Showing posts with label writing advice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing advice. Show all posts

A Writer's Bucket and Mop List

"The key is not spending time,
but in investing in it."
                               Stephen R. Covey

What is the first thing you want to do in the morning when you get up? If you’re like me, you want to write. But there are so many other things to do, even for retired folks like me! Often, writing—composing—doesn’t happen until nighttime when the dishes are done and the house is quiet.

Throughout the day while wishing I could be writing, I dream. My dream goes something like this (in order of preference):

 I could write right now if only I had:

  • an on-call massage therapist
  • a nanny (when I still had kids at home)
  • a maid
  • a cook
  • a secretary
  • a research assistant
  • a dedicated media specialist
  • an errand runner
  • a personal trainer
  • a gardener
  • a dog walker

Then when nighttime comes, I realize I am all those things. I do something from most if not all the items on my list every day. 

Make Your Life Your Inspiration

A humorist writer friend of mine once told me about challenges her husband faced at his job. About what was going on with each of her three sons. About her own life and lack of time to get anything done.

But she told me she wouldn't trade her life for the world. If it weren't for the angst in her family, she wouldn't have anything to write about.

I've never forgotten my friend’s insight. It's a lesson I cherish every day. If I had too much time to write, my need wouldn't be as urgent. I may not be as motivated. I may not have those few hours of pure bliss to look forward to each day.

Once I tried doing nothing but write all day, every day. I soon found that my life became so narrow, the energy I had once stored up for writing projects had withered away. I ran out of ideas. My page became as blank as my life.

Balance. That is the answer. Find a proper balance and that will solve everything. Good luck with that. Balance turned out to be as fleeting as my sapped energy. I discovered lopsided is good. My solution: create space to write. Take time out each week to work on writing projects. Though even this plan sometimes seems impossible, if we stick to a schedule, no matter how small it may be at times, eventually we will finish our projects and go after publishing our work.

Gains and Losses

Since recently “putting to bed” a few book projects, I realize I am teetering on the brink of marketing them and jumping into my next writing project(s) with both feet. Here is the short version of what has happened to my life as I endeavor to reach my future writing goals.

Gains:

  • The many friends and acquaintances I've made that will surely remain a part of my future.
  • The sharpening of my skills.
  • Learning new things every day.
  • Being motivated enough to stay up late and still get up early.
  • The fun of sharing my hopes and dreams with others.
  • The feeling of accomplishment at completing such a challenging task as writing a book.
  • Keeping other interests alive to strive for less lopsidedness and more balance.
  • How much I've grown from reading and learning about different people and subjects.
  • Emotionally I feel I've grown, too, for it seems that understanding our own emotions and others' emotions is part of writing.
  • Being an entertainer.
  • The sheer fun of having an audience.
  • Enjoying the feeling of joy inside at all that writing has given me.

Losses:

  • No more time for sewing or photoscrapbooking.
  • Little time for socializing; having to say no to invitations to join clubs, play bridge, or loll around the pool.
  • Free time to simply curl up with a good book or watch TV, or do nothing.
  • Everything I do has to have a purpose in order to squeak out time to write.

Live a Life of Gratitude

The list of gains is long, losses is short. Like my humorist friend, I wouldn't trade this life for anything. Let us be grateful for the lives we've been given, which have brought us so willingly to the page and all we’ve gained from it, over and over again. 

Photo: By Linda Wilson

For more about time management visit: https://www.actitime.com/time-management-guide/time-management-covey-matrix

Secret in the Mist, Book 2
of the Abi Wunder Mystery series
will be available soon.

Linda Wilson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has two daughters who inspired her stories when they were younger. Linda is the editor of the New Mexico Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators newsletter, and has written posts for the Writers on the Move blog since 2013. She is a classical pianist and loves to go to the gym. But what Linda loves most is to make up stories and connect with her readers. Find out more by visiting Linda’s website at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

Writing Hint from Ray Bradbury

If you want to write, "You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads."

-Ray Bradbury


Melinda Brasher's next book comes out soon!  Cruising Alaska on a Budget is a guide for people who want the trip of a lifetime, but don't want to spend their entire life savings.  See more, or sign up for the mailing list at cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com

Sit Butt in Chair!


