Check out this link to 10 verbs you should avoid.
I had occasion, recently, to look over a few chapters of an unpublished book. After reading the first two chapters, I still was not sure where the story was going. Some interesting foreshadowing had been included. We had been introduced to a rich palette of characters. The story was told from a single character’s point of view. But, something was missing. No clear direction had appeared for the story to go. The first chapter was essentially backstory. It was interesting, but it gave background. No story was really started there.
The first chapter was essentially backstory. It was interesting, but it gave background. No story was really started there.
The second chapter was in a different setting from the first and a host of new characters arrived on the scene, which is not always bad if their presence somehow invokes or gets the story rolling. That did not happen.
In conversations with the author, I found out that the main story line was going to involve one of the main characters. It was not, however, the character whose POV was being presented in the first two chapters. It was another one.
It seems like the first two chapters suffered from a personality disorder.
The main crux of the story (according to the synopsis provided) was not to come until much later in the book.
Readers want to know the core of the story quickly. Unless they are drawn in from the beginning, they will put your book down. That action results in bad reviews if you get any reviews at all.
Modern readers want to be grabbed by the lapels in the first chapter and convinced that this book is worth reading. They want to be motivated to continue reading. Each page needs to propel them to the next. Chapter endings need to shout out, “Read the next chapter to find out what happens next!”
Don’t fall so much in love with your characters and your settings that you forget to start the story right away. That is what the readers are looking for, they can fall in love with the characters and the settings along the course of the book. Hook them first. Show them around later.
A free service that you can use to do a quick check on your writing is Grammarly. Download the free add-on for your browser and it will always be there in the background anytime you are writing on-line. It is not foolproof and it is not right all the time. But, it does check a lot of common errors including misspelled words and punctuation errors.
I use it as an additional backup check for my proofreading and editing. It checks all my Facebook and Twitter posts. It’s even running right now as I write this and caught a few typos from my fumble-fingered hands.
There is also a Word add-on for those who subscribe to the service and online checker that will allow you to cut and paste text from your word processor into an on-line Grammarly window to check for errors.
It will not make you a better writer. But, properly used, it can keep you from making your embarrassing errors public.
And, for people like me, that is a very good thing. 😀
I had a long, unfruitful discussion with a potential client about a touchy subject—backstory. This person likes to write books in the old style where the author writes chapter after chapter setting the story up, building your characters and their world and then beginning the story. I tried to explain that is not really what readers want now, but they could not be dissuaded. While people like Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey got away with it, they did so because that was what the style was when they were writing. It does not work now. If you are going to write, you have to decide whether you prefer writing books to selling them.
Why do I say that? Let me explain. When you open a book, you are interested in what the story is about, who the characters are and the setting. But, you don’t necessarily want to meander through three chapters of taking a tour, hearing the local history and having coffee with the characters before the story begins. You want to get into the story straightaway. You want to meet, briefly, the chief characters and get introduced to their world and their struggle right away. If not, I can imagine you sitting, fidgeting and tapping your toe saying “get on with it!” When I writer takes that long setting the story up, I think they started their book at the wrong point. All the peaceful stuff that went on before the start of the story is fine as background. But, it is only that, background. I don’t really need to know all that stuff to begin with the story. Leave it for later. Tell me only when and if I need to know it to understand the story or the stakes for the characters.
Prologues are much the same thing. They, usually, take the reader back to a time before the story begins for some cogent piece of information. If the story does not rely on the reader knowing this information to get the plot or understand the world of the story, then the prologue is only delaying the start of the story. Leave it out.
Almost a year ago, I was privileged to attend the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. One of the sessions I attended was taught by Diana Savage. Her topic was Self-Editing Tips and Tricks. Here are my impressions from that session.
Diana Savage taught about Self-Editing Tips and Tricks. She has spent years as a writer and in the editing business, and I could tell that she was teaching from the heart of that experience. Some topics included:
- Types of Editing.
- Info on Copyright law
- Style Manuals
- Books on Grammar and Editing
- Finding an editor
She emphasized the importance of using strong action verbs and avoiding the use of adverbs that end in -ly. Good advice. She also stressed the importance of using active rather than passive voice and careful proofreading. She also pointed out that the gold standard for dictionaries is the Merriam-Webster as is the Chicago Manual of Style for other things.
Both the Merriam-Webster and the Chicago Manual of Style are available in print and have online subscriptions as well.
My takeaway from this session was a reinforcement of the need for excellent editing. You can avoid a lot of editing issues by taking care while you write.
This year’s conference will be May 15-16, 2015. There is still time to register and attend. Here is a link.
