Ask for Help

by Andy ScheerIMG_9177 adj

No one’s an expert at everything.

This past Saturday, while working on a home improvement project, I faced a choice: I could risk injury—or I could ask my wife’s help.

I needed to trim several inches from the end of an eight-foot board. My table saw was ready. But without a third hand, I couldn’t support the board to make the cut.

I could have tried to jury-rig some kind of support. But why bother? All I had to do was ask for her help.

Writing projects can also be like that. Recently a multi-published author asked for my help on a daily devotional. Much of the material dated back several decades, before he’d gotten formal training in writing. He has great insights that he expresses well, but knows that grammar is a weak point. He asked me to examine each entry—primarily to check the grammar.

Then there was the YA fantasy novel I just edited. The author spun a captivating story. But he struggled with his dialogue attributions, using an old-fashioned, telling style that pulled readers out of the story. In the tracked-changes version I sent him, he could see how I made sure speakers were identified clearly and early, how I mixed dialogue tags with beats and replaced the telling dialogue tags.

We all have weaknesses, areas of our writing in which we’ll struggle.

On his next novel, he might not need this help. Or maybe he will. We all have weaknesses, areas of our writing in which we’ll always struggle. If we’re wise, we’ll find others we can trust to point out those shortcomings. One we’ve overcome an initial reluctance to ask for help, we’ll be glad we did.

About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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