Today’s Writing Tip

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As part of the admonition to “show, don’t tell”, learn to render emotions as opposed to using a simple modifier. Compare the impact of “He fumed with anger” to “His eyes flashed daggers, fists tightening at his sides” or “His heart raced, fury surging through him like a fire storm.” Concentrate on the physical sensations of the emotion you’re trying to express to capture what it actually feels like. One of the marks of good writing is conveying emotions to your reader in an effective manner. If your reader feels something, then your story is upgraded to an experience and becomes much more memorable.

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Today’s Writing Tip

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Scrutinize all prepositional phrases to determine if they’re needed or whether the sentence can be reworded to avoid them. If they’re redundant in any way, zap those suckers out of there! For example, saying “He put his hat on his head” could easily be shortened to “He put on his hat.” Where else would he put it? Economy of words for maximum impact should be your goal.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Always check your manuscript for over-used words and phrases, such as: so, just, in order to, therefore, or any of your personal favorites. It’s easy to fall in love with a newly discovered word, then use it so much it annoys your readers. Some of the words I’ve seen over-used are ubiquitous, baleful, and humongous. You’re probably not even aware of this on the first draft, so put it on your list as something to look for when you start to edit. Once you discover your favorite, learn all its synonyms so you can replace it with ease.

Today’s Writing Tip

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If part of your story takes place in the military, make sure you use rank, terminology, and dialog correctly. For example, a superior officer would not tell an underling to “relax”, he would more likely say, “At ease.” Also remember that military personnel typically address one another by their rank instead of their name. Authenticity adds to the flavor and credibility of your story. Lack of it will throw a knowing reader out of the story and  your fan base.

Today’s Writing Tip

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One of the most important things you must do as an author to make your work stand out is to create vivid characters readers will remember. One way to add color to your characters is by giving them a regional accent. Capture it in writing by deliberately misspelling their dialog to reflect how it sounds phonetically. Just make sure you’re familiar with what that particular accent really sounds like or anyone from that region will recognize it’s not authentic, which could do you more harm than good. Accuracy is always important.

“Detours in Time” by Pamela Schloesser Canepa

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“Back to the Future” is one of my favorite movies of all time, and this book had various similarities. Who isn’t fascinated with the concept of time travel and its various paradoxes? The characters in this story were vivid and engaging, a middle-aged professor named Milt and his younger female friend, Tabitha, whose nickname is Pinkie. Their time base is 1997. and they venture forward to 2047, and then back to 2018 due to a mishap while they were time-shifting. While it was supposed to be mostly a pleasure trip of exploration, much as we would visit a foreign country, naturally it turns into more.

Milt’s curiosity as a scientist drives him to unearth information about his future as well as Pinkie’s, which has a strong impact on his outlook and motivation. The view of the future was well-done, with interesting political and scientific developments that influenced the popular culture, including a second civil war which has once again divided the USA. These were all presented in a credible manner which showed the author’s great imagination and research skills regarding such things as body modification and hybridization. The growing feelings and budding  romance between the main characters as their friendship evolves gave additional depth and interest to the story.

The author did not belabor the scientific aspects of time travel or why it might be possible, so it wasn’t what I would consider “hard” sci-fi. In this story time travel wasn’t available to everyone, only them, much like it was in “Back to the Future”, since Milt was the one who initially discovered it. The expected paradoxes come into play, as well as moral and legal implications.

I really liked the author’s straight-forward, family-friendly style, which moved along smoothly with a steady stream of suspense, action, and dialog. Additional plot twists toward the end set the stage for a sequel, which should be equally engaging. I look forward to what lies ahead for Milt and Pinkie as they seek to untangle the twisted web of time that results from their adventures.

Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Always strive to be the best writer you can be. Reading books by established authors published by well-known publishing houses provides examples of outstanding writing and editing that you should emulate. Most indie writers are still progressing to their best work. Some will be less skilled than you are, others more advanced, but to grasp the industry standard, read those accepted by reputable publishers. It’s good for your ego to read books from beginners, but to improve you writing, study techniques employed by seasoned, experienced authors.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Understand there are several types of editors. Just because you hire one, doesn’t mean they’ll do the job you expect, especially if you don’t understand there are different types.  They may do a great job within their realm, yet miss other problems. I can’t tell you how many problems I’ve found in books where the author supposedly hired an “editor.”

Here’s the basic run-down: Proofreaders look for typos. Copy editors look at punctuation and grammar. Line editors look at everything. Content editors look at plot & characterizations. If this is news to you, then I suggest you read this great article that gives more detail.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Suspense is essential in any story. If you don’t know what will happen next, that’s a good indicator your reader won’t, either. The more obstacles between the protagonist and what s/he wants, the better. When your character gets him or herself into such a mess you don’t know how s/he’ll get out, then you’re on to something. Be sure to let your character solve the problem in his or her own way.