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StoryBundle – Writestuff 2016

May 25, 2016 – 8:35 pm | No Comment

We don’t often feature these products on the group blog, but this is one designed for indie authors, and it doesn’t have affiliate links AND you can donate 10% to charity, so we thought we’d see how it went.
Storybundle and HumbleBundle feature products in ‘bundles’ at a significant amount of money off, and if you’re looking to study or intake information, this bundle is a …

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Self-Editing 101

April 27, 2017 – 1:23 pm | No Comment
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  1. Spelling – Even the best spellers make mistakes. Use a software program like Grammarly or WordWeb (both of which have free versions.) Both may catch other errors in word usage – like affect vs. effect – and both do offer a thesaurus so you can find a better word or correct one that’s overused.
  2. One of the first things they may or may not tell you in writing classes or seminars is that in a novel it’s all about action. It’s about doing things. Show don’t tell. People don’t ‘begin’ to do things, they don’t ‘start’ to do things, they DO them. For example – ‘Smoke waited until they were distracted to begin nibbling at her hair again’ vs. ‘Smoke waited until they were distracted to nibble at her hair again.’ Which sounds better? (Smoke is a horse, by the way…) Don’t have your characters begin or start to do anything unless it’s the first in a series of actions. Do a search for begin and start.
  3. Ditto feel and felt. Which sounds better – When he kissed her it felt like she tingled all over -or- When he kissed her she tingled all over? For #2 and #3, a professional editor will often scribble “SDT”. This is not a disease, it means “Show Don’t Tell”. “The best “show don’t tell advice” came from Anton Chekov: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
  4. Very or Really. They’re not very happy or really happy, they’re ecstatic or delighted. Use a better, more descriptive word. If nothing comes to mind get a thesaurus.
  5. Search for contractions. For some reason, many writers don’t write in contractions. Especially with ‘had’. He had, she had, rather than he’d or she’d. Be very careful not to do a universal search and replace to correct this or you’ll hate yourself in the morning because once it’s saved you have no other choice but to search the entire document for the awkward mess you made of things. (Always start a new copy when editing, just in case. It’s a lot easier to start over that way.) For example, a universal search and replace for ‘had not’ to ‘hadn’t’ will also change ‘had noticed’ to ‘hadn’ticed’. (This is a personal choice, in a more casual voice like dialogue in fiction, it works, but in more formal writing, it may not.)
  6. ‘There was’. Sometimes it’s justified. Look at each sentence to see if you can rephrase it to make the sentence clearer.
  7. Speaking of there – their (possessive), there (in that direction), and they’re (they are).
  8. *aargh* The dreaded ‘that’. That she, that he, that they… In most cases, the use of the word ‘that’ is completely unnecessary, but we use it in speech so it can sound correct when you write it.
  9. Try not to use that when you mean who. “The man that…” should be “the man who… “
  10. Just and only. Always make sure you really need to use them and that they’re next to the word you want to modify. For example – only costs vs. costs only or it just costs or costs just… Do you really need either?
  11. Was. Jim was shaking his head. Jim shook his head. Always watch for those ‘ing’ words. If you see a lot of them in your writing in conjunction with was, you need to change that sentence to a more active voice. Active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb. In passive voice sentences, the subject is acted upon by the verb.
  12. As if/like. Make sure you know which of them you really mean. Do a search for like, and in each place see if ‘as if’ doesn’t sound better.
  13. Watch for split infinitives. Not all of them are bad – to boldly go where no man has gone before, where boldly splits to and go – is generally accepted. “I decided to not go” sounds awkward.
  14. Of…. is another sneaky little beggar. ‘Inside’ works as well as ‘inside of it’ in most cases.
  15. ‘Then’ and ‘and then’ are telling words, don’t use them. For instance: Then he went to sit down. Just say: He sat down. Or…. And then she set a bowl on the table. Just say: She set a bowl on the table. Using then or and then is like a narrator in your book telling us a story, it slows it down. Show, don’t tell.
