Writers, Stop Repeating Yourselves!

3814788814_092e85e104You know that feeling when someone is telling you something they’ve already told you?  It  makes your palms sweat and fingers twitch.  It takes all the self control you possess to not scream in their face, “You told me this already! I know, I know, shut up!”  (maybe that’s just me?)

A lot of writers create this irritation in their readers without even knowing it.

This repetition takes many forms:

Repeated Emotions/Motivations

This is when a character feels a certain way about something and we hear about it over and over and over. Often it’s related to the character’s motivation or what they’re trying to accomplish.

For example, maybe a character really wants a boyfriend. That’s all fine and good, but if the narration of every single scene features something along the lines of “She wished she had a boyfriend,” it gets very old, very quickly.  Establish motivation early on, then let it go.  Readers can remember your character’s motivation without constant reminders.

Scenes with the Same Purpose

Say you want to show that Abby has a crush on Bill.  You write a scene where Abby watches him from the back of the classroom.  Okay, no problem, that introduces her motivation, it pushes the story forward.  But then you write another scene, where she doodles his name in her notebook.  Okay, we get it, she likes him.  Then you write another scene in which Abby writes him a love letter that she doesn’t send.  Alright already! We get it!  She likes him!

There would be nothing wrong with these scenes IF something else happened in them (she writes a love letter and gets caught; she doodles his name in her notebook and loses it).  A scene must have conflict and must move the plot forward. You can’t use scene after scene just to establish character motivation. You can test whether a scene is repetitive/redundant by taking it out of your story – does the story still make sense?  If so, cut it out!  It’s useless!  I wrote more about this here.

Sentences with the Same Meaning

Nearly every writer does this, and it is much harder to catch in your own work than in others.  This is when two sentences appear relatively close together (within a page or two, but often they’re back to back) that carry the exact same meaning. For example:

The couch was dark red.  She dropped into it with a sigh. It was the color of blood.

See how the first and third sentences are saying the exact same thing?

Writers should avoid repetition at all costs!  It makes the story grow stale and it can irritate readers (even if they don’t know why they feel irritated).

Need more editing help?  Check out my freelance novel editing services.

Make Sure the Dialog in Your Novel Makes Sense!

LandscapeWriters often create conversations between their characters that don’t make sense.  Usually this is because dialog tags and narration create so much space between what one character says and what another character responds with that it’s easy to forget what the conversation was about in the first place. This most often happens with questions.  For example:

“When do you want to eat?” Oscar asked, running his hands through his hair. He seemed distracted, probably wondering if I still wanted to eat at our usual restaurant after everything that had happened.

“Let’s eat at the burger joint,” I said.

At first read through, you may not notice that her response doesn’t answer Oscar’s question.  Sure she might have some motivation for not answering it, but in this conversation, that doesn’t seem to be the case.  And if that is the case, it’s the author’s responsibility to make that clear.

I see an issue like this one in just about every single novel I edit.  You can solve this problem easily by reading through your dialog without tags or narration. Read it like a normal, natural conversation (this is also useful for creating good flow).

“When do you want to eat?”

“Let’s eat at the burger joint.”

Now it’s easy to see that her response doesn’t make sense.

Need more writing tips? Follow me here or on Twitter.

Need a freelance editor? Check out my editing services.

Don’t Let Your Novel’s Characters be Crybabies

3029426381_225ae25c56

A lot of writers attempt to increase the drama of a scene by having their characters cry.  This can work (sometimes) if we know the character really well and truly empathize with them. But waterworks should be used sparingly in your novel, very sparingly.  If everything is a 10 out of 10, then nothing has any intensity at all.

Besides, who wants to read about a blubbering crybaby, anyway?  The last thing you want are readers rolling their eyes at your character’s melodrama, silently urging them to pull up their big kid pants.

The other reason to keep tears to a minimum is that tears release tension, and a novel should build tension. So if something bad happens and your character cries, that crying is like a catharsis, washing away the fear, excitement, or sadness.

The other, other reason to avoid crying is that most people find resisting tears much more touching than falling into a blubbering heap.  Consider the following examples:

“I hate you,” he spat.

She burst into sobs, tears streaming down her face.

Versus:

“I hate you,” he spat.

Her lip trembled, but she swallowed hard, turning away.

See how much more powerful the second example is?

Is your novel making you (the author) a crybaby? Learn more about how my editing services can help you.

If this post was helpful, please share it!

087

Valentine’s Day Giveaway: Win a Free 25 Page Novel Edit and Critique!

4681460753_2245d340c8I am very excited to announce my first (major) giveaway through my company Keytop, Inc.  Wooohooo!