Sit Butt in Chair,
Sit Butt in Chair,
Sit Butt in Chair,

After years of thinking about writing and, every once in a while, actually writing, I decided to take a college course called, "Write your Novel." At the time I thought writing might be a great hobby. Something to do in my spare time after working a full time job and taking care of four children all still in school. (I know, what spare time, right?) I remember the advice from my my then college professor well. 'To write, sit butt in chair." That was it. 

Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair

Before that I would often 'write' stories in my head. I 'wrote' whenever bored - doing dishes, making beds, weeding, driving. I found lots of time to create stories, but actually writing them down seemed to be difficult. Then I took this class and I was encouraged to just 'sit butt in chair.' I found that the process meant I could write a novel length manuscript and still have a job and children.  All I had to do was find the time to: 
Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair
Sit Butt in Chair

Surprisingly, there are many opportunities to sit butt in chair.

A couple of years went by and I attended a writer's conference. There I heard someone else give this great piece of advice, "sit butt in chair.' Simple but effective they said, and I knew it was true. I have found to write all I need to do is 'sit butt in chair.' And when writing isn't happening, I know its because I have not come to the desk and sat down, nothing else is at fault. So make a habit of sitting your butt in chair and see what you can accomplish.  

What was the best piece of writing advice you've received? 
____________________________________________
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

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, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. 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 www.djeanquarles.com                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.



The Best Advice: 9 Writing Tips

Over my writing career I've received a lot of advice. Some of it good and some, well, less valuable. Here are the tips that I find myself sharing with others along the way:


  1. Writing: Just start. However you can, whenever you can, just do it. You will not be alone in seeing the blank page and panicking. We've all been there, done that. The first and most important action you can take is to sit down and begin.
  2. Writers' Block: Okay, this tags onto number 1. When you don't know what to write - write about that. I'm not sure where to begin. I could begin with the beginning, but I think it will take too long to then get to the action. Perhaps I should begin with the action like start with a really exciting sword fight. . . Suddenly you will find yourself writing. Put pen to paper, fingers to the keyboard and get started.
  3. Writing What You Know: I heard that a lot when I was first writing, but I really wanted to also write about things I wanted to learn about. A writing friend of mine learned how to harvest wheat by working on a farm in order to add that element to her story. Write what you know and/or what you want to know more about. Your interest and passion for your topic will transfer to the writing and, most importantly, to the reader.
  4. Show Don't Tell: This advice was another I heard often. So the difference between showing and telling? Telling: He was embarrassed. Showing: His ears turned red.
  5. Dialog: Go to the mall, the nearest coffee shop or stand in line and listen to conversations. People talk in short sentences. Conversation is a give and take. It should be no different in your story or novel.
  6. Characters: Everyone is flawed and complex so each of your characters should be as well. Yes, that includes the heroine, the hero and the villain. The heroine and hero will have flaws and the villain may have a gentle side. That is what makes them interesting. 
  7. Surprise the Reader: Every page should contain a surprise for the reader. Okay, what does that mean? Well, a word choice that is a bit different, a decision the reader won't see coming, a plot twist or a metaphor or simile that makes your reader smile. Something that will keep the reader turning the page. 
  8. Read out loud: One of the best ways to edit and find errors is through reading your work out loud. Find a quiet place and go for it. This will also help you to find areas where the dialog sounds stilted, where you've used the same word too close together or used words with the same sounds too close. (Using the same words or sounds is not bad in and of itself, only when it's done because of laziness.)
  9. Read, Read, Read: Writers should also be readers. 
Now what are you waiting for? Get to it.
_______________________________________
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Solem was released February 2016.

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, and the co-author of The Exodus Series: The Water Planet: Book 1 and House of Glass: Book 2. 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 www.djeanquarles.com                                      

You can also follower her on Facebook.


 




Taking Stock


The end of the year is upon us. Where did our time go? What happened to our goals? Our dreams?

All too often our ability to procrastinate has a way of getting us off track. All too soon the new year will be here, so now is a great time to review 2015 - and prepare for 2016.

If you had established goals last January, dig them out. If your goals were specific, you should have no difficulty determining how well you did. If they are more general, the answer may be more unclear, but it will provide guidance for next year's goal setting.

