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Category: Self-editing Tips

Writing Tips from Novels: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman ?>

Writing Tips from Novels: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman

Yes, there are lots of great books “on writing” (my favorite is the one that goes by that name, except capitalized; it’s by Stephen King), but I’ve found that you can get some great tips from the characters and narrators of Actual Novels. And isn’t it more fun to read a novel than a book about writing a novel? Sure it is. I have a few of these lined up in the queue (gosh, I love writing that word), but…

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Writer Vs. Self-Editor ?>

Writer Vs. Self-Editor

Once upon a time, there was a writer… Whoa, hold on there. Wait one darn minute, mister. Excuse me? “Once upon a time”? Really? Where’s the originality in that? Surely someone who calls himself a “writer” can do better. There was a writer… Pa-thet-ICK. Look, I’m just trying to… “Was.” Passive verb, my friend. You should know this by now. Passive verbs suck. Spice it up a bit. Put some life in your words or you’re going to put your…

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Talking About Talking [Updated] ?>

Talking About Talking [Updated]

I promised a post about writing good dialogue. So here it is. (Because you don’t want yours to end up looking like this.) Before I share a few book excerpts, consider these general tips. Keep in mind, these are principles, not hard-and-fast rules. Avoid repetition of attributions. While you need the occasional “he said” and “she said,” you don’t need one for every line of dialogue. If it’s a conversation between two people, establish the characters at the beginning, then…

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Let It Die ?>

Let It Die

Is it time let your novel die? That’s a question every writer faces at least once in his or her writing life. The decision to pull life support is difficult at best, debilitatingly impossible at worst. You’ve worked on this novel for, what, months? years? How many hours have you invested? Even a poorly-written novel takes a long time to write. Then there’s the emotional cost. Whether you love your characters or hate them, they’ve most likely become real to…

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Your Novel Doesn’t Stink Enough ?>

Your Novel Doesn’t Stink Enough

Scent. The forgotten sense. Take a look at your work in progress. How often do you invite the reader’s nose into the story? My guess? Not as often as you should. Consider real life for a moment. (In case you’ve forgotten, this is the life where you have to do laundry and feed the dog and occasionally acknowledge the existence of your spouse and/or children.) Breathe in each the following. Be sure to pause long enough for the brain to…

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When Details Become Distraction ?>

When Details Become Distraction

Version One. Benny’s cherry red Converse sneakers squeaked their delight on the Asian Mahogany Pergo laminate floor while his mother stirred the Nestle Semi-Sweet morsels into the cookie dough using the wood-handled Le Creuset spatula with the blue non-stick silicone surface that never failed her. “Now?” asked Benny, his brown eyes barely visible beneath the blue, red and white of the too-big Chicago Cubs baseball cap. “Not yet,” she answered, and she stirred some more, thankful for her Paderno copper…

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On the Subject of Subjectivity ?>

On the Subject of Subjectivity

Deep breath… The Da Vinci Code is the best novel ever written. You know it’s based on a true story, right? The Left Behind books are more well-written than anything by Fitzgerald or Hemingway or any of those boring Russian authors. The Road. It changed the way I view dialogue said the man. And punctuation. His life was a series of fragmented sentences. And so was the book. The Road is not just Cormac’s tarmac. It is brilliance said the…

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