Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Okay, Julie here, and I don't know about you, but I get just a wee bit nervous when I see the word "editor" in the title of a blog. I mean, let's face it -- most of the time it's not a lot of fun having our "babies" critiqued or edited, often leaving us bloodier than the very pages scribbled with red ink. So when I read Pepper Basham's blog, "The Soul's Internal Editor" a while back, I knew it was something I wanted to share with Seekerville. Because editors are important -- both in our writing and in our lives!

That said, please welcome Pepper D. Basham, one of our spunkiest and most supportive Seeker friends and commenters. Pepper is a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, mom of five, pastor's wife, university instructor in Communicative Disorders and writes a fabulous blog that you really need to check out -- Faith and Fiction on Fire. When she's not sleeping, she's creating fictional worlds where good defeats evil, laughter reigns, and adventures grow faith. She won the Award of Excellence in Christian Literature at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and was a finalist in the Golden Rose in 2009. Her current writing motto is "Write in the moment, you're not promised the next ten minutes without someone 'needing' you." Her long-term goal, besides getting published someday, is to fulfill her mother's greatest dream: Get her PhD so she can be called Dr. Pepper.

Whew! When it comes to Pepper Basham, she fits the Dr. Pepper slogan to a T -- "There's Just More To It!" Without further ado, I give you, "Dr. Pepper" ...

The Soul's Internal Editor

A little over a month ago I hired someone to do a line-edit on my work-in-progress, The Thornbearer. It’s always a bit unnerving to become vulnerable to someone else’s critique, offering my infant-manuscript to be sliced, diced, and redressed (just kidding, actually she was very kind).

But the truth still remains. I paid her to edit my work. I paid her to provide constructive criticism. I paid her to point out my weaknesses. (I can think of a few people who do all those things on a regular basis and don’t get paid one cent. You know who you are). :)

Did her corrections sting?

Sure, especially since I thought my writing was pretty near perfection.

Did I want to throw my work in the trashcan?

Momentarily, because of the overwhelming task of fixing it and feeling like I’d NEVER get things right – but then I swallowed down my orange-sized pride and dug the manuscript out of the rubbish pile.

Did I want to ignore it?

Yes, and actually I did for a little while, but chocolate made everything better.

Did I mention I paid for this?

The editor was encouraging too. Shared my strengths as well as my weaknesses. Told me that it’s a good story with great potential.

She’s a good editor, to the point, but in a kind way. I appreciate that. She didn’t cut any corners, sugarcoat my weaknesses, or try and smooth over the rough edges. How would I improve as a writer if she did that? She was only doing her job, and the things she suggested – I NEEDED to hear.

If I choose not to listen to valuable instruction, I’ll refuse to grow as a writer….
and as a person.

It’s a lot like the Holy Spirit.

Until Christ comes to live in our hearts, there is no editor of our souls. We choose what’s right in our own eyes. We write our own life-scenes and hope for the best.

But then the Holy Spirit shows up. The soul’s Internal Editor. He’s consistent, faithful, honest, and waiting with His metaphorical pen to right the wrongs of our heart’s story.

The warmth of His comfort wraps around us in our trials, the strength of His assurance spurs us forward into the next day, the faithfulness of His love encourages us to be honest and to run to the Father with our soiled pages of life.

Does His correction sting?

Sometimes it does, especially when we don’t want to change our ways or we are particularly guilty. After all, we do think we’re pretty perfect. :)

Do we ever want to throw in the towel and say, “I can’t do this?”

Yep, but it’s all about His faithfulness – not ours. He holds us, He helps us, and He’s the one who provides the pen for us to rewrite the attitudes of our hearts. We WILL fail, but we never fall so far He cannot pull us out of the rubbish bin and into His embrace. In all truth, it’s not about us, it’s about Him.

Do we ever want to ignore Him?

Um…duh! Who wants to hear criticism? But He’s persistent and keeps reminding us of the stories He wants to write with our lives, stories far beyond what we could ever imagine.
In fact, our stories have already been edited in full. And the cost?

Paid for by Jesus.

He took our mutilated, ripped, and filthy rough draft and gave us His finished copy instead. He put OUR names in His book. As the Holy Spirit continues to edit our lives, the pages of our stories have already been cleaned up and placed within the Book of Life.

It is finished.

And it’s a BEST SELLER, all because of Jesus.

So today, as you share in this wonderful place called Seekerville, answer two questions:

1. What part of your writing requires the most editing?
2. What part of your heart requires the most editing?

In writing? I struggle with too many adjectives…well, probably too many words in particular. I can’t seem to write a book that’s less than 100,000 words I’ve also realized, through this edit, that I wasn’t getting into deep POV.

For me, God has to remind me of His control, when all seems out of control. When I don’t get MY time, or I feel misunderstood or not appreciated, He has to bring his Holy Spirit pen into my heart and scribble away at my anger and selfishness. He reminds me that He always sees what no one else sees, and He’s making note of it in the Book of Ages. So, the BIG story of my life is being written by scenes and chapters that HE sees, steps of growth in the tiny details of everyday.

So…for editing of the soul, it takes Jesus.

For editing of our writing, it takes other people. More knowledgeable people.