  16. Do not use really, very, or like. He’s either hot or he’s not. He’s not really hot, or very hot, he’s roasting, burning up, or he’s gorgeous, sexy, etc. She’s not ‘like’ that, she IS that.
  17. Commas. If you have more than two it might be a good idea to look at the sentence and decide if it would work better as two separate sentences. This is DEFINITELY true if you have more than three. For more information on commas and their proper use – http://grammar.about.com/od/grammarfaq/f/QAoxfordcomma.htm
  18. Singular and plural pronouns. When speaking about an individual, the pronoun should be singular, when speaking about a group, it’s plural. Ex. It brought him to their feet. Wrong.
  19. (Although this is primarily a grammar document, it is about writing and this has been seen too often to go unremarked.) Don’t ‘Slug a Nun’, as a well-known writer once said. In other words, when opening a chapter, any chapter, get to the point. Don’t say “Mikey slugged a nun” and then take ten pages, eight of which explain the history of the Catholic Church before you explain WHY Mikey slugged the nun.
  20. Another very common mistake – Her eyes wandered. Please put them back in her head, that’s disgusting. Her gaze might wander, but not her eyes. She might glance at him, their gazes may meet, or lock, etc., or they might stare at each other, but his eyes will never wander over her breasts unless it’s a zombie movie and they’ve gained legs. Some editors might let this go, but you should be able to find a better way to say it.
  21. Watch for sentences that start with the same word or the same type of beginning. He did this, he did that. Change it up so the reader doesn’t get bored.
  22. Too much use of “it” as a subject can make writing weak. Delete the vague pronoun and identify ‘it’ with a solid noun. Not – It felt good to dress up. Try – She enjoyed dressing up.
  23. Do not mix dialogue of one character in the same paragraph as another. Ever. Even if, or especially if, you’re using omniscient point of view. And always identify the person speaking or thinking.
  24. Action and reaction. Sentences need to relay information about the cause before the effect or result. Not – She jumped as the door slammed shut. Try – The door slammed, making her jump.
  25. Eliminate unnecessary words. In the above example – few doors slam open, so it must have slammed shut or closed. So, the door slammed.
  26. Try to avoid prepositional phrases (to her, at him, for her, etc.) that can be implied. Not – Seeing him proved what a distraction he was to her. Try – Seeing him proved what a distraction he was.
  27. Stephen King said, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Try to evaluate each adverb (words that end in -ly), especially in conjunction with speaking tags. Replace with stronger words. Not – He leaned close and spoke softly. Try – He leaned close and whispered.
  28. Repeated words: There’s a function in Word that shows words you overuse, but a beta reader or editor can be a better choice. Sometimes it’s justified – a character tic.
  29. How often do you use ‘look’? Try variations like glanced, gazed, stared, their eyes met, saw.
  30. Said, but don’t get too caught up it. Studies have shown that said is a word that readers eyes pass over, registering only who is speaking.
  31. Starting a sentence with But when you could use However.
  32. Starting a sentence with And. Can you rework it? It’s acceptable, but too much or too often is a bad thing.
  33. Redundant actions: stood up. How else would you stand? Sat down – try sat. Nodded his head – just use nodded, if he’s nodding anything else it’s just weird.
Also, consider picking up The Elements of Style. It’s a small, thin book, perfect to keep beside your laptop or desktop computer. It answers some of those pesky grammar questions.
For style suggestions, try Hemingway Editor, a software program that highlights lengthy, complex sentences, common errors, and passive voice. Always be careful taking the advice it or other programs offer – you don’t want to sound too mechanical or lose your authors ‘voice’.
One last little hint. By not doing a read-through sentence by sentence but using search instead, it forces you to look at each sentence individually, in isolation. It makes it much easier to spot errors you might otherwise have missed or to question the wording of the sentence. Try reading it aloud, or use text to voice to read it back, that may help you pick up errors in flow.

