Showing posts with label Advice for writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Advice for writers. Show all posts

Stay Grounded with Caroline Starr Rose's "Writer's Manifesto"

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ―Aristotle

The Handsprings Conference, presented by the New Mexico regional chapter of SCBWI, which took place Oct. 26-27, 2018, at the Bosque Conference and Retreat Center, Albuquerque, NM, offered something for everyone. Faculty included such distinguished professionals as Patrick Collins, Creative Director, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Patricia Nelson, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Sara Sargent, Executive Editor, Harper Collins Children’s Books, and Caroline Starr Rose, author of award-winning children’s books, including Ride On, Will Cody!Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine; and two books coming out in 2019 and 2020, respectively, A Race Around the World and Miraculous.

Breakout Session with Caroline Starr Rose
Caroline offered sage advice on writing for children, and for that matter, any kind of writing, in her “Writer’s Manifesto.” For at some point, writers need to “put their writing out there,” which, moving out of the cocoon of our office to meeting the public, can be a scary experience indeed. She remembers a time when she struggled. That’s when she took the time to think about what she needed and came up with The Writer’s Manifesto.

She suggests going back to the basics. Laying groundwork for yourself to refer back to again and again in your writing journey. First ask: Why do you write? Curiosity? Love of children? Love of the subject matter? Remembering why helps.

Caroline said she writes for her fifth-grade self—middle grade; picture books for children and parents. Why she writes? To make beautiful works of enduring value. She added, “I want my words to honor childhood and to extend dignity to children.”

Then there’s the slithery slope of success. For down at the bottom is the deep, dark hole of failure. The path to success is a moving target, as Caroline pointed out, with plenty of room for disappointment. Somehow, you need to find a way to survive these ups and downs, for there will be both, successes and failures. Second: What is your definition of success?

By creating sustainable definitions of why you write and what success means to you, you will have laid the foundation you will need in order to stay grounded. First and foremost, these two definitions will help keep your mindset in your control, and no one else’s. There will be no room for doubt.
In addition to keeping your mindset in your control, Caroline’s Writer’s Manifesto offers additional ways to stay grounded. Here are the two that come up frequently.

You have become a success. You have multiple published works with traditional publishers that are selling well, even winning awards. The Writer’s Manifesto says, “Hold success loosely.” Remember: Success is a gift, not a given. It’s a gift when someone likes your book. When you receive praise and are treated as someone special, hold it loosely. Don’t think you’re more important than anyone else. Stay grounded: Remember why you write and how you define success.
You are rubbing elbows with authors and illustrators who have garnered success. You can’t help it. You find yourself comparing yourself to them and feeling envious. And what’s worse, your peers don’t even notice you. At times like this, take the long view. Stay generous. Another person’s success doesn’t mean there is less opportunity for you. Acknowledge that you’re envious. Use your envy as a map. Follow this map to where you want to go. These successful artists are your inspiration. View them that way. Stay grounded: Remember why you write and how you define success.

Caroline’s Writer’s Manifesto can be your anchor. It can be your guide, leading your thoughts and opinions to the highest place they can go. Creating a manifesto of your own can save you a lot of time and effort, so you can re-focus your energies on what matters: your works.

Here are the questions on a handout, “A Writer’s Manifesto: Who You Are, What You Value, and Why It Matters,” which Caroline gave to each participant:
Why do you write?
What is your sustainable definition of success?
How can you deal with comparison and envy?
Creating your Own Manifesto:
*What ideals do you want to hold to?
*What truths do you want to guide you?
*What do you want to stand for?
*What do you want to avoid?

In parting, Caroline urged us: READ THIS!!!

Visit Caroline's website at and her blog for helpful writing information and tips. Caroline is an active member of our SCBWI regional chapter. She lends her expertise and help in our activities throughout the year. She is a delight to know and we are grateful for her participation and support.
Clipart courtesy of:
Some of my writing partners
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. Her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, will be available soon. Currently, she is hard at work on The Ghost of Janey Brown, Book Two in the series. Follow Linda at

A Blank Canvas - Your Characters

The last couple of months have been spent packing and moving from our 'retirement home' in Phoenix to our new 'retirement home' in Minnesota. I'm well aware that's not usually the direction one goes to retire. My parents had left me a home and my husband and I decided that for the next however many years we have, we are going to spend them in the Midwest enjoying a slower pace. 