--> Let me give you a list of some befores and afters from some the edited manuscript to make my writing point.
Concise – definition – expressing or covering much in few words; brief in form, but comprehensive in scope.
Her breath tripped on a gasp and the sounds around her faded to silence. A chill trembled through her like frigid wind on wet flesh, grappling air into an icy knot lodged in the center of her chest. Here? Of all places?
As someone said recently, my love of words is obvious, “which is a nice way of saying AX some of them.” (You know who you are ;-) To increase the punch of these sentences, what if I just took out a few extraneous words.
Her breath tripped on a gasp and sounds around her faded to silence. A chill trembled through her like frigid wind on wet flesh. Michael? Here?
Here’s another – a bit longer.
She cleared her throat and bent to retrieve one of her small bags from the pier. “Did Grandmama pay for your ticket?”
His smile faded and he rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand, a slight hint of pink sliding onto his cheeks. “I offered to pay for it, but— ”
Ashleigh’s laugh burst out of her so unexpectedly she shocked herself. “Oh dear, she was desperate.”
“I haven’t heard your laugh in a while.” Sam’s voice slid to a softer tone, coaxing her closer. “I’ve missed it.”
Something cautious and hard inside her chest melted under the compassion in his gaze. She wanted to trust him completely, anchor her faith in the kindness of another man, drown in the friendship he offered within his sun-soaked blue eyes, but her spirit wavered. Memories suffocated hope, reminding her of whom she was…and who betrays. Men. Men like Michael? Or her father?
Okay, I like the last paragraph and just put it in there for fun, but there are some good ‘trimming’ opportunities in the first few sentences. For example, his smile faded and he rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand, a slight hint of pink sliding onto his cheeks.

An easy way to tighten this would be to take out the phrase ‘with his free hand’ (duh) and the word ‘slight’, since ‘slight hint’ is redundant. So, is this better?

His smile faded and he rubbed the back of his neck, a hint of pink sliding onto his cheeks.
Next is another one of my problems ;-) Over the top emotions. (Julie, I hope you’ll cheer me on here). For example in the phrase above Ashleigh’s laugh burst out of her so unexpectedly she shocked herself. “She laughed in surprise” or even something as simple as “She laughed” might suffice. The emotion is still there, but more concise – to get on to the better stuff ;-)

One more?

Does it move the story forward?
It’s easy for me to want to put cute stuff into a story, an extra scene perhaps, just because I’m so doggone in love with my characters or plot. I CONSTANTLY have to ask myself if a scene, or even sentence, ‘moves the story along’. I’m sure I’ll still have plenty of sentences that just take up space, but I’ll have fewer of them than if I never asked myself the question.
For example, I tend to throw ten actions into one sentence, something my characters might never physically master, but even if they could it detracts from the story.
“His mouth slackened and he dropped his hold on her arm, brows drawn into a tight ‘v’.”

Goodness gracious! Leave something to the imagination, will ya, Pepper.
To tighten and keep the action moving forward, I need to be more concise. To the point. We’re not talking, bland.

Here’s a quote I’ve started keeping near my computer: One GREAT word is better than two good ones.
Sometimes we have to use those good ones, but keeping your imagination open for the great ones will tighten your writing – I know it will tighten mine.
There you go! My story still needs editing, which I like doing, so I’ll keep learning, growing, and writing.
My SOUL still needs editing, which I may not like as much, but the end result is…well ‘out of this world’ ;-)


sherrinda said...

Dr. Pepper!!!!! I love that! It's my favorite. ;)

What an excellent post and a lovely analogy. In my writing, I have the exact opposite of your problem. I need more description, more prose, more detail. I tend to shoot straight, without giving depth.

As for my soul, sigh, God has taken his blood red pen and has been "cross"ing out the doubt and fear in my heart. I've always feared not being able to make ends meet, but over the past 4 years, God has proved Himself faithful time and time again - through the desert, through the fire, and through the raging waters. I have remained victorious in Him. It's still a struggle sometimes, but He is the true Provider. Always has been...always will.

May He continually use the delete button on my life, to rid me of sin and anything that ties me to the world.

I need to email you.... :)

Renee said...

Wow, editing must be on the hearts. I wrote a blog a few Sundays back on the red pen.

Pepper, this I believe is one of the best blog posts I have ever read.

My writing needs editing. Period. Grammar is not my strong suit. And I tend to go over the top with the emotions, although I'm learning to hold back a little.

As for my soul, it's a daily proces. Last week I was on top of the mountain, this week has been a bit rough, but then I am writing a story with Hebrews 13:15 as its focus. Praise Him in all things.

Mia said...

Dr. Pepper... I love that ;)

But what a beautiful post, and such an amazing analogy. For writing, I think I struggle most with description. Sometimes I don't add enough, and when I do it always seems cliched and boring. But ironically, that's what I get most complimented on, so I don't know. Maybe it's not my worst writing flaw.

And for my soul? Wow, God has had to 'edit' a lot of things there. Sometimes I feel like I'm dripping with red ink, but I have to remind myself He's doing it because he loves me, not because he wants to tear me apart ;)

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

You are a lovely writer..but alas we must all learn how to prune our garden :) Well said, Doc.

Debra E Marvin said...

Nice job, Pepper.
Seems that lately, I've had 20 different opinions on what to with my writing - too much description and not enough, for example, so I'm just going to write it my way.

Can't do that with the internal 'soul' editor though. Actually Tough is good there too, even desirable for me.

Pepper Basham said...

Good morning, good morning.
I have some blueberry pancakes here to get the morning started off, bowls of mixed fruit, and some hot chocolate. I'll let Ruthy or Julie provide the coffee - it's not my specialty. :-)
Before I take the kids off to school I wanted to stop by Seekerville and wowzers!! Comments already!