I absolutely love (LOVE!) editing.  I feel so fortunate to get to wake up every morning to do something I love!  So I want to share that love with you!  And what better time of year to share the love than Valentine’s Day!  So I am super excited to announce:

Keytop Inc.’s Valetine’s Day Giveaway – February 7-14

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway with lots of ways to enter.  If I get a ton of entries, I will add more prizes as a reward (see below).  More entries, more winners!  So spread the word!  And don’t forget to come back to enter again (you can tweet up to twice per day).

3122875541_11bf6685c2The Prizes

Grand Prize (1 per 400 entries): A 25 page novel edit and critique!*

First Place (1 per 200 entries): Your choice: a free query letter critique or free 10 page edit and critique!

Second Place (1 per 100 entries): A 25% off coupon!

Participation Award (unlimited): A 10% off coupon! All you have to do is tweet about the contest at least once.

Click here to enter!

The winners will be announced here and on Twitter next Friday, February 15th. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch: ellen (at) keytopservices (dot) com

First Place and Grand Prize are reserved for new clients only. Prizes cannot be combined with any other giveaways, special deals, or offers. Prizes can be given as a gift to another person. Prizes must be used within one year of receipt. My prices/fees may change at any time without notice.

*25 double spaced pages, 1 inch margins, times new roman font (no cheating please).

P.S. I am always interested in guest bloggers or guest blogging. (:

About Me (Ellen Brock)

photo

I’ve loved books since the day I learned to read. I also love animals (especially dogs and rats), hot sauce, paper crafts, and cooking.  I own an editing company called Keytop, Inc., where I edit both fiction and non-fiction manuscripts for established and aspiring authors.  I also work as an independent contractor with several publishing companies. For more information about my editing services, click here.

Stop Using “-ing” Verbs in Your Novel

Want to add instantaneous strength to your novel?  Cut out verbs ending in “ing.”  These verbs weaken your writing and reduce the reader’s perception of immediacy. So avoiding these verbs can increase tension and improve flow.

6891657867_2b78f2abfeConsider the following sentences:

  • He was walking to the park.
  • I was dancing on stage.
  • She is staring at me.

Now check out these replacement sentences:

  • He walked to the park.
  • I danced on stage.
  • She stares at me.

See how much more direct and powerful these sentences are?  And of course,  this has a cumulative effect.  The more “-ing” verbs you cut out, the stronger your writing will seem. Consider this paragraph:

Abigail was walking along the bike trail. There was a boy riding his bike. He was smiling up at her as she passed. She started wondering what the boy was so happy about.

Now consider the alternative:

Abigail walked along the bike trail. A boy rode his bike and smiled as he passed her. She wondered what the boy was so happy about.

Need more writing tips? Follow me here or on Twitter. Need more help with your book? Check out my editing services.

How to Write Funny Characters by Stephanie Campbell

In my college English classes, I was told there are two things most difficult to produce in writing—irony and humor. I can relate to the statement. There is a very fine line between humorous and corny. I know I think I’m funny, but am I really funny? Chances are good I’m just odd. That’s why it’s so hard to create humor in writing. But don’t fear. There are ways to turn a bland character into a funny one. I’ve created some steps that can tickle your inner giggle maker.

BLOG PICTURES 11.   When you sit down to write, come with the right mindset. Don’t come to write focusing on the fact your husband left crumbs in the bed again, making you want to push him down a flight of stairs. You aren’t going to be writing very funny. Find things that make you laugh until your stomach hurts.

2.   Use Swipefile for more information. No, this is not a place for plagiarizing. I would never, EVER recommend plagiarizing. This is a place for funny inspiration.

bLOG Pictures 33.   Think through the last things that made you smile. For example, today my rabbit, Noel, got so excited when he saw the salad he brought over he fell on his bottom and squirmed around like a turtle. He gave me this hurt look when he got up like I pushed him. Now I may not put this in a book, but I could use a similar experience in one. Family and pets can be pretty funny. But beware of bunnies. They always known what you’ve done.

4.   What was the last thing you did which was funny? Use yourself and your mistakes as inspiration. This step will keep you from being the victim of a mad ax murder because Auntie Laura found out you used the time she got diarrhea at a gas station as a muse.

Funny Rabbit Pictures_25.   Play on a ridiculous trait. This is one of my favorite things to do because I am so OCD. I will only drink tea in a certain cup and don’t you dare touch my bed. I mean it. Don’t sit it it. Don’t look at it. I will kill you. So maybe you don’t want an oddball protagonist like me who is ready to bludgeon you with a laptop just because you sat on my sheets, but you could have a protagonist who refuses to eat red apples.

6.   Timing is perfect. Sometimes. Use the right timing in your work. Even a single word can bring a smile to somebody’s face if you do it right.

And one last thing, the most important of all.

PET THE BUNNY!