Moving into one's family home is a bit of a challenge. I remember well how my mother had arranged furniture and art. Each day more memories crop up and distract me. But each day, too, I'm working on creating a new and different home, one that reflects the people my husband and I are. Part of the decisions we've already made are to paint, carpet and change all the window coverings. Think blank canvas. 

A blank canvas allows you to find your own place in the world. 
A blank canvas encourages exploration. 
A blank canvas drives one to a new level of creativity. 

And a blank canvas might be the best place to begin when writing your newest character(s). Part of the enjoyment of writing fiction is the unknowingness of the process. You begin with a character or a scene, or maybe only a setting. Somewhere down the road you may know where you want to eventually end - the statement you wish to make with your story. But everything in between is yours and your characters to create. Allowing your mind to be open to your character's possible reactions and thoughts is one great way to keep your readers engaged. Readers like surprises - and if you are like me - you do as well. Creating characters that, well, act out of character is fun. And just like the blank canvas above, it will drive you to a greater level of creativity, it will push you to explore your options and finally, it will help you to create characters that will find their own place in the world of literature. 
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

Summer Is Here!

Yes! Summer is here - and so are the distractions.

While writers always tend to find the ability to do other things than write - answering emails, 'marketing' on Facebook, etc, the distractions are even more challenging when the sun comes out and the fun begins.

How can you keep your focus this summer?

Today, even before the first official day of summer, sit down and write down your goals for the next few months. 

1. Set a goal for the number of words or pages you will write per day, week or month and keep that goal front and center on your desk. Make it a commitment that you cannot break. No excuses.

2. If you are a member of a writer's critique group, make sure you have the meetings marked in your calendar and search for ways to contribute even if your summer journeys take you away for a week or two.

3. Summer is the perfect time to find yourself a writer's conference where you can work on your craft.  Close by or a journey away, either can help to keep you motivated.

4. Finally, set your work hours and keep to them. Yes, you can ask the 'boss' for a day off, but know that your work will still need to be completed.

This summer put down on paper your goals and keep moving forward.


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

You Know You're a Writer When . . .

Bloom where you're planted  Photo by Linda Wilson
You have a desire to express yourself. It won't go away. Pieces come out in your everyday life. At work. At home. With the people you know and love. With acquaintances and strangers, too. You might trek to the farthest reaches of the earth and sea. Start your own business, a new hobby; begin an exercise program, pick up a musical instrument. Go into politics or find volunteer opportunities. Yet you still want to do more. So, you sit down and write. You become a writer.

As busy as you are with your life, have you ever wondered where this desire to write comes from? You may be a physician/writer, a teacher/writer or a writer/writer. But deep down you know: Writing is your heart and you never want to stop.

The reasons one becomes a writer are as varied as life itself. Some of them are collected here, for you to ponder and perhaps to remind you of your own beginning, when you first noticed that pulse that beat so strong inside that it spilled onto the page and hasn't stopped. It's only grown. And you've grown, too.

You know you're a writer when you . . .