Review each goal and give your self a grade, then grade your work overall.

If you did not set goals last year, you can still review 2015. How did you do specifically in the following categories:

1. Writing:
     a. New work: Did you start at least one new long project? Many short projects each month?
     b. Editing: Did you work on editing your latest novel? Did you spend significant time editing your short pieces?
     c. Submitting/Publishing: Did you submit to magazines, agents, publishers your finished work(s)?

2. Marketing:
     a. Social Media: Did you work to keep your fans updated on your work on a regular basis? Posting to a variety of social media sites?
     b. Did you explore and develop places to share your writing in person? Local bookstores, libraries, or coffee shops?
     c. Did you keep your author's portfolio updated?

December is a great time to complete some of your unfinished projects and clear away the old to get ready for January and the new. Happy Holidays to all of you,
____________________________________

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 Serieswas 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 www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.



The Work of Editing



So you have probably all seen the images showing how much time is spent actually writing. Sad but true, that even when we, as writers are working at our best capacity, we still find ways to be distracted. 

I work in an office that is almost exclusively used for my writing, yet, still I find myself moving containers, getting my tea where it is handy, straightening books, etc. Moving, organizing, and preparing are as much a part of the writing process as actually putting my fingers on the keyboard. 

Of course, I must do a bit of thinking - although sometimes this is done well before I make my way to the studio to work. It is done in a bathtub, hammock or even in bed. Sometimes while walking, doing dishes or making beds. 

Finally, I get words onto the screen.

All too soon, the creative process is over and its time to edit. And that part of the process is exhausting - both in time and intensity of work.

Recently, I was asked to edit an autobiography. The original had been published in Guatemala and now the author was prepared to publish in the U.S. She had searched for an editor, someone who would edit lightly so as to leave her voice. I apparently made the cut and was trusted with the work. 

Editing a piece of writing that is being translated is in itself interesting. Verbs are generally inconsistent due to tense issues. Present and past tense met and merged throughout the document and had to be fixed. As she had requested, I was mindful in my editing to her voice as a native Guatemalan. One thing I found immediately, editing lightly allowed me to be less ruthless than I am generally with my own work, especially with word choice and in particular regarding verbs.  

Another challenge was homonyms. These were varied and kept me on my toes. I was also made mindful of cultural differences in how individuals referenced each other. 

As I worked to finished the initial portion of the project, I gave much thought to the amount of time, but also to the final product. Editing is a must, but with this project there was no need to agonize for word choice.

I came to realize that the editing process is really made up of several different evaluations.
1. General grammar:
    Checking for correct spelling, capitalization, and sentence structure.
2. Format:
    Line spacing, font and size type
3. Story or plot line:
    Does the story flow? Does it keep the reader's attention?
4. Word choice
    Strengthening verbs or other descriptions, reviewing metaphors and similes. 

Editing is in itself an effort of love, a love of the process. 
__________________________________________

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 Serieswas 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 www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook.


How to Avoid Exposition in Dialogue

Good dialogue can stick the reader right in the middle of the action.  It can reveal a lot about the characters and help pacing.  But writing dialogue can be tricky.

Today's pitfall is what I call "exposition in dialogue" or "dialogue for the benefit of the reader."  This is when two characters tell each other things they both already know and have no reason to talk about, just to give the reader important information.  It's unnatural and awkward and should generally be avoided.

Example of Exposition in Dialogue:

I'm going to exaggerate a little here to illustrate the point.

Scene:  Lila and Tom are brother and sister, both young adults.  They're together when Tom gets a phone call.  He hardly says anything, and when he hangs up, he turns to Lila.

"John Abernathy's dead."

"No," Lila said, sinking into a chair.  "John Abernathy is our grandfather.  He owned two canneries in Alaska, and I remember how bad they smelled.  Our mother fell out with him and we haven't seen him for ten years, but still, I can't believe it.  We didn't even know he was sick."  

Okay, so most of the examples in our writing aren't this bad, but I see less glaring cases all the time, and it's something we need to watch for.  These two people already know this information.  There's no reason they'd say it like this.

Solutions:

1)  Narrate.

