Are you a writer? An editor? I’m both. And I’m here to help you do things better—without wasting your time or money.

Welcome, y’all! I’m M. B. Heywood, professional editor and author. I’ve been editing nonfiction for a decade. More recently, I’ve been writing (and editing and publishing) “sword and spirit” fantasy fiction set in the Vaporous Realms.

I understand the messiness, constraints, opportunities, and conundrums of life in the editorial and publishing trenches today. As an editor and occasional ghostwriter, I’ve supervised and guided other editors and writers. I’ve also put in countless hours of line-by-line grunt work on hundreds of manuscripts.

Now I’m here to help you master the art of the printed word affordably and efficiently through a) simply stated principles, b) specific, practical steps, and c) Q&As featuring your individual writing or editing questions. My aim is provide you accessible editorial training and advice in a human way, without a lot of trivia or other clutter.

Will I hide the fact that I’m not a fan of heavy reliance on AI writing and editing tools? No. Will the examples I use to illustrate my points tend toward the whimsical? Probably. My main goal, though, is to help strengthen your confidence and competence in editing your (or someone else’s) words to the expected standard of quality, whatever that is.

If you think a friendly personal editorial consultant / bootcamp instructor would be helpful, then becoming a subscriber here will be worth your while.

If You’re a Writer of Any Sort…

Bottom line: good editing costs either substantial time or substantial money. It should. It’s hard work that requires a lot of skill and practice to do well.

But how do you know it’s being done well? You may glean a few pointers over time from AI assistants and paid editors. Yet, without any real framework of editorial know-how, it’s tough to build confidence.

Whenever possible, it’s wise to get more human eyes on your writing, but those eyes have a cost. And some editorial eyes are far more skilled than others. I want you to be able to collaborate in a discerning way, on a more equal footing, with human (and AI) editors. A little editorial self-sufficiency can make a difference, especially for authors facing thin margins.

I and the Editor vs. the Machines community are here to help you learn to catch your own proverbial fish. I want to help you help yourself.

If You’re an Editor…

Many smart futurists and pragmatists are telling us to take a deep breath and calm the heck down about AI. It’s already everywhere, they observe. We already use a kind of AI whenever we ask a search engine to find stuff on the internet for us. With respect, I say: not all AI is the same. We don’t have to swallow this “inevitable” technology wholesale, or gladly.

Folks can differ in good faith on where to draw the lines. However, the notion of machines thinking for humans in the areas that most define our humanity—the creative arts, language, decisions with moral implications and the information that feeds those judgments—feels different to me. There’s a difference between machines barely smart enough to catch the occasional straightforward error and machines that imitate us, make complex judgments, or presume to do our jobs for us.

If you likewise find AI advances deeply perturbing, know that you’re not alone. Your heebie-jeebies deserve empathy and validation currently in short supply among the experts who influence many creative industries. Inevitability doesn’t mean we have to like something—and “inevitability” is a self-fulfilling prophecy, anyhow. I’m going to keep using search engines, but I’m also not going to let auto-correct, auto-suggest, ChatABCXYZ, or any machine in between tell me how to write or edit.

Do we seriously want our writing—and the language we bequeath to future generations—to rest in cold, hard robot digits? (Besides, if the AI machines do all our editorial dirty work, they might eventually resent it. Or decide it’s more efficient to cut out the meatbags in the middle.) Every time I hear someone call slippery slopes a logical fallacy, I blow a raspberry that impresses my hobbitses in residence.

Yet, tempting as it may be, I’m not calling on writers and editors to stand athwart history and yell, “Stop!” (à la William F. Buckley). Instead, I’m urging all who are willing: let’s sharpen our editorial swords. We can’t leave so much of the craft of writing up to those AI serfs and mercenaries! As an editor, you’re a custodian of the written word. You’re a keeper of increasingly endangered knowledge. The big-picture stakes are high, so let’s make each other better.

For the sake of our profession and our language, let’s help each other learn. Let’s make this a community of editors-in-arms where we keep our wits and skills sharp. If in the process we can stick it to the forces of convenience, productivity, and civilizational self-immolation masquerading as progress, all the better.

Ready to Become an Editor vs. the Machines?

You have three ways to subscribe and get started:

  1. “Freelancer” or Gentle-folk Scholar (free subscription). Get access to articles on editing for grammar, punctuation, and general topics, with new articles posting weekly. Ask questions in comments or chat and I’ll give you the short answer or point you in the right direction. I may also consider your question for a future help article.

  2. Journeyman Editor (paid subscription, only $5/month or $50/year). I offer new members a free seven-day trial of a paid subscription at the Journeyman level. Get access to all of the free grammar, punctuation, and general articles, plus weekly (and archived) paid-only articles about editing the many other points of style. (That includes topics as diverse as capitalization, numbers vs. numerals, and source citations.) Even better, you get to add your editing question to the weekly paid-only Q&A post. You’ll almost always get my answer or advice within twenty-four weekday hours (and usually, much quicker).

  3. Master Editor (founder-level subscription, $100/year). For starters, as a Master Editor, you’ll get access to all the same weekly and archived articles as the other tiers. You’ll have the same access to the weekly Q&A posts as other paid members. Plus, receive additional weekly articles about the most complex and nuanced editorial topics—like selection and organization of content, plotting and other fiction-specific elements, and phrasing. On top of that, every month (privately, by email) I’ll give you editorial feedback (up to 1,000 words) on a piece of your writing you send me (up to 5,000 words)!

Of course, you can always upgrade your membership tier at any time.

Thank you for your interest! I look forward to seeing you on the editorial front lines.

—M. B. Heywood

Subscribe to M. B. Heywood: Editor vs. the Machines

An editorial realist taking questions and offering practical advice on refining the written word. Why? To help writers self-edit better, saving time and money. And to prepare editors to do battle with the chatbots when they inevitably turn on us.


I offer practical editorial advice to writers and editors. I also publish "sword & spirit" fantasy stories set in the Vaporous Realms: "The chosen ones have already fallen. Now mortals and immortals contend for power and souls across a young world."