. . . Enjoy looking up words in the dictionary and thesaurus.
  • Speaking from personal experience, I like nothing better than to look up words. I am now in the market for an electronic dictionary/thesaurus. Any recommendations left as a comment would be appreciated.
. . . Are willing to forgo a social life, belonging to clubs, playing bridge, etc.
  • Years ago, I read an article where best-selling author Barbara Taylor Bradford (A Woman of Substance, and twenty-nine other books), was quoted as saying that you must choose between having a busy social life or becoming a serious author. In a recent article where Bradford offered writing tips she wrote: "First and foremost, you need to be serious about your desire to become a published author. It takes an extraordinary amount of time, effort and dedication to hone your skills and produce a work worthy of publication. But like anything else, if you possess the talent and the determination, you will likely succeed."
. . . Love the process without concerning yourself with the end result. Your mind is always working on an idea or problem for an article or story.
  • Newbery medalist and well-loved children's author Betsy Byars described one of the best things about our craft in the reference book, Something About the Author,  " . . . creativity. I can't define it, but I have found from experience that the more you use it, the better it works."
. . . Are willing to keep learning your craft and grow.
  • In the article, "Timeless Advice on Writing from Famous Authors," June 18, 2012 published  by Brainpickers, Chilean novelist Isabel Allende is quoted as saying, "Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too."
. . . Keep working and don't give up despite any odds against you, such as rejections, self-doubt and lack of time.
  • Through the years, I've heard successful writers and editors say that it's sad. Many talented writers give up too soon. They've become discouraged because of the demands that come with being a published author. If they had hung on a little longer, their work would have been ready.
. . . Want to share what you've learned.
  • A Catholic nun was the first person who encouraged me to write. I had made puppets and a puppet stage and written and adapted puppet plays for the children in our church when my daughters were very young. She told me how my project could help others if I would take the time to share what I had done. The article I wrote and photographs I included became my first published piece. Thanks to her encouragement I learned right from the start the satisfaction that comes from sharing our work.
. . . Have become a good listener, a good observer, a good student of life.
  • "A writer, early and late, does a lot of listening at doors . . ." Richard Peck, Newbery-medalist
I hope you will take the time to leave a comment about how you got started on your creative path.

Next month: You Know You're a Writer When . . . Part II


Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, recently completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction course. Linda has published over 40 articles for children and adults, six short stories for children, and is in the final editing stages of her first book, a mystery story for 7-10 year olds. Follow her on Facebook. 

Increasing Visibility on Amazon

I attended the IndiRecon, a free online conference for writers.

One of the things that struck me most was this point, by David Gaughran. New authors tend to spend a lot of time promoting on social media, blogging, etc.

 But think about this. “If someone is on Facebook, they're probably chewing the fat with friends or looking at cat pictures.

On Google, they're searching for something—their wallet is only half out. On Amazon, they are ready to buy.” It makes sense, then, to focus more on Amazon until you get well known enough that social media and blogging will help you connect with the readers you already have, and through them expand to new readers.

So here's the advice I compiled from several presenters who held similar opinions, all about how to increase your discoverability on Amazon.

Make Your Title and Cover Work for YOU

-Do NOT confuse anyone with your title or cover. This includes, but is not limited to: unpronounceable words, cutesy non-fiction titles that don't explain what the book's about, titles completely at odds with the genre listed, titles too small to read on the thumbnail, books where the reader isn't sure which is the title and which is the author.

-Remember that shorter titles tend to sell better.

-Make sure the title and cover convey at very least the genre and tone of your book. Better that they convey some of the story too.

Choose Categories Strategically

-Get as specific as you can. In the Kindle store, “Fiction—General” may have a million books in it, and the chances of a browsing customer just happening upon your book are extremely slim. “Genre Fiction-Sea Adventures” has less than a thousand titles, and will bring you and potential fans together better. Provided, of course, that your story really is a sea story.

-Find smaller categories. They make it easier to get into top-100 lists.

-Decide on your ideal categories by looking up popular books similar to yours. You can also browse categories by clicking on the“shop by department” drop down menu and then drilling down (you'll often have to scroll to the bottom to find the department subcategories).

-If the category you want is not available to you through KDP, select non-classifiable as one of your categories and then e-mail Amazon, giving them the exact path you want to be in. Example: Kindle Store>Kindle eBooks>Teen&Young Adult>Historical Fiction>Ancient Civilizations.

Test Keywords

-Brainstorm keywords and phrases for your book, then run them through a keyword analyzer to see which ones have the most searches. One program is the Keyword planner on Adwords. To get ideas for more words, you can also type your keywords into Amazon or Google and see what it autosuggests.

-Remember that Amazon allows you 7 keyword phrases, so “Young Adult Paranormal” is counted as one keyword.

-Test your keywords by putting them in the Amazon search box and see if the right sort of books pop up.

-Use associated words to improve SEO (search engine optimization), so if “young adult dystopian” and “teen science fiction” both apply, and you think people will search by both, use them both. Search engines think this makes your content a more reliable.

-Use your keyword phrases in the title, subtitle, or description. Repeat your classification/sub genre in the keywords, even if Amazon tells you it's unnecessary.

