• Charles Dickens,  Craft,  Discipline,  Revising and Editing,  Uncategorized

    Top 10 Signs You’ve Given TMI & Need to Cut The Dickens Out Of Your Backstory by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

    You are not Charles Dickens. As much as you may want  to be Victorian, champion for the London’s most needy, and father 10 children, that doesn’t give you the right to overwrite your novels. That is, if you intention is to sell them in today’s market, you may want to reconsider how much backstory you have and how you may want to cut it. In today’s market, there are general guidelines for genres. Writer’s Digest has a nice article that breaks it down for your use. But these are general guidelines. Anyone who self-publishes can basically do whatever they want. And if you look hard enough, you’ll find exceptions to nearly ever…

  • Craft

    How The “There Are No Rules” Rule Can Set You Up For Failure & Mockery

    I’m not sure who started the “there are no rules in writing” rule. It certainly wasn’t an English teacher. There ARE rules. Rules for grammar, spelling, and punctuation bring order and dignity to our language. There are also rules for storytelling, rules for submissions, rules of common sense, rules of general communication that YOU MUST follow if you want to be taken seriously.  If you are a writer then your job is to communicate to your reader. If you are deliberately being sloppy, apathetic or lazy then the message you’re sending to your reader is “I’m above the rules” or “You’re too stupid” or “Conventions aren’t for geniuses like me.”…

  • Craft

    Why Your Spell Checker Is A Shifty-Eyed Hack

    You can’t trust your spell checker. Generally speaking, a spell checking feature on a word processing program will do a fair job in finding words that are misspelled. That’s all it’s capable of doing. If you think that an automatic spell check will do enough work to make you a good writer, then you are mistaken. Your spell check is a hack — in that, it only does what it is programmed to do. And I’d even go as far to say that it’s shifty-eyed (if it had eyes) because good writers know not to trust automatic editing tools completely. You’re going to need a bigger and better self-editing tools,…

  • Craft,  Reading,  Uncategorized

    Seven Reasons Why You Should Read Your Manuscript Out Loud

      Have you ever read your work out loud? Long before you submit your work to your beta readers, before you assume that you’re done, before you start thinking about renting that billboard to advertise your latest literary genius, you should read your manuscript out loud. Start at page one. Finish at “The End.” And listen. And keep a red pen handy to make notes. I’m completely convinced that you’ll make a lot of notes. I’m convinced that you’ll hear far more errors than you’ll ever see. Reading aloud reveals everything. This is why you should read your manuscript out loud: You’ll hear words repeated. We all have writing habits that need…

  • Uncategorized

    A Writer’s Guide To Ruthlessly Killing Your Darlings

    You need not worry about your browser history; this post is about killing figuratively.  In the world of writers, killing your darlings means getting rid of those story bits that need to die, even though the author may have fallen in love with them. But in the world of writers, the author who wants to write well, should be ruthless when it comes to removing the unwanted or unsightly from our manuscripts. Here’s how: Obliterate your Prologue. In one swift move, hit select all and delete. It’s gone. You probably didn’t feel a thing. Why? Most prologues are unnecessary. Prologues often assume your reader needs to be spoon fed every little…

  • Beautiful Words,  Character Development,  Craft

    Eight Ways You May Be Bungling Your Dialogue In Your Novel

      “I’m not bungling my dialogue,” you say to yourself. But you’ve had a few complaints from your beta readers about how they don’t like the characters. You’ve been told the story feels dead. While your plot is tight and your pacing is perfect, the characters themselves feel off. The trouble could be your dialogue. Dialogue is the soul of the characters. Dialogue is what brings the story to life for your reader. Are you bungling it? You may be bungling you dialogue if . . .  You’ve forgotten about the influence of setting. Your story’s setting may play a role in the way that your characters speak. But too…

  • Craft,  Revising and Editing,  Uncategorized

    Does Your Backstory Make Your Readers Stabby?