                           About Stephanie Campbell

540258_3082561602623_1669079159_nI am the published author of The Willow Does Not Weep, Racing Death, Case Closed, Mirror of Darkness, Hot Wheels, Dragon Night, Poachers, Dragon Night, Tasting Silver, Late but not Never, Specimen X, Tales of Draga, E is for Eternity, and P.S. I Killed My Mother. I have written another screenplay available, His Name was Dan Jose. My short story, The Beauty in Ugly, is being produced by Lower End Productions. I am represented by Sheri Williams of Red Writing Hood Ink.

If you want to read more about my release(s) or just want to keep up with me, please feel free to join with me on any of the following websites:

My blog: http://www.stephaniecampbellsblog.blogspot.com/#!/
My website: http://stephaniecampbellreleases.weebly.com/
My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Stephanie-Campbell/540104712672670
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/StephanieECamp
My agent’s page: http://www.redwritinghoodink.net/

You can also hear me talk on The Candy O’Donnell Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/candyodonnell/2012/10/23/author-stephanie-elisabeth-campbell.

I have also spoken with Silver Star Media at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/angelsandwarriors/2012/10/27/meet-stephanie-campbell

If you would like to guest post on The Writeditor, please send me an email: ellenbrock (at) keytopservices (dot) com

Need a novel editor? Check out my editing services.

Leave Hands Out of Your Novel…No, Really

3333245919_5fbfe00033Unless your characters’ hands are doing something that hands don’t normally do, leave the word out of your writing. What am I referring to? Consider the following phrases:

  • She grabbed the cup with her hand.
  • She gripped her chair with her hands.
  • He wiggled the fingers on his hand.
  • He rubbed his eyes with his hands.

The word “hand(s)” is not needed in any of these examples.  Nobody is going to think your character rubbed their eyes with their feet or gripped the chair with their butt.  So save words, space, and redundancy by leaving hands out of your writing.  See how much stronger and simpler these sentences are without hands?

  • She grabbed the cup.
  • She gripped her chair.
  • He wiggled his fingers.
  • He rubbed his eyes.

Want more writing tips?  Follow me here or on Twitter.  And if you need major help, I’m a full-time freelance book editor.

How to Write a Great Middle Grade Novel

Middle grade readers are in the “golden age of reading.”  But that doesn’t mean they’re easy to write for.  In this video, I outline the elements necessary in creating a great middle grade novel.

Above everything else, remember not to write down to kids. They are much smarter than you probably give them credit for.  And if you’re interested in writing a children’s novel because you think it’ll be easier to write and publish than an adult novel, you are sorely mistaken.  Middle grade novels are one of the toughest sells in the current market.

Need a freelance novel editor? Check out my editing services.

What is the Difference Between Middle Grade and Young Adult?

There is a lot of confusion among aspiring authors about the differences between middle grade and young adult novels. In this video, I attempt to clear up the confusion with concrete examples of the differences between the two age groups.

I have worked with many clients on shifting their novel firmly into middle grade or young adult, and it can be a difficult process. The key to successfully writing to one age group or the other is to understand what separates the two before you start writing.

Need a freelance novel editor? Check out my editing services.

Is Self Publishing Right for You?

Image

It’s never been easier to publish your own novel, but is self publishing right for you? Here are some questions to consider before taking the plunge.

Have You Written a Great Book?

Self publishing should not be seen as an alternative to writing and thoroughly editing a great book. I’ve seen a number of self-published authors bragging about how quickly they churn out books or how they wrote it in a single draft without editing. Yikes!

Self publishing is not an easy way to avoid the hard work and high standards of traditional publication.   Self-published authors rely heavily on word of mouth and good reviews.  So if your product sucks, you wont be successful. And if you want to earn an income from your self-published books, you need to build up a fan base, which can’t happen if your work is riddled with errors.

Do You Have Time to Self-Promote?

If the thought of an active presence on Twitter makes you cringe or if you can’t find a spare moment to post on Facebook, self publishing is definitely not for you. To be successful, you must be willing to do all the marketing on your own, which means a constant presence on social media and a huge time investment.

Has Anyone Else Read Your Book?

If you want a stellar book that will turn heads and get people talking, you need feedback on your work before you publish.  There are many ways to get feedback, such as utilizing beta readers, a freelance or independent editor, or posting excerpts on a writing forum. Whatever you choose, make sure that more than just one set of eyes has looked over your work.

Are You Happy With Non-Traditional Publication?

Do you want to self publish because it’s something you feel passionate about or because your query was rejected by all the top agents? Agents and editors (usually) won’t touch a book that’s already been self-published.  So if what you truly want is traditional publication and you give up too soon, you may regret taking your book off the market, especially if your writing improves later on.

Self publishing can be a great experience, but it’s not right for everyone. Before jumping in, make sure it’s the right choice for you!

Need a freelance novel editor? Check out my editing services.