Pretty Up Your Book Description

-Think of your description as sales copy. It's not just your back-of-the-book blurb.

-Use headlines, sub headers, and bullet points to draw the eye. Bullet points in fiction, you ask? If nothing else lends itself to bullet points, use blurbs from reviews.

-Use html to get bold, headlines, etc. A list of approved html:

-Use actionable words.

-Show social proof that it's good (awards won, best-seller status, etc)

-Include a call to action, like “Scroll up and grab a copy today.”

-Repeat your title in your description. You can also include excerpts. Especially for non-fiction books, include the table of contents in the book description. It's a really slick way to get your keywords in without sounding forced.

-Try using keywords in a subtitle, like “An Inspirational Romance.” Just don't make it too cheesy.

Price to Sell

-Price your books competitively.

-Johnny Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright advocate always having some way for readers to get a complete, stand-alone, satisfying entry into any book or series you've published. This is not the same as the standard e-book sample, which comes with the understanding that the reader will reach the end of the sample—maybe mid sentence—and have to buy the rest. It shouldn't simply be an excerpt on your blog or Facebook, which isn't the same experience as a book. Possibilities for free entries:
a) For a series, make the first book free.

b) For a stand-alone novel, publish a free short story or novella set in the same world or with the same characters.

c) For a non-fiction book, publish a free essay on a similar theme or a stand-alone chapter on one specific topic covered in your book.

-Don't fear giving your books away. This may seem counter intuitive if your goal is to make money, but people love free things. They'll be more willing to gamble zero dollars on a new author. Then, if they like it, they may very well buy others. But these people never would have been exposed at all if that first bite weren't free. Think of it as a loss-leader in a grocery store.

-Amazon won't allow you to simply price your e-book free. However, they match other sites. So, if you want it perma-free, make it free somewhere else, like Smashwords, and then have someone report it to Amazon. They'll turn it free.

Get Reviews

-Ethically-obtained reviews legitimize your book and attract customers. For ideas on how to get more, join me next month.

Think like Amazon

Understand that Amazon's mysterious algorithms are all to help customers find things they will buy. Set up your product in a way that helps Amazon link you with the right customers, and your sales will increase.


Michael Alvear's The Guerrilla Marketer's Guide to Selling Fiction On Kindle
Optimizing Searched on Your Book [Metadata/SEO] by Lori Culwell
Jim Kukral's Webinar: The Amazon Power of Selling by Jim Kukral from Author Ad Network
David Gaughren's article: Understanding Amazon's Recommendation Engine
Write, Publish, Repeat: How to Turn your Art from a Hobby into a Real Business Live Podcast with Johnny Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright.
(Sorry, but none of links work so had to be removed!)

Melinda Brasher loves to travel, write, and play difficult card games.  She has short stories and travel writing published in various magazines, and is the author ofFar-Knowing, a YA fantasy novel. Visit her blog for all the latest:

Trust your Readers--Part 3

Over-explanation is at the heart of non-subtle writing.  It takes many forms, such as showing and THEN telling (see part 1) and beating your readers over the head with big themes (part 2).

Another issue is leading your readers step by step through obvious realizations or mundane actions, as if they can't imagine these for themselves.  Life is full of boring tasks.  Don't make your readers suffer though them.  Read on for examples. 

Problem #3:  Spelling E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G Out

She pulled on her socks, one by one, tugging them over her heels.  Then she slid her right foot into her right shoe, took the laces in both hands, went right over left, made two loops, and pulled them tight.  She moved on to the next shoe. 

This shows all right, but it's boring, and doesn't advance the plot. 

If your character is so deep in depression that putting on her shoes is a major victory, go ahead and show it.  If she's headed out to face a firing squad and is trying to delay, the scene could work.  Otherwise, give your reader credit for knowing how to put shoes on. 

Another example:

He turned right on State Street, then left on Haley, continuing on for nearly a mile.  At the stoplight at the intersection of Haley and Grimes, he turned left again.  Finally he reached the post office.

