Denise M Taylor

Writing Consultant I Editor I Proofreader I Teacher

There is no question that writers who approach me for an assessment of their unpublished manuscripts are passionate about what they have written, whether it is a work of fiction or non-fiction. It takes courage to plunge into icy, foreign waters in search of a professional to provide them with a critique of their writing. It takes even greater courage […]

A few years ago, an author of nonfiction whom I was mentoring as she wrote her new book, shared with me an interview she’d been listening to. The interviewee was Barbara Kingsolver, acclaimed author of historical fiction. Kingsolver was talking about the difference between fiction and nonfiction, and suggested that writing a novel is like creating a garden in the […]

Due to the insidious COVID-19 pandemic, people around the globe are bunkering down to try and stop the coronavirus from spreading further. During May, I am discounting my writing consultancy fees. I want to encourage you to write, or keep writing. If you’re well on the way with your writing project, but it’s been sitting on the back-burner of your […]

The long-winded ‘journey’ sentence, often punctuated with too many stops and starts can be excruciating. It can lose readers in its wordiness. Some readers may end up wishing they could sentence the author to the depths of Dante’s Inferno. But I’m rather partial to the occasional well-constructed long sentence—it can be intoxicating. I am glad others agree. In a recent […]

Every editing enquiry I receive requires a bit of digging. I am acutely aware of ensuring that writers who entrust me with the job of editing their completed draft before publication or submission obtain maximum value for money. Digging entails finding out exactly what the writer is expecting from an edit. It’s amazing how different the responses are! And how […]

Silence is a tool that writers of fiction can use to great effect. By silencing a character in a poignant moment, emotion is heightened; interrupting action with silence can magnify drama; allowing a character to inhabit a space devoid of action allows time-out and an opportunity for reflection. For examples of silences in literary writing, seek out authors such as […]

In Geraldine Brooks’ ‘Year of Wonders’ (2001), Part 1 is called ‘Leaf-Fall, 1666’. Readers’ senses are immediately stimulated as autumnal sights, sounds and smells are richly evoked; there is an undercurrent of the foreshadowing of tragedy, decay and death. Chapter 1 is called ‘Apple-picking time’ and the reader can hear the ripened apples tumbling into bins; smell the hay, the […]

It often happens that a writer engages me for an assessment of her or his manuscript (fiction or non-fiction) and I end up mentoring the writer throughout the rewrites until the manuscript is ready to edit and proofread. I then review submission material to be sent to publishers. The support and guidance of a suitable mentor and/or editor is immeasurable, […]

Dangling modifiers (often participles) continue to hang around in sentences, probably because most writers (and readers) are indifferent to them. Some work, but most don’t. This month I have encountered so many of the latter from various sources that it has piqued my interest and motivated me to do some thinking on the subject. You may ask: What are dangling […]

A few years ago I wrote a thesis with its focus the mid-nineteenth-century painting by British artist Valentine Prinsep, ‘The flight of Jane Shore’. I researched Jane Shore’s life to the point of obsession and got to know this medieval royal mistress so well that I thought I could speak for her—write her story in the genre of historical fiction. […]