 

A Tale of Self-Publishing – How authors slayed the dragon

April 25, 2017 – 4:47 pm | 2 Comments
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Once upon a time, there was only traditional publishing and in traditional publishing there were gatekeepers. A gatekeeper’s job was to filter out the unedited, poorly written dreck that opened not with action, but backstory or prologues. Then their function changed from being mere gatekeepers to arbiters/purchasing agents and so the reading public was forced to read endless variations of Twilight with its moody, angst …

KDP Select and Instafreebie – a caution

February 1, 2017 – 6:30 pm | No Comment

I’ve been talking to people a lot about the new promotional methods out there while we revamp the blog (you’ll notice that all bar a few articles are still up on the site for now – they need updating, to the point that we’re actually setting up some new projects and doing something new for […]

StoryBundle – Writestuff 2016

May 25, 2016 – 8:35 pm | No Comment
Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 21.34.07

We don’t often feature these products on the group blog, but this is one designed for indie authors, and it doesn’t have affiliate links AND you can donate 10% to charity, so we thought we’d see how it went.
Storybundle and HumbleBundle feature products in ‘bundles’ at a significant amount of money off, and if you’re looking to study or intake information, this bundle is a …

Pronoun merges with MacMillan

May 25, 2016 – 8:10 pm | No Comment
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Pronoun announced today that they were merging with MacMillan, in a move that is probably going to be quite surprising to many. There have been a lot of changes recently in the indie author community, so what is clear is that people are trying to forge the best of their platforms for various needs – it’s just a question of finding the ones that work …

Weekly subgroup discussions – Week beginning Sunday 15th May

May 15, 2016 – 11:36 pm | No Comment
O BOLDY AND ADVENTURE ONWDS

All of our Indie Author groups are no spam, so people can enjoy the discussions.  We feature our subgroups regularly, so please join us for some great conversations, and to hang out with other writers that enjoy the same genres.  Readers can join us to see who is discussing the things that interest them and click through to the writers that offer the most interesting …

Self-publishing 101

January 15, 2016 – 7:49 pm | No Comment

Write a good book and finish it. Do not even consider self-publishing until it’s finished, with good cover art and editing.
Write at least two and up to five more books before releasing Book One, even if it’s in another genre – nothing sells Book One like Book Two, Three, etc.
Give the first book to beta readers for evaluation – give them a time to return …

My experience with Twitter Ads

January 9, 2016 – 5:58 pm | One Comment
Site visits

At the end of 2015 I had the idea to experiment with Twitter’s advertisement machine. It’s easy to find: http://ads.twitter.com. You sign in with your twitter account and there’s where you start.
You can set up all kinds of campaigns. I wanted one that got more traffic to my website so I went for that. (You can go into the ads site and look around without …

How to be a Pantser – Character Development

December 23, 2015 – 3:57 pm | No Comment
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When you first met one of your best friends, did you know everything there was to know about them? Of course not. Sometimes becoming friends is instantaneous, something about them tells you that you just know somehow that you’ll like them. Maybe it’s the easy way they have about them, or the direct way they look at you, the way they’re comfortable in their own …

Pinterest for Writers

December 23, 2015 – 3:38 pm | No Comment
Pinterest

First, remember that Pinterest is not a promotion or sale site, it’s simply another social media site except that it’s geared around pictures. For a writer, a Pinterest page allows readers to get to know the writer as a person, as well as your work. Your goal with Pinterest is to engage readers. So, with that in mind:

Create a Pinterest page for you as a writer. …

Our new classes, starting October 1st, and a freebie

September 27, 2015 – 12:45 pm | No Comment
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If you struggle with marketing, you are cordially invited to join us for some accessible, affordable classes based around everything social media.  These classes are designed to teach you to handle your social media in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you, and gives you the chance to write, market yourself on various platforms, or work […]