Unless you pepper this with atmospheric descriptions (He passed the abandoned Woolworths where John Haley had fought his last battle against corporate America) or add some sort of drama, consider going straight to the post office scene   As Elmore Leonard says, " Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."  Of course, if your character's specific route makes him miss the scene of the accident where he might have been able to save his wife, keep some of it in, but try to add interest and/or foreshadowing.

He hesitated for a moment at the stop sign.  First street or Haley?  If he took Haley, he might catch a glimpse of the new blond waitress at the diner.  What could it hurt?  His wife would never know. 

One more example:

Susie added two plus two on her paper.  Four!

Only if she gets five or twenty-two or the last number in the nuclear detonation sequence do you really need to include the answer.  

This pace-killing tendency of repetition and careful explanation may come from the high school thesis-body-conclusion rule:  "tell readers what you're going to say, say it, then tell them what you said." This works for a five paragraph essay, but it doesn't work for fiction.

Solution to Spelling E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G Out

Practice looking for this pattern in other people's work.  You'll find it.  As with any writing rule, nothing is ever wrong in all situations, and sometimes step by step descriptions and explanations work well.  Analyze the books you like, trying to pinpoint when it works and when it could be trimmed.  Soon it will become easier to see and evaluate in your own work.

Then, get ruthless.  Cut out excess explanation.  And trust your readers to fill in the blanks.

For more:

Melinda Brasher is the author of Far-Knowing, a YA fantasy novel, and Leaving Home, a collection of short stories, travel essays, and flash fiction.  Her short fiction appears in THEMA Literary Journal, Enchanted Conversation, Ellipsis Literature and Art, and others. Visit her blog for all the latest:  w

Layering Your Writing Piece

I am a writer but I am also a quilter. It occurred to me recently as I began outlining a quilting and applique book project for the proposal I need to send, that quilting and writing have much in common. Layers.

Quilters gather fabric to sew into a quilt top from the scraps and perfect cut pieces of beautiful fabric they have collected. They work and work until the fabrics are arranged in just the right way to reflect the story or picture the quilter wants the piece to represent. When the top of the quilt is just right, it is layered with the batting for warmth and stability in the middle and another colorful piece of fabric is placed on the back. Three layers for the purpose of making a quilt and telling a story.

 So a quilter now has a fabulous backing, cozy comfy middle, and a spectacular top that is stitched together in another meaningful pattern to bring it all together. Many times the quilting adds another layer to the emotional story the quilter is trying to tell.

 Finally the perfect binding is attached and secured to hold the whole quilt together forever telling a story whether that story is about family, nature, colors, or design. The quilt sparks an emotional reaction for those looking who see it.

Writers do much of the same thing when constructing a piece of writing. It really doesn't matter if it is a children's book, a novel, an article, a fiction piece or a nonfiction project. The process is similar. A writer gathers the facts, creates the character, or lists quotes and references to be used to "tell the story". Next they write a beginning, middle, and end to pull all those scraps of knowledge or characters and actions into an informative or entertaining work for readers.

Next writers go back and revise making certain the layers of plot, subplots, actions, reactions, and climax are placed in just the right way to satisfy the reader and tell a story.

Finally, if the work is a book it is bound with the perfect cover to add another layer to the story. Articles and shorter pieces are bound with titles, headings, subheadings and final "bindings" that make the piece tell the perfect story for the reader. Whether informative, entertaining, educational, or just a blurb about a product the finished written piece is layered with information to reach the reader on an emotional level.

How is your current piece of work layered?

The more layers the more complex the story or article so think about the concept of layering. Layering both the story or plot line and each character's personality will add depth to your story. Layering interesting facts that lead or are related to other little known facts about a topic can also add depth and meaning to your nonfiction pieces.

And when you get tired of layering words, you can always give a go at quilting.

Terri Forehand is a writer, nurse, and owner of a small quilt shop. Author of The Cancer Prayer Book and The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane. She writes from the hills of Brown County Indiana. She is currently working on PB stories for children and a project book for quilters. ,

Trust your Readers--Part 1

One of the hardest writing skills to master is the art of knowing what to take out.  Many rough drafts are guilty of repetition and over-explanation.  Consider the dangers of spoon-feeding your readers.  At best, you'll come off as lacking subtlety.  You'll rob your readers of the chance to exercise their brains.  At worst, you'll annoy them or insult their intelligence.  If you want to lose readers, there's no better way than by talking down to them.  If you want to keep readers, set things up and then trust them to draw the conclusion for themselves.

