Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Commitments to Your Characters by Janet Sketchley

With my newest release, Hidden Secrets, I was strongly tempted to publish without using an editor. Sure, I’d needed one for each of my previous books, but the manuscript felt good to me. I’d self-edited it many times, and after three novels and a novella, I had a pretty good handle on this writing thing. Plus I’m blessed with naturally good spelling and grammar.

Are you laughing yet?

My editor is, if she’s reading this post.

Common sense said the professional thing to do was to find an editor. Find, because the editor of book one, Unknown Enemy, had moved on to other work. I’d heard good things about Brilliant Cut Editing, and when Deirdre agreed to squeeze me into her schedule, I sent off my manuscript.

She’d find a few things to tweak, I expected, and I should be on track for a fast revision and a late 2018 publication date.

You’ll notice it’s now summer 2019 and I’m writing about my “new release.”

The document came back with 926 comments. Nine hundred twenty-six. And a cover note about it being pretty raw in places.

As well as assigning a mountain of work, the comments identified strong points and those which could become even stronger. So many of them addressed punctuation errors that I’ve dubbed myself the queen of misplaced commas and run-on sentences.

Writing can be humbling. But I’d far rather be humbled by editors and beta readers—who are on my side—than by readers and reviewers after publication.

I remember working on my first novel, Heaven’s Prey, and rewriting for years. My commitment to my characters was that as long as I could learn to do better with their story, I’d keep revising. Working with a trusted editor, beta readers, cover artist, and any other necessary resources, is part of keeping that commitment. We writers owe it to our characters.

What promises have you made to your characters as you write?

I’d far rather be humbled by editors and beta readers—who are on my side—than by readers and reviewers after publication. via @JanetSketchley #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Janet Sketchley is an Atlantic Canadian writer who likes her fiction with a splash of mystery or adventure and a dash of Christianity. Why leave faith out of our stories if it’s part of our lives? You can find Janet online at

The secrets of Captain Hiltz may not have died with him.

When Landon Smith returns to the Green Dory Inn, she finds innkeeper Anna Young still shaken by the recent vandalism and unable to cope when the inn is targeted in an online vendetta. Prickly neighbour Bobby Hawke can help with Anna’s cyber woes, but when the attacks escalate to physical threats, Landon and Bobby must work together to unmask the culprit.
A cryptic message about a tunnel points to the property’s original owner, a notorious Prohibition-era sea captain rumoured to have left hidden wealth. Contraband, treasure, evidence of things better left buried…
How far will Anna’s enemy go to claim the tunnel and its contents? Protecting Anna will require courage and faith as Landon battles the locals’ attitudes and the scars of her past. Even then, she and Bobby are tracing the faintest of clues. With Anna on the brink of emotional collapse—and danger rising like the tide—time is running out.


  1. Thanks for the chance to guest post! With the special link writers have with our characters, I'm looking forward to hearing about some of the promises we've made to them.

    1. Glad to have you, Janet.

      I can't say I've consciously made my characters promises, but if I did, it would be like you, to put them in the best book that is possible for me to create.

  2. One I didn't verbalize but that I made as a commitment in Hidden Secrets was that I wouldn't let a certain character die. Then of course I discovered why they should and had to find a good reason for it not to happen--and figure out how to stop it :)

  3. I'm laughing - but only because I completely understand! I'm a freelance editor, and I've also published three novels. I sent my latest manuscript to my editor, and it came back with some punctuation errors corrected - and some comments that made me rethink how I'd approached writing my main character. Let's just say, my editor was right, and I've been making a lot of revisions! LOL!

    1. Oh, and basically, my editor felt my heroine wasn't likeable. Yikes! So, I guess I made a promise to my character that I'd make her "loveable." LOL!

  4. Oh, that hurts when editors or early readers don't like our characters! For me that means I haven't succeeded in putting the character in my head onto the page :( Again, it's good to know that so we can go back and make it better.


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