Thursday, June 29, 2017

10 bad openings which cause readers to put your book back on the shelves.

The opening of your novel is important. 
Here are some things to avoid at the beginning.

1. Waking up. “The alarm clock jerks 37-year-old Rachel Farrant out of a sound sleep. She groans and fumbles to shut it off.” 
Don’t use the alarm clock. It won’t grab anyone’s attention. Did it work in Groundhog Day? You bet. Will it work in your story? No. 

2. A dream. Particularly a dream that starts out like a normal scene and then weird things begin to happen before, oh twist, it turns out it was all just a dream. Yucko potorie.

3. Alarm clocks, ringtones, knockings on doors – leave them out. The smell of breakfast rousing your protagonist from her slumber. Your protagonist getting out of bed to look at themselves in the mirror. Your protagonist waking up on the first day of anything in particular.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Curing "First Novelist Disorder." Four warning signs of the disease.

Here's how to identify that dread disease that keeps so many beginning novelists from getting published. I am speaking, of course, of FIRST NOVELIST DISORDER. (I was going to hold a telethon for F.N.D, but I couldn't find a poster child who could type.)

Here are four of the warning signs of First Novelist Disorder:

Like those tiny cars in the circus from which two dozen clowns emerge, many first novelists try to cram every idea they've ever had into their first novel. The result is a plot so dense with information that it never gets past the first reading. Literally; it's too much of a good thing. Save some of those great ideas so that you can write ten good published books instead of one great unpublished book.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I was one of America’s first ONLINE writing instructors.

I was one of America’s first online writing instructors (Prodigy, CompuServe and America Online. 1989-2008). 

I have been paid for my words for thirty years. So, what’s my advice for aspiring writers?

Write Every Day. The idea of sitting down every single day and writing profound literary prose can be overwhelming. But screw the profundity and simply write every day no matter how bad it might be. You can fix it in the rewrite.

Back when I was working nine to five as a nonfiction writer and editor, I got up earlier to write fiction from 5 to 7 each morning. Consequently, I got my nonfiction writing done and still wrote five novels, two of which are still in print. If you want to be a writer, you've got to actually write, every damned day.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Here are some words you should watch for during your rewrite and revision.

Here are some words you should watch for during your rewrite and revision. When you find them, throw them in the trashcan.

Throw away “very” and find a word that’s better. (Even our current president uses it much too often.)

One word I am very sure you should remove very quickly from your manuscript every time it appears (except in dialogue, of course) is the word “very.”
“Very” is a lazy writer’s word. To a lazy writer, water is seldom scalding, but “very hot.” The blonde is seldom filled with glee. She’s “very happy.” The day doesn't seem to last forever. The day is “very long.”
It’s one of the useless words in the English language.
In the dialogue, perhaps, “very” may belong, but seldom does “very” belong anywhere else in your manuscript.
(I’m very sure of that.)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Readers don't give a damn about description. They want the story to start.

When you do use description, weave it into the story, into the action, into the dialogue. Readers don't give a damn about description. They want the story to start, and they are impatient until it does. If you really must, drag in all your background and description later, after your readers are hooked by the story.

Everything you choose to show readers should be important or related to the plot and the characters. It is a good idea to color your descriptions with emotion. If readers find out about a sunset, a house, a cat, through how a character feels about its qualities, they'll feel it's an ongoing part of the story.