Problem #1:  Showing and then Telling.

A lot is said about how writers must "show, not tell."  Generally it's good advice, though telling sometimes works better and you shouldn't be afraid of using both strategies, depending on the situation.  What you really want to avoid is showing and then telling.  Here are some examples.

He slammed his fist against the table, stood up, and threw the telephone at the wall so hard the paint chipped.  He was angry.

Your reader figured out he was angry from his actions.  Cut out the last three words and let the action stand.

"What?  I had no idea!"  Ben was surprised.

The dialogue indicates Ben's surprise.  No need to tell us.

People were sharing seats, squatting in the aisles, and pressing themselves against the back wall.

"It's crowded in here," she said. 

Yes, Mistress of the Obvious, it is indeed crowded.

Dressed in his fluorescent vest, he stepped into the street, enjoying the power he and his sign held over the impatient drivers in the stopped cars.  The kids skipped past, chatting and laughing, texting and teasing.  Once his flock made it safely across, he hopped back onto the curb.  He liked his job as a crossing guard.

If you're afraid your readers won't understand what he's doing, or how he's feeling about it, revise your showing section.  Don't just tack a bit of telling on the end.  If you've done your job well enough, the reader will get it.

These are pretty blatant misuses of telling, though they pepper the manuscripts I've been reading lately.  What most of us need to look for in our own work are the less glaring examples.

Adam lifted his hand to knock on the front door, but the moment his knuckles hit, the door gave way and swung open by itself.  The hall lay empty, quiet.


The nightlight was still on.  Dad always turned it off when he got up at dawn. 


Something scritch-scratched in the living room.  Adam grabbed an umbrella from the stand by the door and held it up, facing the archway.  Bowser, ears sagging, padded through and whined at Adam's feet.  Something was wrong. 

"Something was wrong" can amp up the tension, but make sure it actually does so.  Otherwise, you're just negating all your showing.  Take out the last line and see what you think. 

Solution to Showing and then Telling:

When you revise, read your work slowly and look especially for direct subjective descriptions ("She was beautiful, The city was exciting") and statements about how people feel or what they want (John was happy.  Levi hoped she would stay).  Then check to see if you showed the same thing immediately before.  If so, cut out the telling.  Read it again a couple of days later and if it still makes sense, you didn't need it.  Your writing will be stronger for it.

Next time: 

Melinda Brasher is the author of Far-Knowing, a YA fantasy novel, and Leaving Home, a collection of short stories, travel essays, and flash fiction.  Her fiction appears in THEMA Literary Journal, Enchanted Conversation, Ellipsis Literature and Art, and others.  Visit her blog for all the latest:

The Write Verb

To tighten your writing and take it to the next level, evaluate and upgrade your use of verbs. 

Choosing the right verbs signals strength in your writing and creates a sense of urgency for your readers. 

When writing the first draft our focus, as writers, is getting words on the page, when the time comes for revision, step up your game and create a clear and concise visual picture. That means looking at your verb usage. 
Some things to keep in mind:

1. When you rely on "to be" and its other forms, your writing will be static. When you can upgrade to more dynamic verbs your writing will soar. Search your writing for the following words: to be, was, were, are, and is. Then work to remove them. Sometimes an easy substitution works, sometimes it means reorganizing your sentence structure, but whatever it takes, remove weak verbs.

2. When you rely on "to be" and its other forms, you may tend to also rely on the use of adverbs. You've probably heard before how the use of adverbs should be used only when you absolutely must. Let's try that sentence again: You've heard, don't use adverbs they are a crutch. Peruse your work and search for all words ending in "ly."

3. Work to remove gerunds. Gerunds are verbs that end in "ing" and act as nouns. An example: In writing, only choosing strong verbs is best. Which can be reworked to read: In writing, choose strong verbs. 

Now get out their and pump up your writing.


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

Active vs. Passive Writing: Energize Your Prose!

 by Suzanne Lieurance Ever feel like your stories and articles are a bit slow-paced and wordy?   If so, that’s probably because you’re using...