A Powerful Visual Image in Your Story

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Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days is designed to shape a not-yet submitted, rejected, or self-published manuscript with low ratings into a book that shines. The method can also be a guiding resource for writers starting a manuscript. See details below.

In a writers conference workshop, Zena Dell Lowe, a conference speaker, college professor, and writing consultant, told us, “A powerful visual image is when your character does something that speaks volumes of truth.”

Example 1

Look at the opening photo. Suppose the woman, Marie, has dodged marriage talk with boyfriend, Tate, for almost a year. She says she likes her independence and her job. Tate continues to be loyal to Marie, treating her like a princess, hoping she’ll one day agree to marry him.

One Sunday afternoon, he invites Marie to stroll over to the cliffs. They walk hand in hand. She’s happy and can’t wait to tell him about her promotion. On the cliff top, he tells her he’s enlisted in the Marines and leaves for boot camp tomorrow. She gapes then turns and steps to the edge of the cliff. He holds her hand in a loose grasp.


To me, two actions speak volumes of truth.

  • Marie’s gape says she never believed Tate would leaver her.
  • Tate’s loose grasp on her hand says he’s onto Marie. He knows she won’t jump off the cliff. Her move to the edge is another of her attempts to scare him and keep him in tow. But he’s had enough. He’s moving on and removing himself from her reach.


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Example 2

Airline pilot Michael, has soared the skies for ten years, taking passengers safely to their international destinations. He’s away from home days and weeks at a time. He goes out with other pilots and stewardesses to bars in exotic places. He loves flying, but he feels his home life is wanting. His introverted wife, Anna, is a school librarian and Sunday school teacher.

Michael returns home after nearly a week away in Europe. Anna greets him at the door, takes his overnight bag from him, and sets it on the foyer floor. She grasps his hand and leads him to the living room sofa. He wonders if she also finds her home life wanting and wants to end their marriage. It would be bitter sweet, but maybe a trial separation would be for the best.

Anna tells Michael she’s pregnant. Three and a half months along. After two miscarriages, she’s finally going to have a baby. He doesn’t know what to think. Her hopeful expression disappears. She slips away to the kitchen.

Michael digs his laptop from his bag, leaves the house, and heads for the airport. On the way, a whirlwind of thoughts about Anna, the pregnancy, and a child churn his mind. At the airport with the laptop in hand, he strides onto the tarmac and sits at its edge. He hammers out a new life mission statement, detailing how he’ll become a caring, attentive husband to Anna and the best father to his child.


I think Michael running to the airport shows his job has been his comfort zone and possibly his crutch for dealing with life. Sitting on the tarmac pounding out a new mission statement says he realizes it was his life that needed revival, not the relationship. The baby has awakened his desire for what he really needed.

Can you share a movie example in which an unexpected character action spoke volumes of truth?

Buy Link

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Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

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  1. Sally Jo Pitts

    I agree with all the comments above about Zoe’s Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript. It is full of helpful suggestions and I find myself reaching for the book often for reference and inspiration.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I believe it’s an effective resource to help writers get their manuscripts ready for publication whichever route they take. Thank you, Sally Jo, for letting others know that you found this to be true.

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