Your writing is lovely and I'm blessed that you've given me the opportunity to read some of it. I can't wait to see what God is going to do with it!

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks a bunch. This was one of those 'heart' posts, ya know? When you're in the middle of writing and God steps in and makes a devotional out of it.
I needed it and I'm really glad it blessed you too.

Pepper Basham said...

Thank you,
and isn't it great to know that God's editing pen never runs out of correction ink?
Praise the Lord - because if it did, I'd have run out a long time ago.

Pepper Basham said...

There's something about being called Doc that makes me feel smarter. Hmm...I like it. I think I'm going to enforce that title here at the house. Maybe my kids will be more obedient...
NOT ;-)
Thanks for your encouragement, Tina. And thanks for introducing me to Michael Hague. WONDERFUL info there, everybody. To find out more about his stuff go here (I haven't learned the cool hyperlink thing yet)

Pepper Basham said...

And Debra,
One thing that Mary says that really hit home with me -
Write what you love to read.
I know we need to pay attention to markets and such, but I also know if I'm going to spend thousands of hours on something, I want to enjoy it.
Epecially since revising takes such a long time :-)

sherrinda said...

But Pepper, what do you do if you love to read EVERYTHING? Some people have WIPS going in several different genres...ahem!!!! You know who you are! ;-)

Pepper Basham said...

Ahem...I resemble that remark ;-)
And in answer to your question.
You read the books
maybe even write them
But as I've learned recently, I need to hone my skills and focus on a genre, THEN spread out a little bit more after I get established and published :-)

Pepper Basham said...

I'll be back in a few hours. Gotta take kids to school and check in on a student.

sherrinda said...

What's up, Doc? lol...I couldn't resist!

Okay, so what genre are you going focus on? Or has God told you yet? It would be a difficult decision if I had a great voice in many genres like you. :)

Janet Dean said...

Pepper, welcome!!! How fun to have you on the posting side of Seekerville. When you earn your Dr. Pepper title, you'll have bottled you! LOL

I'm impressed with the variety of hats you wear and wear well! Wife, mom, instructor, pastor's wife and blogger just to name a few. Faith and Fiction on Fire is terrific.

I love thinking of the Holy Spirit as our soul's internal editor. You said it beautifully. I'm grateful that each day is a new chapter in my life. And I can start anew.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning Pepper, What an inspiring analogy. Loved the post and the blueberry pancakes. Yum

I do have coffee for those who need it. Chocolate Velvet of course and then I found another great flavor, Caramel Truffle. And for those who just plain love to have the spoon stand straight up in theirs, I have Starbucks.

and Dr. Pepper, yes I can guess who from Seekerville you are talking about with the slicer pen. I've been subjected to it myself. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my stars, Pepper!!!!

I love having you in Seekerville, dahling...


Taking advice and sharing it. You rock, woman. And WHAT KIND OF WEIRD, POSSIBLY EVIL, TWISTED WOMAN TOLD YOU TO AX WORDS????

Someone in Seekerville? I don't believe it. Surely you're mistaken. My guess is it was some Inkie DISGUISING herself as a Seeker. You know how sneaky they are!!! :)

What a lovely way of analogizing our personal and professional editing. Pepster, I love it. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!!

(talk about axing words. Oh mylanta, ax a couple of those wonderfuls, wontcha???)

And Sherrinda, Deb, Pep, I'm going to second Pepsters quote from Mary that you've all heard in various ways...

"Write what you love to read..."

With so many readers in the world, a certain percentage of like-minded people are inevitable...

You'll find your match. Promise.

Oh, I'm loving the pancakes. And coffee. Soooooooooo loving coffee.

And you, Pep.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Slicer pen????

SLICER PEN?????????


Arrr! We need pirates about to clean this place of such!!! Glynna!!! You know some pirates, lass!! Bring 'em on board and have 'em stand guard for slicing pens!!!!!


Hey, hey, hey, about the whole "What if you like to read everything????"

Then do what Karen White advised back in the day.

Write everything. Who knows which one will be the first to sell, then focus on that genre and establish yourself, but...

Why shouldn't you write in multiple genres if you enjoy it AND if you're actually finishing things and not happy-skipping your way from one half-done project to another, la di dah...


But if you're experimenting with voice, timing, genre, sure, skipping around well-rounds you.

In my humblest Ruthy opinion, of course.

Isn't that how Mary invented "Christian romantic historical western comedy with cowboys???"

Julie Lessman said...

Gosh, don't I feel like a slouch today, rolling out of bed to find 17 comments BEFORE I brew the coffee!! Well, it's here now, the standard cinnamon hazelnut, along with the BORING regular and Southern pecan (another favorite of mine ... yum!!). Crepes, blintzes and panny-cakes (what my kids called them) on the bar with warm New England maple syrup -- dig in!!

One thing that has really blown me away about Pepper is not only is the woman a wonderful writer, but when it comes to devotionals, she has a depth way beyond the ordinary ... a Holy Spirit depth that always touches the core. And, actually, she does that in her fiction, too.

RENEE ... oh, GREAT scripture, girl!! And one of my favorite Biblical concepts -- praising God in ALL things!! That way you're praising Him all the time and releasing major blessings. Not to mention kicking sand in the face of you know who ... :)

And I'm with RUTHY ... axe words??? Bite your tongue!! :)

Mary's right, as usual ... "write what you want to read"! Sound, sound advice! Because if you are, you're writing from a wellspring of passion -- which not only translates into stronger writing, but stronger following of the Holy Spirit since it's GOD who gave you that passion.

