Diagnostic Editing (Non-Fiction and Play)Scott Mann, Author of Game Changers and Elegy of a Green Beret

Identifying the 15 Core Scenes or Spine of a Novel – Briauna

This is a live recording of an editing session I conducted with an author to help her create the main plot points of her story. Briauna gives about a 5 minute introduction and then plays our recorded session. We spoke for over two hours but she edited it down to 30 minutes. Google Podcast Link.

Diagnostic Editing (Science Fiction, Thriller) – Krista, Author of the forthcoming Nexus Point from the Time Ranger book series

First Draft Edit: Aug 2019

Randy Surles was fast, efficient, and gave me useful feedback.  He was friendly, easy to work with, and when he showed me what didn’t work in the story, I didn’t feel like I was being berated for being a bad writer, nor did I feel like he was trying to show off that he knew more than I did about story writing – a problem I’ve consistently found with unprofessional’s giving me feedback on my writing.  I left our last session excited to work on my story, not burdened with having so much to fix.  The clear goal I have for my story is thanks to Randy’s help and I don’t know if I would have found it without his help.  I’m seriously thinking of using his developmental editing services to develop my writing even more.

Final Draft Edit: Aug 2020

‘…the greatest crossover readership for you though, is the fact that amidst all the dazzling technologies and the meticulously crafted time-travel plotting is that there’s a compelling central character who’s grappling with deeply emotional conflicts…

‘You’ve got imaginative concepts and arcing conflicts and characters here that will carry you through book after book. Your action is top-notch…

‘Time travel is a perennial favorite and this fresh, exciting, and original example of the genre does not disappoint.

‘This well-plotted, structured, and peopled book was an enormous treat to read and will thrill science fiction fans and time travel aficionados.’

This is a sampling of the praise my book garnered from my publisher’s editor. None of this would have been possible without the help of Randy Surles. My book probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day without his help, guidance and formidable background in developmental editing. Randy helped me learn to write the right way, and turn what was a mess of a story into something to be proud of. I would gladly put my faith in his editing skills for all my future books.

Diagnostic Editing (Post-Apocalyptic, Action) – J. Thorn, Science Fiction and Horror Author

After publishing more than 2 million words of fiction, I have worked with many editors in my time.  Recently, on my newest novel, I had the great pleasure of working with Randy Surles.  His knowledge, professionalism, and attention to detail were all superb.  From the beginning, it was obvious that he had invested a lot of time in my manuscript.  He identified my story issues and gave me clear steps to solve those problems and make the story work even better.  More importantly, he got the story I was trying to tell and made suggestions while not imposing his ideas on me.  He took the story structure he knows on a deep level and helped me make a more compelling story.  I would highly recommend Randy as an editor.

Diagnostic Editing (Thriller) – Lance B., Author

Randy exceeded my expectations. The level of detail and analysis he provided me was tremendously helpful. He digested my manuscript so thoroughly that he was able to give me unique observations and suggestions that will enable me to greatly improve the story. In addition, he provided me a host of references and resources to better understand the writing process and my genre. I can’t recommend him enough.  

Book Mentoring (Military Thriller) – Steven E., Author

I’ve gotten to know Randy over the past year as the editor of my novel.  His patience and expertise have been immensely beneficial to me and the material.  His approach is both tactical and strategic and he is ready and willing to dive into the mechanics of each scene to make them operate as efficiently as possible.  His drive to make each scene work individually and as part of the larger whole has kept me on track as a writer .  I wouldn’t be where I am today not for him.

Diagnostic Editing (Thriller) – Marc D., Author

From my first contact with Randy, he impressed me with his level of communication and enthusiasm to help.This is the first novel I’ve ever written, so  I was apprehensive as to what benefit a diagnostic could have for my manuscript. However, thanks to him, I learned an extremely great deal in a very short amount of time. His analysis gave me direction for my next draft and cleared up a lot of confusion on how I could make my story better. No matter what level writer you are, or what place in your writing you are, if you think you need some direction, I would very much recommend reaching out to Randy. He is quick, highly detailed and most importantly, cares about your work.

The Story Grid

Story Grid Book

If you want to learn more about writing a story using the Story Grid methodology, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.

These articles contain information about the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. They also give details on obligatory scenes and conventions for specific genres, such as the thriller, love story, war story, crime story, and more.

For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.

Editing Services

If you are interested in hiring me to edit your manuscript or if you need help writing a novel, check out my editing services. Also, see my Testimonials page for comments from previous clients.


Manuscript Editing Services
Manuscript Editing Services

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