Developmental Editing & Proofreading Services

Developmental Editing Services

Developmental editing is generally the first step of editing to seek out once you have a completed draft of your manuscript. After submitting your manuscript, you will receive a summary highlighting all the story issues I’ve come across. Since this could result in a series of rewrites, it is best this phase comes before any proofreading or fine-tuning. However, every author has their own process.

This manuscript critique addresses various story element issues like plot holes, poor character development, character arcs, pacing, action sequences, point of view, narration, tenses, story flow, dialogue, language use, and any other elements that arise in your manuscript that relate to creative writing.

At a minimum, you will receive back three points that I liked about your story, things that worked well; and three points of constructive advice, and these are the points to work on or didn’t make sense. I will use examples and explain any issues that arise, so you can understand the suggestions.

I charge a flat rate of $17 per 1000 words, for English written manuscripts.

No editing service shall be commenced before payment in full has been made.

Proofreading Services

spelling and word choice confusionsConfusions between homophones (e.g. there/they’re/their). Misuse of definite and indefinite articles (the/a/an)Misuse of prepositions
Misplaced punctuationMissing or misused commas. Confusion between hyphens, em dashes and en dashes. Incorrect use of apostrophes
Stylistic inconsistencySwitching between UK and US conventions. Inconsistent capitalization of terms or titles. Inconsistent treatment of numbers
Formatting issuesIncorrect formatting of quotations and citations. Inconsistent paragraph indentation and spacing. Missing or misplaced page numbers, headers and footers

I charge a flat rate of $0.012 per word, for English written manuscripts. (Delivery 5-7 days).
Alternatively, I charge an express flat rate of $0.02 per word. (Delivery 24-48 hours).

No editing service shall be commenced before payment in full has been made.

To inquire about Developmental Editing or Proofreading Services, please contact me directly through the contact tab.

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‘Curse of Stone’ Character Interview

Writing the first book in the ‘Curse of Stone’ series was a four year process as there are many characters, twists, subplots, and many facets to the main plot. I needed to be clear on who was whom, what they looked like, their background, their role, and how they would react in certain situations as the story unfolded. I ended up creating a one-hundred page character book, giving each character a profile and biography. Many of these characters do appear in the first book, however, there are still many yet to appear. It was a great exercise for me, and a tool that I have referred back to countless times to check certain things, including small things like eye colour or hair colour, or even if that character had tattoos.

Because of this, I developed a great sense of character and have modelled the character development I did for this book into a workshop. For each character, I can tell you everything about them, and eighty-percent of it isn’t information included in the book, but it was critical to how they come across on the page.

One such character development tool that I frequently use, is the character interview tool, but that is just one of many tools I use to develop a character (can’t give away all my secrets in one post).

Below is the character interview I did for Jamie. He is the second main character in the ‘Curse of Stone’ series, and his story is told from first POV, and he is intertwined from the very beginning with Danielle Stone – the main POV. I decided to interview him with different questions to that of Gabriel (third main character) as he has different motives and background.

Basics

What is your full name? Do you have a nickname (if so, who calls you this)?
Jamie Wildhorn, but my friends call me Jay.

Where and when were you born?
I was born 16 June 1994

Who are/were your parents?
My biological parents died when I was young. The man who raised me and ultimately I see as my father is King – my alpha.

Do you have any siblings?
Not that I am aware of.

Where do you live now, and with whom?
I live an apartment on the fourth floor of Stone’s building.

What is your occupation?
What do I do? Let’s just say that I work in a team situation, it’s like security guard type work, and we protect the city.

Are you right-handed or left-handed?
Left-handed.

What is your hair and eye colour?
I have long brown dreadlocks, and my eyes are blue.

Do you have any physical traits that stand out? If you have tattoos, why did you get and what meaning do they have to you?
My upper body is covered in tattoos. They tell my story, my history, where I come from, and my loyalty to my pack.

How would you describe your childhood?
Normal I guess, except I also had to learn things that regular kids didn’t, like the history of our species and our role in society. I had to learn how to fight, pack law, and learn about demons and how to kill them. I got all of that knowledge from King, but I feel like I had a normal childhood like regular kids because Stone was my best friend back then, and still is, and after my parents died, her grandmother took me in as sort of like a foster grandson, I spent a lot of time at her house.

