Wondering how to write evocative descriptions that don’t drag on and weigh down your prose? Remember to use the five senses and choose one or two memorable details, rather than a laundry list of general information.
For example, when describing a person, instead of saying your male hero is “average height, with a slim build and brown hair,” (forgettable) say, “my head barely reached his shoulder, he smelled strongly of cinnamon, and his hair looked as if he’d run his hands through it many times already.” (Memorable).
The same is true of setting description as well. Try “green humps of hills like the earth’s warty skin gave way to lush grasses that whispered gossip in the breeze” or “the apothecary’s shop didn’t believe in sunshine and reeked of cat mint and witch hazel.”
As a rule of thumb, remember that specific details bring a story to life, while generic information makes your story forgettable.
This writing tip is brought to you by Katie Phillips, who runs an editing and coaching business (www.katiephillipscreative.com) that helps women authors gain clarity and confidence in their manuscripts, writing business, and personal brand. We’ve brought her here today to tell us a little more about some of the services she offers, as well as let you know about a couple Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals she’s offering!
SP: Katie, so glad to have you today! Happy Thanksgiving! In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to start this interview off a little differently. Let’s play the grateful game! I’ll go first. I’m thankful for cozy sweaters, writer friends, pine cones, fluffy dogs and coffee. What about you?
I’m super grateful for my critique partners and longtime friends, who’ve encouraged me and kept me on track with my dreams, as well as my husband for being my blanket fort buddy and supporting me from the very beginning. I’m also thankful for chai lattes and snuggly blankets and my happy houseplant collection that adds some life to my beige apartment. 😊
SP: For those of us in a Thanksgiving food coma and looking to distract ourselves from our belly aches, tell us a little about your business! Please, anything to distract us! 😉 But seriously, what has your writing journey been like and how did your business come about?
I went to a Christian writer’s conference at the ripe old age of 19, which was when I first realized writing could be a career. I completed a mentorship program with author DiAnn Mills and agent Les Stobbe, earned my degree in journalism, and worked for a newspaper for two years before moving to England and doing communications for a global non-profit. During this time, I also helped co-found indie publisher Crosshair Press (now merged with Uncommon Universes) and was the primary editor for their titles, including Realm Award finalist, New Name, by A.C. Williams. I launched my freelance editing business in January 2016, and slowly added to my client list until I went full-time as a developmental editor and coach a couple years ago. I launched my first five-month author business and branding course, Own Your Story, which has gone on to be tremendously successful. This year has been particularly special, as one of my first editing and OYS clients won the Fantasy and Book of the Year categories at the Realm Awards, and three other clients I’ve worked with for several years also signed multi-book deals with publishers.
SP: Shifting gears a little bit, can you tell us more about your business and how you help writers toward their goal of becoming published authors?
Sure! I’m a bit different from many editors in that I specialize in developmental work for women writing sci-fi and fantasy, and I’m very personal and hands-on, providing encouragement and support at every stage of the process. I also pair my editing with intensive coaching in branding and business, helping women authors position their novels in the market and build a platform of dedicated fans.
On a practical level, I book out my developmental editing schedule every year and also do writing coaching sessions and manuscript consults, which includes a 30-minute coaching call with feedback on the client’s novel outline and first three pages. I also run the Own Your Story course twice a year and do branding and social media coaching sessions as well.
SP: Awesome! Are there any exciting new offerings or developments that you have coming up?
I actually just brought on a fantastic associate editor, Lauren Hildebrand, to take over my line edits, so I’m able to take on a few more clients under my oversight. And I’m extremely excited to be launching my new mentorship program for editors and writing coaches, the Editor Initiative, focused on booking clients and earning consistent income. I learned so much the hard way, as my style of editing and coaching didn’t really exist when I was trying to start my business, so I can’t wait to share the practical strategies I’ve learned with other aspiring editors and coaches.
SP: For those of us already looking forward to Black Friday deals, and our stomachs no longer exploding with pie, do you have any special deals you can share with us?
Absolutely! I’m offering a substantial discount on line edits with my associate editor, Lauren, for $0.02/wd. She only has four editing slots left, though, so these will go super fast! (Contact me at email@example.com to book). She’s worked as an editor with Splickety Magazine, Havok Publishing, and Crosshair Press, as well as several freelance projects.
I’m also opening pre-enrollment bonuses for my editor mentorship course on Cyber Monday only, with the opportunity to put down a $200 deposit to save a seat (only four left!). This program includes fillable workbooks, instructional videos, and monthly group Q&A coaching calls. Modules include 1) Your Business Plan, 2) Communicating Your Brand, 3) Connecting with Clients, 4) Your Legal, Profitable Business and 5) Caring for clients.
SP: Thanks so much for your time today! Where can we go to learn more about the services you offer and/or claim or Black Friday offer?
My pleasure! Make sure you’re signed up for my mailing list, which you can do by visiting my website (www.katiephillipscreative.com) and clicking on the announcement bar at the top of the page. You’ll also receive my free Discover Your Author Brand workbook when you sign up! If you’re interested in booking an editing slot with Lauren for 2021, simply contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to hear more about my writing and business journey, you can follow me on Instagram (www.instagram.com/katiepcreative) and check out my two-part video series on my IGTV. You can also binge-watch my Tips & Tidbits videos, which are full of writing life and branding advice for authors.
Thank you so much for having me! It’s been a pleasure sharing about my journey.
Katie Phillips is a developmental editor, as well as a writing, branding, and business coach for women authors of sci-fi and fantasy looking to take their career to the next level. Her clients include multiple award winners and finalists, and many have gone on to sign book deals, find agents, and profitably self-publish. She has a BA in Journalism and worked over ten years as an editor for newspapers and in non-profit communications. She helped found indie publishing house Crosshair Press (now Uncommon Universes), where she was the primary editor, and studied writing under agent Les Stobbe and author DiAnn Mills. She was an AWSA Editor of the Year finalist and studied business and branding strategies under well-known coach Michelle Knight. She lives with her husband and houseplant collection in blustery Kansas, and is slightly obsessed with sea turtles, strawberries, and sushi.