"Grandpa John is dead."

"No," Lila said, sinking into a chair.  John Abernathy was their grandfather, but they hadn't seen him in years, not since he and their mother had fallen out.  They'd visited him once in Alaska, where he owned two canneries.  Lila could still smell the fish if she closed her eyes.  How could he be dead?  She hadn't even known he was sick.

2)  Argue.  Twist the conversation into an argument to give them a reason to discuss it.  Maybe your characters remember things differently.  Maybe they have different ideas about the consequences or the importance or the truth of the background information.

"Grandpa John is dead."

"No," Lila said, sinking into a chair.  "Mom's gonna be sorry now."

"It wasn't her fault they argued.  Grandpa--"

"That's just her side of the story.  We don't know what happened.  And she didn't have to cut him out of our lives completely.  Now we've lost all these years, and we'll never get them back."

"It wasn't exactly as if he was the best grandpa before, hiding himself away in Alaska.  He cared more about his canneries than he ever cared about us."

3)  Reminisce.  Have the characters take a walk down memory lane.  Be careful with this, however, as it can sound forced.

"Grandpa John is dead."

"No," said Lila, sinking into a chair.  "Dead?  He was strong as a bull."

"Ten years ago he was.  But things change."

"Remember the tour he gave us of his canneries in Alaska?"

"He let me chop the heads off the fish.  I thought it was the coolest thing."

"It was disgusting.  And the smell...but he was so proud of everything. I wish he and Mom hadn't fought.  Now it's too late.."

4)  Tell a character who doesn't know.  Bring a third character into the conversation, one who really doesn't know the information.  Use this sparingly, as it can also come across as too convenient and lazy on the author's part.

"John Abernathy's dead."

"No," Lila said, sinking into a chair.

"Who's John Abernathy?" Tom's girlfriend asked. 

"Our grandpa.  Mom's dad."

"I didn't know he was still around.  You never talk about him."

"We haven't seen him for years," Tom said.  "He does fish canning up in Alaska.  Mom had an argument with him a long time ago and wouldn't let us have anything to do with him."

"I'm so sorry."

More examples:

"Captain, if we get a whole in the hull, we'll sink!"

Uh...he's a pretty bad captain if he doesn't know this.

Solution:  be more specific:  "Captain, a whole that big will sink us in less than fifteen minutes." 


"As you know, Jake got married six months ago.  Now I can't talk to him without his wife hanging on his arm."

Solution:  rephrase to build on what the listener knows:  "Ever since Jake got married, I can't talk to him without his wife hanging on his arm."

Final Test:

When you think your dialogue is good, read it aloud.  That's often the best way to hear if something sounds unnatural.



Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go Nomad, International Living, Electric Spec, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite pieces, check out Leaving Home.  Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.


The Story that Needs to be Told--Patrick Ness

In A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, a monster tells young Conor three stories and then demands that Conor tell him a fourth story--his own story.

The monster's first tale is about a regent (a witch who wants to marry her own step-son to keep herself in power) and the rightful heir (a good ruler who we later discover committed a heinous and unnecessary act to assure himself the throne).

But Conor is confused.

"I don't understand.  Who's the good guy here?"

There is not always a good guy.  Nor is there always a bad one.  Most people are somewhere in between. 
Conor shook his head.  "That's a terrible story.  And a cheat." 
It is a true story, the monster said.  Many things that are true feel like a cheat.  Kingdoms get the princes they deserve, farmers' daughters die for no reason, and sometimes witches merit saving.  Quite often, actually.  You'd be surprised.
-From A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness 
inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd

The story is a good one.  It's the one Conor needs to hear, even if he doesn't understand yet.

Sometimes we as writers have to tell the story that demands to be told--even if it doesn't fit the patterns.  Even if it blurs lines and breaks rules.  Even if some people will call it a terrible story and a cheat.  

Because sometimes these are the most powerful.



Melinda Brasher loves visiting alternate worlds through books and exploring this world through travel. Check out her newest article on Go Nomad:  “Hunting Mushrooms in Wallachia.”  For some free short fiction, read “Stalked” on On the Premises or “A Learned Man” on Electric Spec.. Visit her online at melindabrasher.com


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 www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook

Trust your Readers--Part 2

Subtlety is important in good writing, and requires you to trust your readers to catch on to things.  In the first part of this series, we saw examples of problem #1:  showing and then telling.  Now we'll look at a bigger-picture problem.