How much schooling have you had?
I finished high school. Didn’t need to go to university.

Did you enjoy school? If not, why did you struggle?
I enjoyed the social side of it, and being there with Stone.

Where did you learn most of your skills and abilities?
From King.

Do you have any role models? If yes, describe them and why they are your role models.
It would honestly have to be King. He raised me by himself, and taught me everything I know today. He is the strongest, fiercest, and smartest man I know.

Do you get along with the other members of your family?
I don’t have any blood relatives but I consider my pack as my family – we are like a big extended family. So, yes, we all get along for the most part.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Even back then I knew I didn’t have a choice. I can pretend to have a normal job, but my real job is so much cooler. Who wouldn’t want to be a werewolf, right?

What are your favourite activities?
Sex. Partying. Going to the gym. Flirting.

Who were you friends with growing up, and what were they like?
I had heaps of friends growing up. There was a big group of us. Kyle, Marcus, Harley, Tiffany, Stone, Flynn. They were all really nice and laid back.

When did you have your first kiss, and who with?
My first kiss, that takes me back. I think I was like six or seven years old and it was with Danielle Stone.

Are you a virgin? If not, when and with whom did you lose your virginity?
Ha, ha, ha. Me? A virgin? Yeah right. But I don’t kiss and tell…all the time.

Do you have a criminal record?
No

If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be, and why?
Not making Stone mine before Harley transferred to our high school. She should never have dated that loser. But I have waited for her to come back to me, and now she is back…in my life.

What is your best memory so far? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
When I transformed to my human form for the first time, when I turned two years old. We are born in wolf form, so that moment was incredible.

What is your worst memory so far? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
My first transformation back to wolf, after taking human form at age two.

What is your biggest secret? Does anyone else know about this? Which person do you least want to know about this secret, why?
That would that Stone doesn’t know I’m a werewolf. I don’t even know how to tell her that.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Optimistic.

What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is telling the woman I have loved all these years that I love her and being rejected by her when I finally decide to tell her and make myself the most vulnerable and honest, I have ever been.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Women

What are your religious views?
None – the devil exists.

What are your views on sex?
The more the better.

Do you believe in the existence of soul mates and/or true love?
Perhaps, but there is more than just one person who is our soul mate, but I believe that there is only one soul mate that is right.

In your opinion, what is the most evil thing any human being could do?
Side with evil.

Are you able to kill? Under what circumstances do you find killing to be acceptable or unacceptable?
Yes, I can kill anything I want; however, I am designed to kill demons, without being susceptible to human law.

How honest are you about your thoughts and feelings in the company of others?
In a round-about way I am honest, except about Stone. Sometimes people don’t need to know.

Who or what would you die for, or otherwise go to extremes for?
My pack, my alpha, and Stone.

In general, how do you treat others?
I’m a bit of a smartarse, I am cheeky, and make people laugh. Although sometimes I can be annoying. I treat others with respect, absolutely.

How close are you to your family?
If you are talking about my pack, then we are close.

Which person do you wish you were closest to?
Danielle Stone.

Do you have a spouse or significant other? If so, describe this person in some rough strokes.
Not right now, but there is someone special I wish to make my mate for life.

Have you started your own family?
No, because the only person I would ever consider settling down with, doesn’t know how I feel about her.

Who is the most important person in your life, why?
My dad, my pack, Danielle Stone.

Who would you turn to if you were in desperate need of help?
Dad or my pack.

What is/are your favourite hobbies and pastimes?
Sex, partying, working out.

Do you like to read? If so, what do you like to read?
No

Do you smoke, drink, or use drugs? If so, why? How do you get the money for it? Do you want to quit?
Drink alcohol. Don’t smoke – that’s bad for you.

How do you spend a typical Saturday night?
Having a few drinks with mates on occasion, having sex, annoying Stone, or working.

If you usually walk away from a situation that makes you angry, where do you go to calm yourself?
I like to be alone.

