Home Editing Writing


Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with many writers as a substantive editor and
writing coach. Whether the writer was experienced or inexperienced, whether we worked on fiction or non-fiction, for publication or for personal development, the job is the same: to make the work better than it was before. Some of these writers (and one publisher, who uses my services) were kind enough to provide the following kind words:

"I'd spent thousands on other editors over the past few years, but your honest and direct (though kind) comments made me see what was wrong with a basically saleable book. I applied your suggestions to the whole manuscript and all of a sudden, I'm getting lots of wonderful reviews. It feels great! I truly believe that your edit made the difference."

–Sheila Lowe, author of POISONED PEN, Feb. 2007,
recipient of a starred review in Publishers Weekly.

"Editing my book with Ellen Larson was for me, a first-time fiction writer, like taking a graduate course in plot and character. We worked methodically through the text on two levels: the details and the big picture. In considering the details, Ellen quickly spied inconsistencies of point-of-view and logic errors within my plot, which helped guide my rewrite. More important was our work on the big-picture items of character and theme. Ellen pushed me to consider how each scene related to my themes, and urged me to broaden the depths of my characters. She helped me see create believable and quirky characters by paying attention to not only a character's behavior, but the motivation behind it. No author's work will ever be criticized for "cardboard characters" after working with Ellen. The best complement I can pay an editor is that he or she teaches me to "see," so that I can fix the problems myself, rather than doing it for me. Ellen's influence runs through my entire first novel, but the words on the pages all came from me. Taking what I learned from her in editing my first novel, I wrote a second that my publisher loved, and accepted with hardly an edit. "

–Mark Arsenault, author of SPIKED, nominated for
the 2004 Shamus Award for Best First Novel.

Ellen Larson has provided invaluable service to Poisoned Pen Press in working with books and authors that we felt needed considerable work but that also had considerable potential. She's been able to help those authors realize that potential in an efficient, timely manner and it is doubtful we could have published those books without Ellen's editorial services. I unconditionally recommend her."

 –Robert Rosenwald
Publisher and President
Poisoned Pen Press

In 1996, I graduated from college and dabbled in various jobs—I produced promos for public TV, taught K-12, answered phones, and managed a Museum. Five years later while driving my parent’s 87 Buick Century on the freeway, watching the sun rise above the industrial buildings (romantic, I know), it hit me. A writer. I wanted to be a writer. More than anything, I wanted to write for a living, or at least get published regularly, and if possible, write a little like Hemingway and Faulkner.

Alas, I knew passion was not enough so I took on-line writing courses and contemplated several college writing courses. I realized immediately that I wanted one-on-one help, particularly on my current writing projects. So, I sought out on-line writing coaches and editors, of which there are zillions. Fortunately, I picked Ellen. Her credentials are exemplary. Plus, she happened to be the only editor who offers one free edit job, and her prices are really reasonable, especially considering her top-notch editing.

I have worked now with Ellen for two years and have enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, I look forward to many, many more years to come. Fortunately (again), I began working with her just when I embarked on my first of many professional writing projects with a major American publishing company. I know without a doubt that she is the reason that I have been asked repeatedly to contribute articles to this company. Ellen’s professional, shrewd, and extremely thorough edits have completely transformed my writing for the better every time. The end product is always extraordinarily clearer, sharper, more polished than the original. Her comments (always enjoyable and easy to understand) are always right on target. In the process, Ellen is teaching me how to be a better writer, and as a result, I am making better choices as I write.

Ellen has not only helped me with my professional writing, but she edits my fiction and addresses all my questions about the industry and heavier topics concerning the art of literature. She epitomizes everything I knew I wanted in an editor and more—we have established a wonderful working relationship. There’s no one else who I trust with my writing. I can always count on Ellen for timely, professional (and personable), and consistently superb service. I have recommended her to everyone who’s mentioned interest in writing or currently working on writing projects and will continue to do so. All it takes is one edit, and you’ll see what I mean.

–Gladys Knight, freelance writer

Approximately eight years ago, I started writing personal essays and Ellen has read and commented on most of the stories I have written.  It has been a long and slow process for me but Ellen has given me great encouragement in finding my own voice. I send her my essays via email and then she returns them with her comments. She provides objective and dispassionate commentary on such things as:

  • Does the essay flow from beginning to end?
  • What is the point of the essay and does everything in the essay work to reinforce the major impetus of my story?
  • Is there clarity in the story?  Does the structure work?

As to the more mundane topics of grammar, tense, and word choice, she is ruthless in the pursuit of clean writing.

Ellen has been a huge help to me and I would recommend anyone who is interested in improving the quality of their writing to utilize her services.

–Charles McBride, chemistry teacher