Problem #2:  Beating Your Reader Over the Head with Big Themes

When you write, you need to make sure your readers understand—and remember—major elements in your story:  plot points, secondary characters, your hero's strengths and weaknesses, motivations, and what's at stake.  You will probably also be weaving in overall themes, questions, or messages.   

As with anything important, the temptation is to overemphasize these elements.  The result?  Beating your readers over the head. 

One common area this occurs is with character traits.  If, for example, you character is afraid of getting emotionally involved with other people, establish it well when you first reveal it, preferably through showing instead of telling, then give your readers credit for remembering.  Reinforce it with your character's actions now and then, as natural to the plot, but if you keep hammering it in, especially in narration, your reader will get annoyed.

Overall themes and messages can drown in repetition too.  If your character is a sickly, selfish, unhappy thing, and through the course of the book she starts helping and thus caring about other people, and slowly becomes healthier and happier, your reader will understand the connection.  You can reinforce it through specific things she does for others, and how she feels afterwards, but refrain from statements like "the selfish, unhappy, sickly woman had discovered that helping other people made her happy.  Her health had returned and her life had meaning."  Not only does this bang a frying pan on your reader's head; it ventures into the realm of preachiness.

If your aim is to influence readers, preaching is one of the least effective way to do so.  Nobody likes a lecture, but people do like good stories where characters make positive changes in their lives or suffer through mistakes that the readers might do well to avoid.  When readers sympathize with characters different from themselves, or learn about situations they knew nothing about, perspectives can change.  All this will only have a real effect, however, if the reader is left alone to make the connections.

There's often a fine line between overexplanation and underexplanation.  In trying to be subtle and cut out repetition, you can stray into underexplanation, something just as deadly.  You, as the writer, might not be the best judge of how much reminding is enough, since you know your ideas and characters so well.  This is where beta readers and critiquers come in so handy.

Solution to Beating your Reader Over the Head

Find several people who can read your entire manuscript carefully and give constructive feedback.  This may be a local critique group, fellow writers or avid readers you met online, or friends and family who will be honest yet kind and whose critiques won't ruin your relationship.  Ask them specifically to look for areas of repetition, and make careful note of them.

Add to their lists any other story elements you believe you may have hit home too hard.  Then sit down and read the whole book, cover to cover, within a few days.   Mark the page numbers where you touch on these ideas.  Then go back and trim, trim, trim.  

After you're all done, find a few people who have never read you book.  If it still makes sense to them, and communicates what you want it to, you've done your job well.    

Subtlety takes work, but it's vital for good writing.  As the famous saying goes, "If I'd had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."  Take the time to write that shorter, tighter, more subtle story, and you'll be rewarded. 

Next time: 

Last time: 




Melinda Brasher writes in many genres.  This month's issue of Spark Anthology (Volume IV) will include one of her science fiction short stories, about an ill-fated colonization project.  To get a 35% discount, use the code BRASHER-FRIENDS.  Offer expires January 31.  She is also the author of Far-Knowing, a YA fantasy novel, and Leaving Home, a collection of short stories, travel essays, and flash fiction.  Visit her blog for all the latest:  http://www.melindabrasher.com

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 www.djeanquarles.com

You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook

Striving to Be a Better Writer by Writing More

Do you write everyday? Do you make sure you get some writing time in each week, if not daily?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you should have noticed an improvement in your writing, and possibly an improvement in the speed at which you are able to write. But, that’s not all. You will also find it easier to think of topics to write about.

This is especially true if you do article marketing or ghostwrite articles for other writers, blogs, or businesses. The more articles you write, the better you’ll get at it. The more writing of any type you do, the better you’ll get, just like the adage, ‘practice makes perfect.’

But, what does it mean to get better at writing?

Structure

One aspect of writing improvement is the ability to create a well structured article or story. It should begin with an interesting or hooking introduction. The beginning lets the reader know what the piece will be about. And, it should move smoothly into the middle. You might think of the beginning as the appetizer to a meal.