How do you deal with stress?
I don’t get stressed, but if I’m really fustrated or bothered by something, then sex.

How do you deal with pain (physical and emotional)?
I put a mask up when I am hurting, I don’t like anyone to know.

Are you spontaneous, or do you always need to have a plan?
Depends on what you are referring to.

What are your pet peeves?
Girls who don’t stick up for themselves.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Confidence, and calling me on my shit.

Where would you like to live? Why?
Wherever Stone is.

Describe the routine of a normal day for you. How do you feel when this routine is disrupted?
I don’t have a routine, what each day brings is unknown for me.

What is your greatest strength?
My strength.

What is your greatest weakness?
Danielle Stone.

Do you like yourself?
Absolutely, I mean look at me.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Nothing, I’m awesome.

Name three things you consider yourself to be good at, and three things you consider yourself to be bad at.
Good things – flirting, talking, sex. Bad things – feelings, monogamy, honesty.

What three words best describe your personality?
Playful, charming, genuine

What three words would others probably use to describe you?
Sexy, handsome, manly.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Wherever Stone is. I hope to be able to muster up the courage to tell her how I feel about her, so I guess I secretly hope for us to be together. Married to Stone with one or two kids already.

If you could choose, how would you want to die?
In the arms of Stone.

If you knew you were going to die in twenty-four hours, name three things you would do in the time you had left.
Tell Stone how I feel about her, hold her close to me and love her with all I have, and I would marry her.

If you were to die and come back as a person, animal, or thing, what do you think it would be, and why?
Well since I am already both human and wolf, I would like to come back as me.

What is the one thing for which you would most like to be remembered after your death?
The greatest lover of all time.

What do you have in your pockets or purse?
My phone, wallet, lip balm.

What in or on your nightstand?
Condoms, light, glass of water, phone charger.

What is in your refrigerator?
Beer, water, vegetables, leftover pizza

Short Story Review: The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart was first published in 1843 and is a short story by the American writer Edgar Allen Poe. It was then subsequently published as part of Poe’s Book – Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

The story is told by an unnamed narrator that tries to convince the reader that he is not mad but provoked and haunted by the ‘evil’ eye of the old man, taunted almost, and to rid himself of the eye, he must murder the old man that he loved very much. It follows him as he walks us through his calculated and cunning plan to commit the murder, all while declaring his sanity.

What I really like about Poe’s works, is that you can expect his narrators to be unreliable, making the reader unable to really know whether to trust him or not. In this case, the narrator is trying to mask his true intentions and feelings by his attempt to prove his sanity by exercising dissimulation. What’s to say he isn’t using dissimulation on us too?

What I think is both a strength and weakness of The Tell-Tale Heart is Poe’s style of writing, it can be quite maddening, with his short sentences leave me with questions as to the meaning, and his longer sentences are precisely worded and descriptive. It is so carefully worded, which highlights Poe’s exquisite talent as a writer, that it highlights the angle of the narrator’s chaotic mind.

I really like Poe’s work, and I have a copy of Tales of Mystery and Imagination. What I will take forth with me from this piece was his narrators’ deception and use of dissimulation, I like that the reader doesn’t know whether to trust what he says as truth or not.

Poe, E.A. (1843). The tell-tale heart. Retrieved from

https://www.poemuseum.org/the-tell-tale-heart

Book Review: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

The Awakening is the first book in The Vampire Dairies series. The main plot follows main character, Elena Gilbert, who is a doppelganger for a centuries old vampire who caused romantic havoc between a pair of brothers, Stefan and Damon; whilst she tries to readjust to normal life after losing both parents in an accident.

The subplot follows Elena and her encounters with a black crow, unaware it’s Stefan’s brother Damon. The crow appears at the most harrowing times, causing unease. The subplot is crucial to moving the story forward because it lays the foundation for Damon’s entrance, his fascination with Elena, and shows us that his character is darker and more dangerous than Stefan’s.