Great blog, Pep, as always!


Lisa Jordan said...

Great post! Thanks so much for sharing!

I'm striving to move past naming the emotions to showing the emotions and using physical reactions to show how a character is feeling.

I'm so guilty of overwriting--you know, repeating myself because I'm just not sure if a reader will understand what I'm trying to say. :-P

Pepper Basham said...

Oh Yipee! More people to the party.
Good morning!
I'm going to try and focus on contemp romantic comedy...I think - but as Ruthy can attest, I just edited my historical to send into Genesis. AHHHH!
My contemp ideas are starting to outweigh my historical ideas, which is one clue for me right now.
The second is that the contemps come easier for me and I LOOOVE humor!!! Not that humor can't happen in historicals (Mary!), but I have a harder time writing comedy in my historicals. I think it's a brain burp or something. :-)

Pepper Basham said...

LOL, me bottled up. No wonder its all fizzy ;-)

Thanks for the compliments to my blog. It's been a WONDERFUL experience trying to find out how I'm going to use it for writing and ministry. I just created it this past year, so I guess it's still in the 'growing' phase :-)

And YES - Praise God that 'his mercies are new every morning' - otherwise he'd run out of ink on me for sure

Pepper Basham said...

Oooh, chocolate velvet coffee! That's even tempting a noncoffee drinker like me - of course chocolate...enough said ;-)

And the 'Slicer' - well, love covers over a multitude of painful comments, right? ;-) She was brilliant! I'll take her hardball nudging ANYDAY (but don't tell her that, I think she enjoys it WAY too much)

Pepper Basham said...

Just so you know, I was so tickled by your comment I started spinning. Yes, SPINNING with joy. I wanted to have the experience so that next time I wrote it into a novel that 'She spun around', I could describe it better.
What do you think? ;-)

Love you back!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Great post, Pepper! Lots of great insights and good writing tips, too!

You know, I think we should all start calling you Dr. Pepper now. Why wait? It's so cute!

No way am I going to tell you all the ways God is working on making me a better person! There's too many and Blogger would probably cut me off like it did with that super long kissing scene I tried to put on here a few weeks ago.

Writing wise, I'd say my prose still doesn't flow like I wish it would. I also forget to put in description. Right now I'm struggling with making my characters unique and getting their GMC into "high drama" shape. I'll probably discover a lot more when my editor does my edits on my new medieval romance, The Healer's Apprentice, which is available for pre-order right now on and (it's cheaper at

Oh, how did that shameless plug get in there? Ooops! :-)

Pepper Basham said...

Oh and about Ruthy's comment on writing different genres

I LOOOVE writing YA/Juvenile fantasy and just had a full request for my wip. Which is great - as soon as I can finish the book. Thankfully they are happy with seeing what's done so far. Halfway there!!

This may sound really cliche, but my heart does a lot of guiding. I know God does it too. Julie can attest to the fact that PASSION leads one to write different stories.
It's so much fun to 'bounce' around as long as (like Ruthy said) you finish something.

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks for the great intro! WOW! I was duly humbled by your praise.
Like the edit wasn't enough ;-)

You are awesome! Truly.

Pepper Basham said...

And yes, I can so relate to 'overwriting'. I like to blame my overwriting/overtalking on genetics and profession.
My family are BIG time talkers - oral storytellers from the Blue Ridge and good ol' country folk.
Also, I'm a SPEECH language pathologist, so I can blame that too.
I'm all for passing the buck.
Um...what was I just saying about humility? ;-)

Pepper Basham said...

HA! Melanie,
That book of yours that no one is suppose to know about keeps popping up everywhere!! LOVE IT!
And have you guys seen the cover of it! FANTASTIC! If you want to 'see' the cover, you can check it out on Melanie's blog at

Tina Pinson said...

Oh sure Dr. Pepper,
do post on axing words and trying to be concise. Ugh

I too resemble that comment on over 100,000 with Agee more throw in just because they sound pretty to me.

And now you want me to ax them?


as for the soul axing-- there are days I wished God would just stop... But iknow there are just a couple of things that need dealt with

Just a couple


right now since the taxman hath cometh We're working on faith and trust issues...

Funny thing is those are issues that I've to deal with in writing as well

and the axing of course...

But I'm sharpening the head of my ax and God is surely honing his

thanks so much for the posts Pepper

Tina Pinson said...

Golly look at the errors in that puppy. typing on a wee keyboard with monSter fingers will get you everytime

i'm almost positive Agee is a word

Pepper Basham said...

Words are 'oh so pretty', aren't they Tina?
POETIC...ahem...(person who will not be named ;-)

Axing them is hard. Being concise...ugh. But the definition was great. I wanted to place the word 'concise' right up there with BORING and BLAND, but the truth of the matter is, the meaning is still intact.
My dad says "Say what you mean, and use as few words as possible."

There's a GREAT spiritual editor quote like this one - by St. Francis of Assisi. I have it posted near my computer "Preach the gospel always, if necessary use words."

In writing, (this is for me too - big time), I need to SHOW the action instead of using a bunch of words to describe it. It packs a bigger punch than..sniff, sniff, my flowery words most times :-)

Casey said...

Great post, Pepper!! It was great, especially because I went through the exact same thing recently with my mentor/coach/editor. But it has SO paid off. I got great encouragement (not the first time around mind you, more like the third :) But taking the advice had incrediable results. BTW- a bit of shameless promoting. Check out her website at Tiffany's great, and has been one the best decisions I made for my writing. :)

Pepper Basham said...

