A Sea of Red Ink

After the first edit nearly 50% of each page was covered in red ink. Although so much was re-written, it is definitely for the better.

After the first edit, nearly 50% of each page was covered in red ink. Although so much was re-written, it is definitely for the better. Here’s to editing round #2.


Hemingway On Training For Aspiring Writers

Hemingway when asked what the best training would be for an aspiring writer. His reply:

Good Ol' Hemingway“Let’s say that he should go out and hang himself because he finds that writing well is impossibly difficult. Then he should be cut down without mercy and forced by his own self to write as well as he can for the rest of his life. At least then he will have the story of the hanging to commence with.”

~Ernest Hemingway, 1954 Interview with George Plimpton

I find it undoubtedly true that it really is “impossibly difficult,” to write well. Mainly because there are so many different styles and voices when it comes to writing, doing it well is relative. Some folks may follow all the proper grammar rules to the letter, and may be awful writers because they have no voice or passion. While it may be the opposite for others, they could have outstanding stories and characters, but may be plagued by errors, misspelling, and improper story structure. So find your own style of writing and do it constantly, but get input, hone your craft and your style to make it your own.

A Format To Live By

Formatting is something that is highly important when it comes to your novel. Some folks begin with the format already set in their word processor, while others simply write until they feel finished and format all at the end. After first attempting to write in whichever format was “exciting,” at the time, I quickly realized that life becomes easier when you start writing in the appropriate format for manuscript submission, that way you don’t need to worry about it later on. First let’s go over some general, but important points for formatting your document.

  • 12 point font – This is the standard size font that is requested by nearly every publisher, editor, or agent for a manuscript.

  • Double Spaced – Double spacing your manuscript makes it 1) easy to read and to catch errors in spelling and grammar while reviewing your work. 2) This makes it easier for editors and publisher to add notes to your manuscript in between the lines themselves, rather than along the margins where things become cluttered.

  •  Courier Font – Courier is the font that, after quite a bit of research, is requested by a number of companies in the field of publishing. Unlike “Times New Roman,” this font evenly spaces out each and every letter, rather than push letters like i’s and f’s together. Courier gives a period or that i letter, the same amount of designated space as a w or an m. This gives you approximately ten characters per inch within your document.

  • 1 inch margins – One inch margins on all sides of the document is, again, recommended by publishers. This makes printing it easier once accepted.

  • Header: Name / Title / Pg. # – Every page, minus your title page, should have a header in the upper right hand corner of your document. This header accomplishes two things, first reminds the publisher of your name and title of the novel, secondly has the page number on it, so that when it’s strung across the publishers desk (because they’re so enthralled by it) they can reorganize it accordingly. DO NOT put a header on your title page, you will have your contact info and title on there already, no need to repeat yourself and irritate a publisher.

These things are all your basic formatting instructions for formatting your novel. While some of these things seems arbitrary, they all serve their purposes. One last thing in particular that is quite important, is that this puts approximately 250 words per page, which is what publisher will assume and this is how they will gauge your word count. So while your word document may say 80,000 words, they will more than likely take 250 x your 300 pages and pay you for 75,000 words rather than your 80,000. So, now your novel is ready for editing, printing, review and on par with what publishers are looking for! Keep an eye, because coming soon I’ll go over the proper format for your cover page as well so that you may submit your manuscript with the appropriate presentation.

Bursting At The Seams, With Creativity

The Black Ruins writing session, 33 total pages and finishing at the start of chapter 3.

The Black Ruins writing session, 33 total pages and finishing at the start of chapter 3.

Sometimes you get an unwarranted burst of creative energy that you simply can’t ignore.  That’s what happened to me last night. While I’ve been letting the dust of completing my first story settle before I go through and edit it myself, I had written a few pages for another idea I had for a great story. Last night however, I got a completely out of the blue, urge to open my computer and write a bit more for that story. So that’s exactly what I did, but for some reason I couldn’t stop. Hours passed by before I realized that I had written an additional 27 pages in one sitting.

It’s quite an achievement when previously it was difficult to get a dozen pages down in one day. Going from writing about three thousand words a sitting to blasting out seven thousand was down right inspirational to me, I can’t help but wonder how much I would have written had I started earlier than seven in the evening. But no use in wondering, and next time I get an urge like this, hopefully quite a bit more often, I’ll take full advantage of it and write another 30 pages in one sitting. At that rate a first draft may be done in no time, but I am focused and on track with The Drive Home, and I know that, that must come first. While in my spare time I may work on my other projects I still know where my priorities lie.

Let’s Put The Content On The Table

So, I’ve done it. I have finished my first draft of The Drive Home and it feels great. I’m going to ignore it for a week or two and allow a few close friends take a red ink pen to it. One of my closest friends has assured me that he would catch any and all spelling and grammar errors and that he was going to, “make it bleed red ink.”  I told him, bring it on. I love constructive criticism, as an actor in high school, if I wasn’t acting up to par with the directors vision, she would let me know. As much as I enjoyed arguing with her, I took all the criticism and applied it where necessary and I knew it only improved my work. After my editors go to town on my novel, I will take a red pen to it myself and rework, rewrite, and add/subtract whatever is necessary to make it outstanding. Until then I need to keep myself busy, and keep myself writing.

So I have a few posts lined up for the upcoming weeks and am looking forward to sharing more about myself, writing, and The Drive Home with all of you. So for my first post, I decided to upload a sample table of contents in which I made up short, clever titles that I felt summed up the chapters nicely. I thought it would be fun to show it to all of you so that it might spur your imagination about the story. Now, it is just a working table of contents, but looking back at it was a fun trip down memory lane. Enjoy!

The Drive Home


Sean Kelly


  1. The Big Fight

  2. A Mistake or Two

  3. Get Outta Dodge

  4. An Old Friend

  5. An Angel in Mt. Angel

  6. Rude Awakening

  7. A Nightmarish Dream

  8. The Best Jerky in Oregon

  9. A Romp in the Woods

  10. Hot on the Trail

  11. Fishing Hole

  12. Walla Walla Sweets

  13. Just Desserts in the Desert

  14. Father of Mine

  15. Up the Creek

  16. Knock, Knock

Can you guess as to what any of the chapters might be about?