terrace.
To improve your sentence structure and other skills, I recommend these
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk,
Jr. and E.B. White
- Woe is I: Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain
English by Patricia T. O’Conner
- In all four stories (The Woman Warrior, Woven of Water,
The Other Mother, Angela’s Ashes), the authors present memorable experiences by employing
authentic details, unusual story-worlds though real, and poetic language. You want to do the same for your
- Also, these stories have another vital component-all four plotlines have
what Martha Alderson, author of Blockbuster Plots, Pure and Simple, calls “Cause and Effect” linked
scenes. Another must-read blog: Plot Whisperer
- When you’re writing non-fiction and do not have the luxury of rearranging
the sequence of events to create a page-turning plotline, you can engage the reader by using concise
expositions to leap over blocks of time in order to focus on the core themes and fast-forward the story. A
helpful website: http://www.memoriesandmemoirs.com
- You the author must show the reader what the protagonist wants, even if
the protagonist doesn’t know at first.
- We don’t have to “like” a protagonist, but, we do need to connect with
him/her on an emotional level.
In the fiercely competitive arena of the publishing world, how does one stand
out in a crowd? Building relationships is one key to success in this business. Another key is to know how to
translate the themes from your life to your writing and articulate those themes as community concerns. I want to
see all hardworking writers realize their dreams.
My best wishes to you!
Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan
Coach Teresa says: “Reach out, not stress out, when pursuing your dreams!”
Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22
Days: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW
$9.81 for ebook; $12.96 for print edition
Love Made of Heart inspiring adult children of mentally ill parents
to speak openly about the stigmas and find resources for their families.
As a manuscript consultant, Teresa LeYung-Ryan loves helping writers identify their themes and archetypes.
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/teresaleyung
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