WTG! and the link was wonderful. What a fabulous ministry! I think I might contact Tiffany too :-)

patti said...

Julie and Pepper, you can't IMAGINE how this burns my face. I have just succumbed to the publisher's "suggestion" that I change the ending of my fall release.

I LOVE how you regrouped and let clear thoughts reign. Oh, it's so hard when people mess with your babies!!

Thanks ever so much for a GREAT post!!!

And Julie, you little rascal, hoep you're behaving!!

Mary Connealy said...

In the interest of full disclosure...
I'm pretty sure I didn't say, "Write what you love to read,"
I believe I heard it from someone else.

And the thing is, you may love to read multiple genres, I do, but 90% within Romance. So historical, contemporary, suspenseful, comedy, thrillers, prairie, romantic comedy with cowboys. I love reading all of those, but always romance.

Some exceptions.
Fay Kellerman
Jonathan Kellerman
Patricia Cornwell
Sue Grafton
Not romances.

But those are the exceptions to my long standing love of romance. And even in those exceptions is often the spark of romance.

Mary Connealy said...

I did actually invent my own genre.

Somehow I went from, "Sorry, nobody is doing that."
"She's a fresh new voice."

It's a wonder someone ever fell for it.

Mary Connealy said...

You know, I got to a point where I was just purely writing to entertain myself.

But the thing is, I wrote a LOT. If you look at a book and think, "All this labor, all these hours, I've GOT to get this right."
Then there's pressure.
But if you look at the book you're writing as, "No one's ever gonna publish this, I think I'll just do whatever sounds fun to me."
Then the pressure's off.
Send off that submission and forget it. Submit it to an editor, assume it's gonna get rejected and go back to the computer.
I had twenty finished books on my computer when I got my first book published.

Some might call that persisitence, a midwestern rancher wife work ethic, dedication, commitment, striving, tenacity, a towering monument to perseverance.

Others might call it obsessive compulsive disorder.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Pepper,

Love this post - your word usage is inspiring. No doubts that you will soon be published.

I have a politically incorrect question for you: Did it cost a fortune to get the edit done? And was it worth it?

Also, Melanie, I had to check out your book cover. It is GORGEOUS! One of the best I've seen. I'd buy it just for that window! And your blog is beautiful too! Congratulations on your book. You definitely need to toot your own horn more!

Thanks for the inspiration ladies!


Pepper Basham said...


Julie? Misbehaving? Are you serious ;-)

It's always good to come out of the fog of editing and see the grand scope of things, isn't it? It helps put situations into perspective :-)

Pepper Basham said...

Really, who cares who said it originally - YOU said it to me and that's made all the difference :-)

Also, Mary’s the one who introduced me to Seekerville. And Ruthy, I don’t care what you say, Mary’s been very nice to me.

Btw everyone, I bought Black Hills Blessing yesterday and can't wait to start reading it. Once this week is finished. Buy it at:

Find out more about it at Mary’s blog:

You can also learn about her adorable granddaughter there too. WAY CUTE! And very pink.


Btw, Mare, I've had four judges so far tell me I have a unique voice. I'm starting to feel a bit hopeful. maybe. Let me go back and read my edits - that will set me straight. :-)

Pepper Basham said...

Or some call it insanity.
Just sayin...

I get that alot.

Erica Vetsch said...

While I'm chuckling over Dr. heart is wincing over the truths in this post that I need to hear.

Very moving and thought provoking.

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks for the sweet comments. I'm learning - we'll see what God does with it :-)

After researching line edits a bit, you can really get into some cost. It all depends on who you pick to do it, I guess. And most line editors have different costs depending on how much you send to them. I just asked to have the first so many words edited at a lower cost. We're talking around $100. BUT a more thorough edit would have cost more. One line editor charged above $300, but it was for the first 10,000 words plus the proposal.
I'm no expert on this, though. I'm still learning. VERY immature in the ways of the writing world, but everyday I learn something else.
You should have seen me at my first conference. Embarrassing isn't a strong enough word.

Vince said...

Hi Pepper:

I love the passage you wrote below and I wouldn’t want a word changed…as a reader.

"Her breath tripped on a gasp and the sounds around her faded to silence. A chill trembled through her like frigid wind on wet flesh, grappling air into an icy knot lodged in the center of her chest. Here? Of all places?"

I believe editing is always ‘editing for’. It is never editing alone.

Editing in a vacuum is itself empty. To a large extent we see what is behind our eyes and we edit what we see. Soulful editing requires an understanding of the writer’s goals, the writer’s voice and the writer’s spirit.

A writer must first know herself, find herself, and resonate within her own voice before soulful editing can find the most fertile soil.

Editing is a moving target. Edits that are right today may be wrong tomorrow as the writer moves further down the path to maturity.

Editing is not either/or. Editing is like the color spectrum where many choices work well and each change in hue alters the suitability of all future choices. There is no finite number of colors. Editing is open-ended.

Some questions you need to ask before you edit:

Do you want brevity or do you want beauty. You can’t always have both.

Do you want to move the story or do you want to move the reader? Sometimes you can't do both or can’t do both equally well.

Are you only trying to tell a story or are you creating the most enjoyable reading experience? You may not be able to do both in every case.

Are you a ‘meat and potatoes’ writer or are you a gourmet. You can’t be both in the same work.

Do you only want to cross the finish line or are you willing to stop and smell the roses? You can’t do both.

There are some events in physics where observing a phenomenon changes the phenomenon. Editing is like this.