5 Brilliant Can’t Miss Details Tell You How To Write an Ebook
Guest Posted By Jan Verhoeff
Building content for an eBook is quite an experience. Any writer who has pulled information for writing one will agree, the topic often changes through the process. The title starts out as something workable “Building a Business Online” and becomes quite weird “The Attributes of Budding Gestation on the Sea of Cyber-land”, all long before it becomes a feasible heading of “Learn How to Make Money Spewing Absurdities into the World of Blog-dom”.
Blogs and websites are built on content. eBooks written for internet distribution are often based on content that can be bound together in one unitized thought, given a specific heading called a title. To be honest, nothing in the eBook is new, different, or sublimely profound; it is simply packaged for simpler digestion and projection into a reliable returns.
So, what is content?
First Brilliant Detail: Content
Gathered from the experience of a person ego-tripping on Guru Status, the content of the average eBook is simply reconfigured facts, specifically arranged for dynamic impact on the reader, with intent to humor the readers emotional response system. If the first reader reaction is tears, most Guru’s go back to the drawing board and try again. However, in all honesty, a Guru with enough clout to write an eBook most probably has enough information to keep his reader in stitches trying to keep up with the power struggle going on in his own mind, as he strives to achieve greatness himself, while emulating a total stranger.
Second Brilliant Detail: Emotion
Since content is aimed at gaining a positive emotional response from the reader, the proponent of gaining that response would be words. Any average word Guru understands the importance of using words that inflict emotion on their reader. The intent is to bring the reader a near death experience of exquisite joy, dance along the suspenseful edge of pain, or engage them in an arousing game of romantic cat and mouse. Out objective through all of this of course is to ‘get the attention of the reader’.
Third Brilliant Detail: Projection
Once all those emotions are created, we have to bring the reader to the brink of experiencing them, and we call this projection. We project the emotions we want the reader to feel into their subliminal understanding and focus their concentration on our ultimate desire. Of course, our ultimate desire is that the reader should want to purchase whatever incredible opportunity we project onto their emotional response and make us money. Their titillating response to our emotional ploy becomes a necessity, and we must acquire their focus.
Forth Brilliant Detail: Titillation
How do you titillate a prospective buyer into purchasing a product they don’t need. You convince them. They say sex sells, so sell it baby. Give the prospect what they want a titillating omnipresent experience of unbelievable joy and they will buy. Draw them in with a tantalizing title that attracts their passions and turn them on with content that evokes an essential desire.
Fifth Brilliant Detail: Desire
When you reach that plateau where their dreams are fulfilled, all their goals are going to be met, and you’ve replaced their need for oxygen with the required resource of your eBook, they can no longer function without your product and their desire is immeasurable your job is done. The book is sold, and you’ve no other reason to focus on that book, you start all over with a new project, create a need, and focus deliberately on attracting the right kind of clients who need your product more than they need air to breath.
Bound your eBook in a cover that emits emotional appeal and drives prospective clients to the brink of suspenseful desire, awaiting the arrival of this download, and you’re off. The finish line is in sight! Go for the gold.
Go for the gold – build on your resources – Market Guru Jan Verhoeff can help you. http://www.freewebs.com/ebizblitz
How to Write Clear Concise Copy With a Flair For Style
Guest Posted By Jan Verhoeff
What’s your style? Perhaps you’re frivolous and like lots of color and accessories? If you’re writing and that’s the way you choose to write, you may have trouble getting your point across. But, that doesn’t have to mean you change your style. Just tweak your writing a bit and you’ll be fine.
Stick to the Point –
Here’s a great clue… Stick to the point of your article and your frivolous style will automatically be tamed to perfect clarity.
Spell Check –
Important. Don’t misspell important words, or unimportant words. They’re all important. Check and double check any synonyms to make sure you spelled the correct word.
Identify Key Topics and Sub-Topics –
Headers and sub-headers make your writing more readable and give the reader a place to rest their eyes while checking your topic. This is particularly important for long pieces.
Originality Counts –
Presenting your topic in a unique and different way tops the greatest NEW concept, because it gives more readers the option of understanding the same old data that has actually brought us to this place in time. Try new words to describe the same old concepts.
Understand Value –
How many times have you said, “I wish I knew…” Whatever it is, the topic probably wasn’t that far out in the wild blue yonder, but rather may have been something as simple and every day as how to tie shoes. Every piece of information has value, some more than others. Everything you have to say will ultimately be valuable to someone.
Someone I your audience is waiting for YOU to write what they need to know, and they will not understand it until they read what YOU say. Trust me, whatever it is you’ve been meant to write – there’s a reason.