I applied an interwoven subplot to my story by the lingering strangers following Danielle, i.e. “standing at the edge of a darkened alleyway, was a man. His eyes were locked on me, even as the sea of people crossed his path continuously. I stared back at his eyes for what felt like a minute, he did not look away or falter…and as I looked back to the man, he was gone.” This intertwines with the main plot by letting the reader know everything is not as it seems, it adds to the external conflict when all is revealed to Danielle.

Smith, L.J. (2007). The vampire diaries: the awakening and the struggle (1st ed.). New York City: HarperCollins Publishers

Short Story Review: Arrangement in Black and White by Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker is an American short-story writer and poet and became one of the greatest humourists of her generation. Arrangement in Black and White was published in 1927.

This short story follows the story of the main character – a woman, and her dialogue with the host of the party, and an African-American musician. The dialogue between the characters is how the author helps reveal the woman’s character as she socialises at a predominately white party. It raises the issue of racial discrimination that African-American people suffered in the first half of the twentieth century in America.

I think this short story is brilliant, and its use of dialogue to show the undertones of the self-appointed racial superiority is brilliant. It is what is meant by her twisted words that is more revealing than her waffling on contradicting herself every few sentences. I like how the author lets the woman talk way too much, and through conversation her gossipy and white judgemental side is apparent, allowing for the realism of racism between whites and coloured people to shine through. It is a clever use of words and tone that helps sets this story.

What I didn’t like about this story, to be honest, was the main character. I just wanted to tell her to shut up, so it was humorous to me that she sabotaged herself.

This was one of my favourites to review because I learnt that allowing a character to unapologetically be themselves, and not holding their tongue, it makes for a rather wicked way of telling a story and shows the readers her true nature and story by her actions and dialogue. Parker, D. (1927). Arrangement in black and white. New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1927/10/08/arrangement-in-black-and-white

Writing Exercises: Three Sentences Rewrite

Sentence 1: Marie hurried down the steps.

As she stepped out her front door, the icy cold wind slapped her in the face, her breathe smoked like she was having a cigarette, and her eyes became glassy in the bitterness of the weather. How could she have forgotten the Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, Marie thought to herself with her cheeks flushed red in embarrassment as she hurried down the rattling four flights of steps to her newly purchased red hatchback car. She only had twenty minutes to fight the Thanksgiving crowds and traffic to get to Coles before it closed. She prayed as she drove, hoping there would still be a Turkey left.

Sentence 2: I went up the tree-lined driveway.

So many thoughts scrambling through my head right now. All my fears, hopes, dreams, and heartache of this moment were now going to become a reality. I had wanted and waited for this moment to happen for so long. Walking up the tree-lined driveway, each step closer getting heavier, I had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. The silence walking between and under the towering trees that shadowed me was unsettling, a little eerie, like the silence before a storm, making me even more nervous and apprehensive. The excitement of this long awaited moment was overrun with the fear of being unloved, she was my biological mother after all, surely she felt some love towards me.

Sentence 3: Kevin and Angela fought.

Standing in line waiting for their turn, Angela and Kevin fought between themselves laughing as to who was going to go first down the water slide. They became so engrossed in who was going to go first, they had forgotten the platform they were standing on was wet and slippery. Angela poked out her tongue and pushed Kevin. He grabbed her forearm to stop himself from falling over, but they both slipped over and landed on their bottoms with a gigantic thud. Embarrassed with flushed red cheeks, they couldn’t do anything but laugh.

Book Review: Safari by Tony Park

Based in Zimbabwe for the most part Safari follows Canadian researcher Michelle Parker, her interactions withFletcher Reynolds, a lodge owner in the safari business. She jumps at an opportunity to visit the mountain gorillas, but the head of Reynold’s anti-poaching unit makes her start to rethink her decision.

I liked Park’s first-hand knowledge of places and wildlife, making the descriptions vivid, and using sound to compliment visual imagery. I applied this idea of combining senses in a sentence to my own writing, to bring vivid imagery to mind: “The odd cat knocking over trash cans, vagabonds sleeping along the walls wrapped with cardboard.”