How you think about editing may well determine the benefits you obtain from that editing.

Personally I prefer the unedited Pepper.

I would also like to read a series of books someday that you wrote entitled: “The Lonely Hearts Club Band” where each band member finds love and salvation through the healing power of God’s grace.

Caveat: the above was an editorial comment.


Myra Johnson said...

Dr Pepper is my favorite afternoon beverage.

And "Dr. Pepper" is now one of my very favorite Seekerville guest bloggers!

What a great analogy, Pepper! Hmmm, the part of my writing that requires the most editing would be . . . making sure my main character's "burning desire" can carry the story.

The part of my soul that needs the most editing . . . I have to confess it's my tendency to compare myself with other writers (actually, people in general), and the envy and discouragement of thinking I don't measure up.

Then I have to remind myself there's only One whose opinion really matters. ;>D

Pepper Basham said...


Doesn't Dr. Pepper have such a nice ring to it? Of course, no one would take me seriously then.

Wouldn't change much from now :-)

Pepper Basham said...

You are quickly becoming one of my favorite people.

The Unedited Pepper...sniff, sniff.
You're a keeper!

And your comments like
"Do you want brevity or do you want beauty. You can’t always have both.

Do you want to move the story or do you want to move the reader? Sometimes you can't do both or can’t do both equally well.

Are you only trying to tell a story or are you creating the most enjoyable reading experience? You may not be able to do both in every case. "

Can I just answer 'Yes" to all the above? If you worded the questions differently I'd ace the quiz, seriously :-)

But you're right. As Stein says in his preface of How to Grow a Novel, a reader's pov is invaluable.

It's a good thing that most great authors are also great readers too. So we don't forget what makes a story memorable from the outside looking in.

This quote was great too, Vince:

"Editing in a vacuum is itself empty. To a large extent we see what is behind our eyes and we edit what we see. Soulful editing requires an understanding of the writer’s goals, the writer’s voice and the writer’s spirit."


Lindsey said...

Hey Mrs. Pepper! I have to tell your post was awesome and so helpful!
I have just started writing my first book just brainstorming now but I always feel like I'm needing to edit.
And I can always find something that needs editing in the soul!:)
And I'm with Sherrinda here I seem to have the opposite of your problem I don't seem to have enough description in my books:)

Tina Pinson said...

Vince I couldn't agree with you more.

I know we need to edit and chop out a few words, but people are chopping words left and right to reach a count or fit someone else's formula...sometimes I feel like we do it to appease the edit monster in us and we loose our voice along the way.

I often wonder how writers of yore would have stacked up to the ax these days.

Don't get me wrong. I know we have to edit. I know we need to cut.

There are times that the writing needs to be concise and there are times it needs to flow along.

Back to your soul editing, Pepper.

I believe God does the same with us. There are times the editing is a clip and chop and other times he chisels away little delicate snips and sands gently to make a masterpiece. And that masterpiece that God created has a place where it will find the best use.

Maybe he only changed a thought or word without removing any count so to speak, he just wanted us to see something in a different light and that bit of my story or paragraph became perfection.

Whatever the case... some readers see the beauty in the creation, others might care less.

But that's the nature of life and writing, and too many times I think we try to write for the masses. perhaps for the sale.

Wouldn't it be nice if some of the movies and stories out there actually used words?

Good grief there would be no dialog at all if they took out the slang words.

Stopping side tangent now.

Pepper Basham said...

Oh Myra,
You hit a Spirit nail with this zinger:

"I have to remind myself there's only One whose opinion really matters."

As an unpublished author, it's sometimes discouraging to read fantastic authors, like you Seekers, then go into a bookstore with GOBS and GOBS of other great books, and think...

It's impossible. I'll never be as good as that.

Remembering that God's opinion is the most important is that beacon of hope in the middle of the slush pile - for me anyway.

Another thing that helps is (prepare yourself Ruthy), taking Mary's advice and just enjoying the process of creating. Writing because writing can be So MUCH FUN!

I think I've mentioned this before, but there are so many times when I 'feel God's pleasure' when I write. Just like he's confirming the call and letting me know, that (like you said) HIS opinion matters most.

Gee whiz, I keep writing these enormously long replise. Sorry!

Tina Pinson said...


my goodness all those long responses. you must use the ax, grasshopper.


Not long at all. You just said what you felt like you needed to say.

Pepper Basham said...

Congrats on starting your first book. You are beginning a wonderful journey.

Seekerville is a great place to get encouragement for that inspiration inside of you. Even if some of the Seekers bring an axe (it's usually dull ;-)

If you ever want to purchase a great book on descriptions, try "Word Painting" by Rebecca McClanahan. I bought it last year at a writer's conference and it's a very nice resource.

Blessings with your writing.

Pepper Basham said...

If I said everything I felt like I needed to say, I'd never stop talking - and I'd sin a lot more :-) We're talkin' gallons more.

God would need like five extra heart pens just for me!! :-)

You and Vince both bring up some REALLY great points. Not that I'm an expert here, but I think there has to be a fine line between waxing long and getting to the point.

Different publishers and different markets look for different types of writing too. Right? so maybe there's a place for us descriptive authors out there ;-)

After good editing, of course

Laura Frantz said...

Wonderful post, wonderful excerpt - WOW!! I love your saying that a book is a bestseller because of Jesus. Amen and amen again:) His endorsement is truly all that's needed in the end. Bless you bunches.

Tina Pinson said...

