Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mona Risk, Contemporary Romance Author, Shares Editing Tips

Mona Risk
I'm very happy to welcome my guest and Internet friend, Mona Risk, today.
Mona never thought chemistry would lead her to publishing romance novels! Her Ph.D. in Chemistry trained her to prepare medicinal products, allowed her to analyze water and soil samples, and landed her contracts to refurbish laboratories in foreign countries. As a director of an analytical laboratory, she traveled to more than fifty countries on business or vacation. To relax from her hectic schedule, she avidly read romance novels and mentally plotted her own books. Eventually she left a successful scientific career to dedicate herself to her passion and share the many stories brewing in her head. Mona likes to set stories in the fascinating places she visited and throw conflict at her heroes and heroines.

"Mona Risk writes heroes with heart, heroines with spunk in stories and settings that are simply unforgettable!" -- Roxanne St. Claire, Killer Curves, National Bestseller.

You can reach Mona at  and

Mona says, "If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat."

Her current release is Rx IN RUSSIAN. Here's a little bit about it -

Fyodor Vassilov is a Russian widower, surgeon and officer. Duty demands he provide a mother to his four little boys and marry a woman who loves children and a big family.
Jillian Burton is an American pediatrician on a mission to improve medical conditions in Belarus. She blames herself and her ex-husband for their son’s death, and has lost her illusions about men and marriage. When they work together for six months in his hospital, their fascination with one another shocks them both. Can attraction and love overcome guilt, duty, and a clash of cultures?
For more, see

AND NOW - Mona has some great tips today she'd like to share with you about editing
Edit your Manuscript
By Mona Risk

Someone said that creating a good book is ten percent writing and ninety-percent editing. Although I believe this statistics to be exaggerated, I certainly spend a lot of time polishing my manuscripts before sending them off to an editor.

For me, editing starts while I am writing. As soon as I type my first chapter, I read it again and again, first to check the story flows well, then for typos, spelling and grammar and finally to make sure that the hook is grabbing enough. By hook I mean, the first line, the first paragraph and the first page. These should be intriguing enough to catch a reader’s—or editor’s—interest. As a result, I keep revising the first line and first paragraph while I continue to write my story. By the time the book is finished, I have at least twenty versions of first paragraphs, all saved. I compare them, send them to my critique partners, and sometimes combine some of them, until I am satisfied with my hook.

While revising my first book for ever—more precisely for three years— I realized that an outline could save a lot of time. Now before starting a new story, I do my homework: an outline for the first three chapters, a summary of the back story, a few lines about the hero, heroine and villain’s characters and one paragraph to summarize the storyline. Only then, do I allow myself to start typing the actual story.

By the time my partial is polished, I am well acquainted with my characters and I have a pretty good idea of where the plot is going.

An outline for the whole book completes my preparations and helps my story to flow. Now I can write without interruption for days and weeks.

To edit the whole book, I tabulate the chapters and scenes, and then check the following items.

Setting: avoid having several scenes in the same setting. It’s boring.

POV: Heroine’s or hero’s. If you have a long book you can add, the villain’s POV.

Hook: strong enough to grab the reader.

GMC: what is the goal in that scene, what is the conflict?

Emotional development: show how the Hero/heroine’s attraction to each other escalates and their romance progresses. You should see a definite increase of tension and emotion from scene to scene.

Action: it’s important to show some stage direction.

Sensual Tension: any eye contact, hand touching, kiss,… Like the emotional development, the sexual tension should increase from chapter to chapter.

Sensorial: smell, sounds and color in the scene. It helps the reader be grounded in the scene.

End hook: Make sure it generates suspense, a question to be answered in the next scene or some emotion that keeps the reader panting.

Pace: how do you evaluate the pace in this scene, fast, medium slow? It should be fast if you have action or dialogue, and slow to emphasize emotion.

In addition to self-editing, I can’t stress enough the importance of sharing your work with critique partners.

You manuscript is ready to go. You need one last reading. I suggest you save the file in Adobe, click on VIEW, and then READ OUT LOUD. It’s an amazing feature I discovered a few years ago. The computer will read your story while you look at the pages on the monitor screen and note on a paper the repetitions, missing words, lack of transition. I prefer this method to printing and reading on paper. But you need one these two methods of final reading to catch the mistakes your eyes have stopped seeing on the screen.

Babies in the Bargain

Rx for Trust

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN winner of 2009 Best Romance Novel at Preditors & Editors and winner of 2009 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite.

Rx FOR TRUST, winner of 2010 Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite and 2011 EPICON.      

Mona’s books are all available at

Mona's website:
Mona's blogspot:

Please leave a comment below to welcome Mona.


  1. I outline and edit as I go, too.

  2. Hi Mona,
    I'm so happy to have you here. Have a good time!
    I agree about critiques. They are a must!

    Morgan Mandel

  3. Mona, good info on editing in pieces. I like how you evaluate the pace with action vs emotion and ending your chapters with a question or problem to set up your next scene. Especially like evaluating each scene as to GMC.

    It's common sense but presented in such a way that a writer can train their own eye as they're writing. Most of us write what we'd personally like to read. So, we've read a ton of books as a fun research sort of thing, lol! Editing in pieces, like you outline, puts into practice that research. Satisfies our senses first and makes the overall editing much easier.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject!

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  4. Hi Diane, I'm glad to see we are both doing it right, outline and edit as you go, and then give it a thorough editing from beginning to end.

  5. Hi Sia, I found out that this technique saved me a lot of time and allowed me to see the whole story at once.

  6. Great ideas, Mona. I have used 3x5 scene cards for ages, but I sometimes lost them, or misfiled them. Now I use the Scrivener program and it lets me do all of the above...and not have to go digging through the bottom of my pocketbook for a critical scene card. I respect writers who do not plot or analyze a book scene by scene, but I can see my work improve when I do.