Park balanced the pace of the fast-paced novel by using short sentences to break up the long descriptive sentences. It felt balanced, it kept the flow moving. Following long sentences, I placed shorter sentences before or after, to keep the story moving forward, i.e. short, short, long – “Spine tingling, heart pounding, I broke into a run. It wasn’t far to my building, only about one hundred metres. My black-laced boots pounded the pavement as I raced past a few late shoppers, listening keenly for the sound of someone trying to catch up to me”

Flash Fiction Exercise: Stuck on an Island – Day 52 Diary Entry

Day 52
The flames from the fire have begun to dwindle for yet another night. It’s a romantic notion. Penning my deepest thoughts by candlelight of sorts. The gentle caress of the ocean lapping at the shore, like a lullaby gentling me to slumber.
The stars dazzle like twinkling diamonds. I can’t help but stare. Only a quarter moon tonight.
The sand beneath me is cool. It’s the only place to sit where the large green ants won’t attack and bite me. Little buggers.
There is no breeze. No rustling in the tree canopy. No haunting whistles of wind whipping through the forest. Every footfall of wild animals draws my attention. I never know if one will become curious enough to approach me.
I heard them again today. The voices. Carried along the with wind as whispers. The island
isn’t inhabited but I still won’t step foot in the caves at the base of the waterfall.
I must head inland tomorrow to retrieve fresh water again. It’s a tedious trek, back and
forth, carrying small amounts in my makeshift bucket.
Oh, and my lips cracked again today and bled. The residual salt from the ocean spray made
them sting

Book Review: The Young King by Doug Wilson

The third and final installment of this trilogy, and it didn’t disappoint. The final battle between good and evil. I loved that the characters had now matured into young adults (teenagers), and had developed their abilities. Peter and Siobhan explore the depths of their friendship in a lighthearted manner and that was awesome. Siobhan is a fierce character and a natural fighter.
In this book we see the ancient societies, such as the Roman legions and commanders – which is such a neat inclusion.
I personally liked the dynamics of one of the villains, Wulfric.
This book is a great ending and closure for the trilogy. I recommend this book to all aged eleven and older.

Author Interview: Curse of Stone by Nikki Lockwood

Interview with Nikki Lockwood – The Author of the ‘Curse of Stone’.

What inspired you to write this book?

This idea actually came to me in a dream that was persistent over several weeks. It was Gabriel’s character that was in the dream, and his brothers. Their curse and existence were intriguing and complex, and then when the girl came into the picture (in my dream) I knew there was a story to be told here.

Can you tell me about the book?

When a strange man starts following her, and weird things start occurring, she turns to her best friend, Jamie, who is secretly a werewolf and knows more than he is telling her.  

When the great-aunt appears, things start to spiral further into danger. Danielle doesn’t know that she is being hunted by an ancient demon, and minions of evil are coming for her.

Enter Gabriel. A cursed man – and a gargoyle, he is searching for his healer – the one human female destined to break his curse. He must find her before evil does.

It’s really the old tale of good versus evil, but they are racing against the clock.

What does the title mean?

Curse of Stone has a complex meaning. It relates to an actual curse that becomes known in the book. The curse is about three stones, hence curse of stone. Three stones, one of blood, one of light, and one bound. The one of blood is the healer or the main character, Danielle. The one of light is a precious gem (stone) not of earth’s realm and is the necklace mentioned in the book. The one bound that relates to the man cursed in stone – and the second male character, Gabriel, who is a gargoyle. To understand how they interrelate you’ll need to read the book.

Were the characters inspired by real people?

Yes and no. To be honest, the character of Jamie is based on a person I once knew (obviously not with the same name). But his personality is based on several people.

Gabriel is not based on a real person, but his mannerism and the way he carries himself was inspired by a real person.

The character of Radu is inspired by a legendary folk tale from an Eastern European country. Researching that legend was incredibly fascinating and brining him to life in a different way from his legends was extremely rewarding.

Do you have a favourite character in the book?

From the perspective of writing the characters, at the start it was Gabriel. However, after developing the characters in-depth, Jamie was my favourite character to write.

How many hours a day do you write?