The middle is the content substance. You let the reader know what the story will be about in the beginning, the middle follows through and embellishes on the topic. The middle is the meat and potatoes of the story or article, and it should move smoothly into the ending, or conclusion.

The ending wraps things up. It should wrap up any loose ends and tie the piece up into a nice package. It needs to leave the reader satisfied. You can think of the ending as the dessert.

The more you write, the easier it becomes to create content that is well structured and smooth.

Focus

Another aspect writers strive for in their writing is clarity. Along with a well structure piece, you need it to be clear, easily understood. It needs to have focus.

Think of your story as having a road map. You need to get from point A to point C (beginning, middle, and end) with as little deviation as possible. Your reader is following you down the road and you don’t want to lose him.

If you give your reader any reason to pause or divert his attention from the main point of your story, you’ll lose him. People have a short attention span today; they want the information as quickly as possible and with as little effort as possible.

If you write non-fiction and your topic is about health, don’t go off on a tangent about today’s political climate, unless it’s in regard to the stress it adds to your everyday life, and thus the harmful effects it has on your health.

The more you write, the easier it becomes to create content that is focused and lean.

The Writing Time Issue

There are a number of writers who give themselves daily writing quotas. Some may choose thirty minutes a day, others 500 to 1000 words per day. There are also those writers who feel too pressured having to fulfill a daily writing quota, so they choose to create weekly quotas, or just set time aside for writing.

One problem just about every writer faces is time. Even if you work from home, by the time you read and respond to your emails, keep up with your blogs, do your social networking, and keep up your family and household duties, the day can just slip away. That’s why it’s so important to have some kind of weekly writing plan or schedule in place and do your best to stick to it.

Bottom line, if you’re a writer it’s important to write regularly, if not every day, as often as you can. As with any craft, the more you practice or work at it, the better you’ll get.

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MORE ON WRITING

How to Choose the Right Editor
Conflict is Key
Imagery and Your Story

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To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free webinars, join us in The Writing World (top right top sidebar).

Karen Cioffi
Multi-award Winning Author, Freelance/Ghostwriter, Editor, Online Marketer
Writer’s Digest Website of the Week, June 25, 2012

http://karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com
http://karencioffifreelancewriter.com


How to Choose the Right Editor



From a reader’s and reviewer’s point-of-view, books need a professional editor.

Why do books need a professional editor?

Authors are too close to the project to be able to pick up everything, especially if the author is self-publishing their book. Self-editing doesn’t work; many books and author’s sites have errors in grammar and punctuation as books and a web site visited today.

How to choose the right one to work with

  1. Authors need to talk with, and ask questions of the editor they choose to work with to see if the read and understand the genre of your book
·         Have they edited in the genre?
·         Can you and the editor work together?
·         Will the editor accept your input?
·         Are they willing to keep you abreast of how the project is progressing?
·         Does the editor have an estimate of how long it will take to edit?
·         Can you agree on a price that is acceptable to both parties?

  1. The editor should send the author an edited copy for review/proofread.
·         The final say is the author’s responsibility.
·         The editor shouldn’t have changed, but strengthened the sentences.
·         The editor should have corrected any grammar or punctuation errors.
·         The editor should have used Word’s Track Changes.
·         Any questions the editor has should be addressed using Word’s Comment feature.
  1. After the edited copy is proofread by the author:
·         The author and editor should agree on the changes.
·         If the editor suggested a word change, the author and editor should agree.
·         Talking with the editor should be like talking to a friend helping your book be the best it can be.
·         Once the final edits are completed and both parties are satisfied, then the final edited copy is ready for publication.

There should never be harsh feelings about your book with an editor; the editor is there to help the author create a book that is the best copy possible. 

Readers deserve the best book authors and editors are capable of creating. From an ethical standpoint, authors need to offer only their best to their readers.

Robert Medak
Freelance Writer/Blogger/Editor/Proofreader/Reviewer/Marketer

Don’t Depend 100% on Your Publisher

By Terry Whalin (@terrywhalin) In 2007, America’s Publicist Rick Frishman invited me to participate on the faculty of MegaBook Marketing Uni...