Pepper said -- If I said everything I felt like I needed to say, I'd never stop talking - and I'd sin a lot more :-) We're talkin' gallons more.

Tina says -- I'm sure, if you're tuning fork is Christ you would stop talking. (then again maybe not)

Maybe the sin is in not saying something you were supposed to.

I guess you would just have to ask yourself, how much more should you say and you don't for fear it might run people off...

That's one I've got to learn.

Rose said...


Wonderful post and analogy.

I try not to "diva" on editor's comments or suggestions, although I do feel the need to explain why I wrote something that way but usually, I try it the way the editor wanted it and prose ends up being better.

Good luck with the submitted fulls!


Pepper Basham said...

Thank you, Laura.
You are SO SWEET!!

Pepper Basham said...

Sharp words, Tina. Like a scapel straight to the heart.
And concise too ;-)

Pepper Basham said...

I agree. I've found that most of the comments I've received from editors or judges have been good. Very helpful - and have made my writing better.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

You know, with all these women "spinning around" in romance novels...

It's a wonder we're not chronically inertiaed...

Caught in a total state of spinhood.

She spun around...

She whirled....

Or, better yet,...

Hurriedly, she spun about...

Oh, I'm making myself physically ill.

Do you ever, ever, ever, ever, ever in real life see women 'spin about' the way they do in novels.


And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Oh mylanta, pass the chocolate. I feel a 'spin' coming on...

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, eloquent and wonderful as always!

Great points from a gentle and wise heart.

But there is a problem. Getting published isn't always about what the author wants, but what an editor seeks.

It's tough with shorter word counts to wax poetic as a newbie. Not too many single title slots go to unpublished authors with no track record.

Now it CAN happen, but that's where targeting comes in, right?

This isn't an easy industry to crack into and I'm a huge cheerleader for anyone with moxie and chutzpah enough to ride the rail long enough to get a seat in the dining car.

But you're right, it comes down to choice and preference, absolutely. And it's not a right or wrong thing, not the way I see it. It's a dream thing. And some times in this life we do what needs be done to earn that dream.

And as you can see I need the slicer/dicer/shredder pen woman because I'm carryin' on like a Boston fishwife just double charged for haddock.


Project Journal said...

How'd I know that this would be good!? *wink*

This is definitely something to think about....I wish I could contribute a lil more, but the best connection I have to editing, per se, is for my essays, college essays (done that!), and scholarship essays.

Come to think of it, maybe I'll have to have you look over my english essay comparing the movie The Shawshanke (spelling?) Redemption and Crime and Punishment! Wouldn't that be fun *wink again!*

I'm just kidding.....but not with the part about writing that essay! I'm planning on doing it tonight....after piano.....but you don't want to know all this, so I'll stop rambling now!!

Great job, Pepper!

KC Frantzen said...

My dad asked a client why she was reading a certain book by Pat Conroy.

She replied (as she spun happily - oh - not exactly - that was for Ruthy) "Because he writes such beautiful sentences."

Great GREAT posting Dr. P.

KC Frantzen said...

One more thing

Thanks to the Seekers for all you do. The contests are so much fun. I won a couple of weeks ago and the book of my choice came today, Montana Rose, by Mary!

LOVE reading today that you are a "fresh voice" after creating your own genre. Made my day.

Looking forward to delving into your story.

Thanks to Camy, Ruthy and Tina for helping me too. Everyone here is a blessing, as evidenced by today's post.

"They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed." Psalm 37:25-26

Pepper Basham said...

Amen, and Amen about that praise for the Seekers, KC.

I'll spin again just for emphasis. Maybe dart somewhere too ;-)

They're such a supportive bunch.

And KC, I like the idea of Dr.P. Hmm...cute and concise ;-)

My word verification was 'blessner'. Well, at least the first part is good

Pepper Basham said...

Oh you sweetie, you!
And literature essays? RIGHT up my alley, girlfriend. I almost got a degree in English Lit instead of Communicative Disorders.

Are you one of those lovely Renaissance women? ;-) Piano, writing, smart, creative...

AND you hang with the Seekers!

Knew I liked you!

Julie Lessman said...

Patti and Pepper ... I do NOT misbehave ... you're getting me confused with my characters ... :)


Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Great post,Dr. Pepper. I can so relate to your thoughts about a professional edit. Yes, I felt discouraged when the chapters were returned to me. I wondered if I had what it takes. I put out the money to get this input. And being the thrifty shopper that I am, I needed to get my dollars' worth. Some changes she suggested I didn't agree with and others were only the editor's opinion and left up to me to decide. This experience was invaluable. Biggest problem is with writing scenes and summaries that don't move the story forward. I use too many words and say little. I learned more about fiction writing from that edit than from anything else so far. I loved your analogy for our spiritual life, too. There also I'm a work in progress. Pat

Helen Gray said...

Dear Dr.

1. Weaving descriptions in so that they flow naturally without sounding like descriptions needs editing in my writing.

2. As for my heart, it tends to go off on its own track and rhythm if not closely monitored.

Please write a prescription--a pretty little pill I can swallow and experience instant improvement--and phone it in to the local pharmacy.

Thanks in Advance


Tina Pinson said...

Julie said -- I do NOT misbehave ... you're getting me confused with my characters ... :)

Tina comments with a wry grin and hitch of her left brow -- Sure, blame it all on your characters. I soooo believe you.

Julie Lessman said...

Tina, behave ... or I will write you into one of my books as a cousin to Charity ... :)


Tina Pinson said...


Who in the world is Charity? She sounds like a very loving, gentle woman.