On weekdays, I write on average between 6-9 hours a day. On the weekends is when I try to do my editing, reflection, proofreads, plotting, and character or storyline research.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

That I know my characters inside and out before they even get to the page. But from a technical viewpoint, when I am writing I cannot hold a conversation with anyone because my mind is so in the zone that I cannot focus on anything but the story in which I am telling.

What do you think comes first, the plot or characters?

It depends on whether you are writing a character-driven story or a plot-driven story. For me I would say even when a story idea strikes, I tend to focus on who the characters are that are carrying/telling the story, then I will plot out what I want to happen – however the characters can take the story away from the original plot as well, which isn’t a bad thing.

How do you develop your characters?

I love developing my characters, it is so much fun. For ‘Curse of Stone’ I created a character book that has each character’s biography, background, quirks, and storylines in it, as well as drawings or photos of physical features that I wanted for each. The book is about 100 pages long as it has characters in it that weren’t in the first book but will be arriving in either book 2 or 3.

My methods for character development are intense. I can tell you everything about them, most of which never hits the page. I do this because I want to have my characters authentically respond and react to situations, with language specific to them. I’m not going to give away all my secrets here.

How much world building did you do before writing this book?

Because it is set in a city, there wasn’t much world building to do. However, I did have to think about the layout and complexity of getting around the city to each location in the book. So, I guess I did a bit.

What was the hardest scene to write?

This is an interesting question. If I were answering this generically, it would be any intimate or lovey-dovey scenes because I get squeamish writing them. However, the hardest scene to write was the funeral scene and then the final chapters.

What surprised you the most while writing this book?

The character of Velkan. Originally, he was going to be the main character’s main love interest and then would form a love triangle with another, but as Jamie’s character voice became stronger and more complex, Velkan’s character became not what I had originally planned and that surprised me.

If your book was turned into a movie, what celebrities would play your characters?

To be honest, I have given this a bit of thought already – not saying that it would ever happen, but it’s fun to think about. If it were to be made into a movie, I wouldn’t want any well-known actors or actresses to portray my characters – unless it was a background character.

I have set people in mind for the main characters and even the additional characters. I won’t say anything more except that I saw them on Instagram.

Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

When you are in the nitty gritty of writing your story, you are extremely focused, and it is mentally exhausting. Some days, when I have been writing since dawn, I am exhausted by three or five in the afternoon and literally cannot do anything else that would stimulate my brain. So, I watch a movie – one that I have seen before so I am not as interested.

I guess it’s important to keep good health, take moments to breath and take in your surroundings, eat good food, stay away from negative stimuli, believe in your story, practice your craft, and get a good night’s sleep – however that last one I cannot claim I do, as I suffer from insomnia and barely get 1-3 hours’ sleep a night.

Yes, so eat well, live well, take breaks, and sleep, because being mentally exhausted is just as taxing on the body as being physically exhausted.

How do you deal with reviews, do you read them?

I love reviews – good and bad. Critical reviews make writers better at their craft and I know that may not be a common opinion but who else can give you brutally honest feedback than a disgruntled reader. I haven’t received any negative feedback about ‘Curse of Stone’ yet but have received complimentary reviews so far.

What can we expect in book two of this series? Any snippets you can share about the future of the characters?

I have an array of wonderfully crafted new creatures to introduce. More plots twists. In book two, the readers will get to know Gabriel’s story more, as well as some of the other werewolves.

There will just be more explanation and the ‘why’ of certain characters.

The second book takes the characters out of the city of Estermoore and into different realms, so the world building for the second and third books is more elaborate.

I know those who have read the book are wondering what happens to Jamie, well, I have something lined up for his character – but I am not willing to give out any details yet.

What are you working on right now? Could you share any details with readers?

I have just finished the editing and publishing of an anthology of works by our local writers’ group. I have my non-fiction book coming out shortly about Africa, which I have been working on for the past five years.

I have finished a new standalone novel that is really cool, and I have several other manuscripts on the go.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

I am on Instagram @nikkinzwriter; Twitter @nikkinzwriter; Facebook @nikkilockwoodnz; and I also have a website and blog www.nikkilockwood.com. And yes, I will respond to legitimate comments and questions, not spam or irrelevant nonsense.

Curse of Stone‘ is available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon.com.