    Backstory? Oh yes, you’ve been working on that character’s backstory for months! You’ve written thousands of words of backstory! You know how his parents met, how he got that scar on his pasty white tuckus, and why he gets all shaky and whiny when he’s served enchiladas. This is all important stuff you told yourself as you dumped it out into the first chapter of your work-in-progress. It sets the stage! The readers can really know him! This will make the story richer! Your character’s backstory may have bored your reader to tears. They left after the second or third page. They want a story: they don’t want genealogical report or long-winded…

  • Craft,  Reading

    The Diary of A Beta Reader: A Guest Post by Sara Marschand

    Guest blogger Sara Marschand explains her thought processes while she beta reads. A beta reader is often the first or second set of eyes a manuscript gets. Their purpose is to spot holes in a manuscript and communicate to a writer, who maybe a little myopic, that changes need to be made.  For the last several years, I’ve had the privilege of beta reading for many authors. Much of my feedback highlights awkward sentence flags and unclear story parts. Sometimes it’s a setting that can’t be visualized, other times it may be a whole scene that doesn’t fit the narrative. Logical errors are the easiest to spot. One author described…

  • Nanowrimo,  Organization,  Uncategorized,  Work-In-Progress

    I DID IT! I’M A NANO WINNER! (Now, What My Project Is, And What It Is Not!)

    I did it! Despite going away for a week, having no plan, no outline and no idea what I was doing, I put in the necessary 50,000 words required for National Novel Writing Month. So, I won! I’m a winner! WOO-HOO! Now before I get too excited, I need to realize that word count alone doth not a novel make. Oh my. No. So this little blog entry is to explain what my particular messy 50K word work-in-progress is and is not. What It is: A long brain spew. This isn’t a bad thing. I really believe that the best books resemble icebergs. What is read in the published form is only the tip. This is a critical part…

  • Discipline,  Revising and Editing

    Editing. Is It More Important Than The Writing? Hell, Yes! A Guest Post by Jennifer Senhaji

    Writers, like all artists, are a creative bunch. There are some that are meticulous about structure and form. There are some that fly by the seat of their pants on the winds of inspiration. Both make good writers. Editing, proper and professional editing, make great writers. You may be thinking you’ve heard this before. You know you have to edit. You know not to rush to publish. You’ve read enough poorly or unedited books by now to know the value of editing. But I’m here to tell you that’s just the tip of the publishing iceberg. You can have the most fantastic, most original, next Pulitzer Prize winning novel sitting…

  • #WhyIWrite

    Pushing Your Own Boundaries: A Guest Post By Patricia D. Eddy

     May has been a pretty terrible month for me. April too, for that matter. You see, I sent my latest book, A Shift in the Air, off to my new editor, and she…well…she ripped it apart. Now, let me be clear. She was incredibly supportive and not at all mean about said ripping, but I’m still finding little shredded pieces of manuscript all over the virtual floor. I wrote about the struggle several times in an author’s reality, I did it, Breaking up is hard to do, and Editing: the good, the bad, and the ugly, approached the whole thing with a “suck it up, Buttercup” attitude. I could do…

  • Beautiful Words,  Craft,  Revising and Editing

    Top 10 Easy Ways To Make Your Sentences More Beautiful

     For the month of April, this blog is celebrating Beautiful Words! Today I have a list! Top 10 Easy Ways To Make Your Sentences More Beautiful 1. Eliminate the adverbs and adjectives. Stick in a metaphor if you want the reader to appreciate the nuances and features of the noun. Or pick a better noun. 2. Read it out loud. Listen for rhythms and cadence. Add in phrases or clauses to slow things down, add description or amp up emotion. 3. Don’t let it start with “There was” or “There were.” 4. Rearrange where the verb and noun are in the sentence, but don’t make it passive. 5. Add an element…

  • Craft,  Discipline,  Self-Publishing

    Why You Need To Practice Writing Long Before You Publish

    It’s really too bad that we don’t have a Quality Control Department for the written word. And Amazon Reviews, sadly, aren’t enough.  Writing is cheap — anyone can type out a sentence — and because of this cheapness, many people may not think that it’s worth much. Anyone and their dog can publish a book,  so the general public can easily accept shoddy workmanship. Perhaps because I can, with a click of button,  download hundreds of free books, I may have lost my respect for the carefully crafted story. Easy accessibility does not encourage the practice of good craftsmanship.   Craftsmanship is never helped when stupid phrases like “there are…

  • Motivation,  Self Talk

    The Nine Things You Say To Yourself That Could Change Everything

    What does it mean to Love Ourselves? I have  a very wise friend that I meet with on a regular basis. This friend, Melissa, has caught me being very hard on myself and saying aloud things like, I’m not very good at that. Or, I got it wrong again. Or, this means that I’m not good enough.  She’s challenged me to pay attention to those negative thoughts. She even asked me what the ratio was, the good, encouraging things compared to the negative things. I didn’t know what she meant. I was going to say, “Ratio? Is that math?  I’m not very good at math!” But then she explained. For every single…