MYSTERY WRITER, EDITOR, BOOK COACH
Jennie Nash, Private Book Coach and Chief Creative Officer at Author Accelerator
Diana Renn worked as our Director of Coach Development at Author Accelerator for more than three years, and I came to trust her judgment implicitly during that time. She has a deep understanding of the fundamental principles of story and knows what it means to give meaningful, actionable feedback in a compassionate way writers can actually use. Her calm professionalism and keen editorial eye would be an asset to any novelist. I cannot recommend her more highly.
Kerri Maher, author of The Kennedy Debutante, The Girl in White Gloves, and The Paris Bookseller
Diana Renn is the first person I turn to for feedback on drafts. She sees exactly what needs to be done to improve a manuscript, and offers insightful and detailed feedback in a generous and upbeat manner. You can’t do better for your book!
Bonnie Waltch, YA writer
I was so grateful to have Diana Renn consult with me on three different occasions. The first time, I was still working through my first draft and she read a section of my manuscript and a 5-page novel synopsis. She talked through my story with me, making many useful suggestions to deepen my plot by adding twists and turns and creating more complicated character dynamics. Next, she edited my query letter, adding more vibrant language to my pitch, which again was extremely helpful. Most recently, she read my first two chapters, which I was preparing for submission to agents, and suggested ways I could compress scenes and heighten the drama. At each step, her knowledge of story structure, plotting, and characters and her keen insights and concrete suggestions helped make my book the best it could be. If – and when – it gets published, I’ll have Diana to thank for it!
Erin Cashman, award-winning author of The Exceptionals and Uncharted
Diana Renn has provided invaluable feedback to me on each stage of the writing process, from brainstorming, to identifying plot issues, to character development. When I was drafting Uncharted, Diana worked with me in particular on heightening the mystery elements and tying together the various plot points. She provides detailed feedback in such a helpful and supportive manner that it not only encourages me, but makes me excited to get back to work! I cannot recommend her highly enough; any writer would be fortunate to work with her.
As a coach and editor specializing in all things mystery, I can help you:
- Develop a sleuth with a rich internal life
- Raise stakes, clarifying an amateur or child sleuth’s reason to get involved in a mystery
- Strategize about series potential for your sleuth and your world
- Ensure criminals / suspects have plausible means, motives, and opportunities for committing crimes
- Ensure there are ample compelling suspects and red herrings
- Pace out clues and reveals
- Pace out crimes
- Amplify conflict, build suspense
- Write clear and dynamic action scenes
- Craft plot twists the reader won’t see coming
- Manage research vs. storytelling
- Deal with the law (police / detective characters, legal matters)
- Balance the mystery genre with other genre conventions
- Balance a mystery sub-plot within a larger storyline (particularly if you are writing a “mystery about the past”, “hidden history,” or “family secret” story)
- Work within mystery genre conventions while avoiding tired tropes
- Depict compelling sleuthing teams, manage large casts, while avoiding the Scooby Doo effect (“You meddling kids!”)
- Develop useful and three-dimensional sidekicks
- Figure stuff out! (Staying a step or two ahead of your sleuth—and readers—then helping you cover up your tracks to keep them guessing!)
- Deal with project management and reach the finish line of your draft or revision – no matter what genre you work in!
My mission as your coach and editor:
I love helping other writers solve their own mysteries faster, shining a light to help them see a path forward to “the end” of a draft or revision, and demystifying the writing process in general by providing specific tools and strategies at every step of the way.
I work in a collaborative spirit, and enjoy the brainstorming and problem-solving process. I really enjoy guiding writers through decision-making processes.
In my feedback, I will offer questions designed to spark ideas, point out different perspectives, provide editorial suggestions, challenge you with some “what if’s,” and give you my direct, honest opinion in a compassionate way if I feel something’s just not yet coming through on the page. But you are still in charge of your story! Sometimes my questions and suggestions to address a problem may prompt you to think of some other solution entirely – and that’s great!
I will invest my time and energy in your project, championing your book at every stage, and rooting for you as its creator rather than imposing my vision or structure. I will also make sure to share specific examples of what I think is working well, to raise your awareness of your own writing strengths – so that you can keep doing those things.
MY PARTNERS IN CRIME ARE:
- Writers of middle grade, young adult, or adult novels that are mysteries — or have an element of mystery.
- Writers who are not sure if their book should be a mystery — or just have a mystery subplot (I can help you figure that out!)
- Mystery writers who are overlapping with other genres (such as historical, paranormal, thriller, romance, science fiction / speculative fiction)
- Writers of cozy mysteries, literary mysteries, hard-boiled mysteries, domestic suspense – I love them all! (And if you’re not sure what shelf your book should sit on, I can help you figure that out!)
- Writers who are Nature Detectives – Writers of eco fiction, climate fiction, or anything related to natural history, conservation, environmental justice, environmental activism, or exploring the mysteries of the natural world. This can be interpreted broadly.
- Writers of all genders, religions, races, ethnicities, ages, or sexual orientations.
- Writers struggling to complete a novel due to ADHD or other executive function issues. I have extensive training and experience in this area. I also feel strongly that folks with EF issues tend to be highly creative people whose stories deserve to be heard – and FINISHED. If you identify as a part of this group, please let me know on the intake form.
Genres I do NOT work in and services I do NOT offer are:
- Adult horror (It’s not a genre that I am well-read in, but I’ll happily take kidlit horror, and I love a spooky ghost story!)
- Nonfiction / Self-Help EXCEPT for direct referrals from publishers (For nonfiction, I offer assessments, coaching, and editing in partnership with SheWrites Press and Girl Friday Productions, which utilize specific referral systems and pricing / packages. Currently, I am only working with nonfiction clients who come through publisher referrals).
- Copyediting and Proofreading
In addition, I do not work with misogynistic, racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic or transphobic content. I understand there may be characters who represent certain viewpoints –not necessarily shared by the author – and there may be justifiable reasons for including those viewpoints. Mysteries and crime fiction involve letting people see the darker sides of humanity. Even in a cozy mystery, the crook in the cupcake shop may voice some opinions that readers might find distasteful. That’s fine! However, if I deem the overall or cumulative tone or effect of such narrative choices as ticking off any of these boxes, or if violence or rhetoric feels gratuitous and not serving a narrative purpose, I am likely to turn down your project.
If you’ve read this far and suspect I’m not the best fit for your work, but you do want a coach or editor, please check out Author Accelerator’s searchable coach matching directory. It lists over 160 certified book coaches who offer a variety of programs and pricing structures, work in time zones all over the world, and coach / edit across genres. You can filter for specific search criteria. For a $50.00 fee, Author Accelerator will also hand-match you with a coach. (And they are great at this. I know because it used to be my job!)