  7. Hi Mona,

    How fun to read about your editing process. I'm impressed that you keep all those versions of the first paragraph and mix and match later to create the strongest possible lead. Openings are hard for many writers, so this is a tip many will take to heart.

    I also need to try that adobe feature. It sounds like it would be right up my alley.

    Best wishes, Maggie

  8. Hi, Mona. Good advice, esp. on the opening hook. That first sentence is so important. it sets the tone of the whole book.

  9. Hi Mona. Enjoyed your post on editing tips. I've learned to enjoy editing my books and found your tips helpful. And I'd say your PH D in Chemistry was the right fit to transition into an author. Every hero/heroine needs perfect Chemistry so you were twenty steps ahead of the rest of us. I can't wait to read one of our books...

  10. Mary Jo Burke9:38 AM

    Hi Mona,

    I love the outline idea. I stress it to my kids. It makes writing anything so much easier.

    Mary Jo

  11. If only I were organized enough to write outlines, but alas, I'm not!

    Morgan Mandel

  12. Mona, Wow! Awesome tips and I do most of them. Which I think puts me on the right track! The outline is biggie for me and if anything, I allow for flexablity in case the characters want to do something a tad bit different.

    Prescription in Russian is a fine read. I loved the exotic setting and the characterization was very rich! Fydor and Jilian smoulder.


  13. Hi Kelly, thanks for mentoning the Scrivener program. I will look into it.

  14. Hi Maggie, I heard so much about the importance of the first paragraph. According to so many mentors and workshop instructors, your first paragraph sells or rejects your book. I am always in a state of panic when I read mine and keep changing it until I’m convinced it’s perfect.

  15. MONA--your advice is very professional. Now if I could only apply more of these. I've always been a pantser, but recently learned the value of at least a 1, 2, 3 plot--three acts--summary so I will know where I'm going with the story. This works a little better for me with short stories/novellas, which I find I'm writing more of these days. Thanks for the tips, and congratulations on your newest release. Celia

  16. You have a great plan for editing. Clearly it works! I'm a big believer in creating a brief synopsis of each chapter. You can really surprise yourself when you do that. Sometimes you'll realize you totally dropped threads of the story and left them hanging.

  17. Keena, have you read the 9 important items in a hook according to Donald Maass? They guarantee you success.

  18. Barb--you made me smile. My professors would have had a heart attack if I told them that my Ph.D. in chemistry was the perfect tool to write love scenes. LOL. Thank you. Enjoy my books. I don't like bragging, but I love reading them over and over again. I'm always in love with my current hero.

  19. Hi Mary Jo-- I started making todo lists since I was a little girl. I guess an outline is just a todo list for your protagonists.

  20. Morgan--You're doing well all that you're doing. Give yourself a pat on the shoulder.

  21. Celia--I've never written novellas. I thought they are more difficult to write than average-size books. But I need my outline to keep track of what I wrote in each chapter.

  22. Helen--I took a workshop by Angela James on self-editing and she insisted on the necessity of having an outline. Not a rigid one carved in stone, but a flexible outline that still let your muse wander around.

  23. Great post, Mona. You hit on so many things I've struggled through, but I keep learning. Someone said the learning curve of a writer is continual. Mine arcs quite high and broad. Much success with your release.

  24. Mona is one great author and I am proud to know her.
    Love u Mona!!

  25. Vonnie--I think publishing is a matter of perseverance. Sooner or later we get published. Some writers insist on the NY publishers and may wait longer, unless they are very very good or very very lucky; and others are quite pleased to be published by a publisher who likes them. Now a day, ebooks are becoming the leading trend. so I am happy I made the right decision with my publishers.

  26. Mary, thank you so much for your support.

  27. Hi Mona,

    It's always nice to 'see' a fellow Rose out and about! Great advice. I just finished a second round of edits on a new project. The more eyes the better!

  28. Excellent post and advice/tips Mona, hard won from all your experience. I am feeling inspired.

  29. Excellent post, Mona. I like how you brought us through step-by-step. Best of luck!

  30. That's a great idea about saving all the versions of your opening. I'm always changing things and often I save chunks of things that I've cut, but I don't save prior versions of what I've written. I think that's a mistake, at least with the opening. So now I'm going to start creating a file to save all those versions. Great tip!

  31. Hi Debra, thank you for stopping by. The more eyes the a certain point. I'm sure you are careful to keep and protect your voice.

  32. Thanks Beth, that's a nice compliment.

  33. Cheryl-- So glad you found this post useful.

  34. Kate-- desktop and laptop computers have such an impressive memory that it doesn't take much space to save a few extra files. These help on the long run.

  35. Hi Mona,
    Great blog. You have come up with some very relevant points. I love the idea of the computer reading the work out loud. I'll have to try that. Thank you.



  36. I definately want to try that read out loud thing. You've mentioned that before and I didn't even know I had it on my computer. Your hard work at editing shows in your books, Mona, so congratulations, and I wish you many happy sales!

  37. Hi Margaret, once you try the Read Out loud, you will love it. It's an easy but thorough technique.

  38. Thank you Liana. Reading out loud has helped me catch a lot of missing words, typos and repetitions. It's a useful tool.

  39. Very helpful, Mona, particularly the read out loud feature on Adobe...have to try it...

    Alison Chambers

  40. Hi Sandra-- glad you like it that new feature.

  41. Thanks Again, Mona, for your great tips!

    Morgan Mandel

  42. Hi Mona,

    Great post by a fab lady! I have tried to do the 'read aloud thing' before but have no clue how to save my word doc in Adobe. Would you mind breaking it down for a computer-dumbhead???

    R x

  43. Great advice. I also tend to edit as I go and then do some final edits at the very end.


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