Pepper Basham said...

Aww, we know Julie has to get her characters from somewhere ;-)

Pepper Basham said...


1. Can I admit to still being in the 'appear smarter than you are' doctor phase? Residency perhaps ;-)
And if you ever get a doctor who can prescribe a pill for this, let me know. :-)

2. According to my three year old, the answer is always "Jesus"
I really don't want to get into the Biblical answer to character-building. It hurts too much - probably because it's associated with an 's' has two 'ff' in the middle and ends with 'ing). Romans 5:3-5. Shhhh!

Helen, I'll take your wisdom on this any day ;-)

Tracy Krauss said...

I always find the articles on Seekerville so informative. I really liked what you had to say about the need for editing. We often are so close to our own work that it is hard for us to see it objectively. That's why we really do need editors! Good advice!

Walt M said...


That was a great post. I like the Dr. Pepper nickame. I also like your blog.

Missy Tippens said...

Pepper!! Welcome, and thanks for such a great, fun post!! Thanks for sharing some of your work and your spiritual journey with us.

I'm off to read comments now. 75 already, I think! :)

Helen Gray said...


I went to the pharmacy tonight. Better known as church.

At the end of the Bible study the guy (roomie) said, "When things get hard, don't forget that Jesus is always there. He said he will be with us until the end."

I think he got the dosage right.


Missy Tippens said...

Pepper, congrats on the full YA/fantasy request!! :)

Pepper Basham said...

You got a great pharmacist there ;-)

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks, Missy.
We'll see how it goes. 3 of my 5 full requests so far have come back as rejections (in all genres :-)
But the rejections were VERY nice rejections.
It's okay, I figure I'll just move on to the next thing.
My granny has a GREAT quote for disappointment, trials, or suffering.
"Pray...and do the NEXT thing."

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks for stopping by. It's always nice to know that my personal struggles help encourage others ;-)


Audra Harders said...

Oh man, Pepper! Late to the party, but didn't miss it entirely! Soooo glad you've offered words from-the-wise in Seekerville : )

Good points made all around. I get so wordy, too. Kinda like trying on shoes in every make, model, and size until you find the right fit. You know it when you see it.

Strong writing is concise writing. I'm learning, slowly but surely.

I love everything you do on Faith and Fiction on Fire. Where you have all the time to be so creative is waaaaay beyond me : ) But, keep doing what you're doing because it's just wonderful : )

Pepper Basham said...

I think I'm related to Mary. I don't need much sleep. Of course, that's where the 'mental flexibility' or "creative ingenuity' (insanity some say) may come from.
Who really knows :-)

thanks for the kind words, especially about my blog. I thought this morning of ALL the posts to have on my blog today, I had one on God answering prayer with a "No". AHHH! It just fell that way. CRAZY! I sure hope that's only related to my most recent contest entry :-)

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks, Walt

Dr.Pepper is MUCH better than Lepper ;-)

I can't wait for your next Seeker post!

Mary Connealy said...

Pepper, when you get published...note I said WHEN not if...I think you should call yourself Dr. Pepper.
Just that. No other last name.

Very memorable.

You might get sued. Unless you really were a doctor. Then, well, what could they really say, huh?

Pepper Basham said...

LOL, Mary
I've got it.

A pseudo-pen name

Fiction to spice things up by Pepper Ann Salt

Btw, everyone - Mary's NEW book Doctor in Petticoats is coming out soon. Check it out on her blog, My Website

Pepper Basham said...

LOL, Mary
The hyperlink ALMOST worked ;-)

Pepper Basham said...


Now, let's see if this one worked :-)

Pepper Basham said...

Well, it's 11:30 my time, Seekers and friends.
It's been a BLAST being on Seekerville today.

Thanks everyone for your great support and encouragement.
There are many of you who are still with me on unpubbed island, so you know the 'waiting' game in real-time right now.

But those of you who are off the island still remember what if felt like to look out at the ocean, waiting for your ship to come in.

Thanks for encouraging all of us who are still looking for the ship.

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

How right you are. My observations on editing are philosophical in nature intended to free the spirit. Where they are pragmatic my theories apply mostly to critique partners and support groups.

An editor who is buying a product is like the customer who ‘is always right’.

I do think there is too much attention to form and too little to substance.

My philosophy is this:

Create something really worth reading and write it in a way that no one else could have written it. If you just do this, you will be forgiven a multitude of writing sins.

I wonder: why we are so eager to edit each other when we agree that we are made in God’s likeness? Are we not, Shtkefelecht?


Aaron McCarver said...

Great post, Pepper. A truth I always need to be reminded of--Who the writing is truly for! As an editor you'd think it would be easier for me to fully accept edits of my own writing (and I can honestly say that it does a lot of the time) but there are times I still struggle with edits and question them. (You didn't see this, Mary. Your editor is always right! :) ) That reminds me that I need to not argue and question when God through His Spirit is trying to edit thing is my own life. Thanks, Pepper, for the great lessons. Oh, and I have gotten to edit "Doctor in Petticoats" and it is wonderful! I loved revisiting characters from Petticoat Ranch. Getting ready to edit book 2 next. I know...what a job, but somebody has to do it!

Pepper Basham said...

I've only heard GREAT things about you!!
And WHAT a job. oooh, fun!
One of the first people to see Mary's must chuckle a lot :-)

Moonine Sue Watson said...

This was a timely article for me because I have an assignment to do that requires me to edit my own work.
Your examples will help me complete the project.