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The Craft of #Writing: Beware the Adverb Nazis.

The Craft of #Writing: Beware the Adverb Nazis. published on No Comments on The Craft of #Writing: Beware the Adverb Nazis.

Adverb Word Cloud Pro-Writing Aid, an online program that analyzes your writing and gives you recommendations to improve it. As I was looking at a report on a piece it gave the number of adverbs and recommended that I remove three.

I must have missed this before but I do tend to use the old editor, instead of the report on the new editor.

Hmm.

With a word count and a number of allowed adverbs in hand, I calculated the percentage of adverbs that Pro-Writing Aid said I could use.

And I was shocked.

Those of us that ply the writer’s craft are aware of all the different pieces of advice from different writers, editors, and pundits that basically boil down to “use fewer words to express your thoughts.”

Adverbs, in particular, have received a bum rap. Stephen King wrote in On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft:Continue reading The Craft of #Writing: Beware the Adverb Nazis.

The Art of #Writing–Audit Your Novel’s #StoryStructure

The Art of #Writing–Audit Your Novel’s #StoryStructure published on No Comments on The Art of #Writing–Audit Your Novel’s #StoryStructure

Over typed keyboard
Over typed keyboard
You’ve sweated, plotted and struck the nubs of your fingers into your keyboard enough times to wear indentations into the keys. The first draft is in your hands. What do you do now?

You fix it.

Even best selling authors have to repair their story structure. Kevin Hearn gives a nice accounting about the process between his editor and him. But you, I’m going to guess, don’t have an editor, at least not a developmental editor, because those puppies are expensive, so it’s a DYI exercise.

You: Hey, I’m a spiffy writer and nothing is wrong with my pretty baby.

Here is the dividing line between an amateur writer and a professional one (at least in intent)–you are willing to tear apart your work ruthlessly in order to make it better. There is no emotion involved in this except the “aw shucks” when you have to kill one of your darlings, or cut a character or scene you love but doesn’t add to the story.

So how are you going to do this?Continue reading The Art of #Writing–Audit Your Novel’s #StoryStructure

The Art of #Writing: #Plotting and #Pacing Using #Scrivener

The Art of #Writing: #Plotting and #Pacing Using #Scrivener published on No Comments on The Art of #Writing: #Plotting and #Pacing Using #Scrivener

The Hero's JourneyYou’ve plotted or pants your way through your novel, spent long months of taking your hero or heroine from there to back again, and then you read it. And die a little inside. Because even though you’ve created engaging characters, put them in gut twisting situations, and gave them a resolution that makes you weep, something is off. Terribly, terribly off.

Your novel drags in places. Goes too fast in others. The beginning is solid, but the middle is soggy. The ending seems rushed. One character seems to overtake scenes they shouldn’t. You think it’s the plotting, but you look at all the elements, and yep, everything is there that you intended as a plotter, or discovered as a pantser. Maybe this is the place you stall. You aren’t sure what to do. Or maybe you suck as a writer (hint: you don’t) and you shove the whole thing (figuratively, because you use a computer) into the furtherest corner of your desk.Continue reading The Art of #Writing: #Plotting and #Pacing Using #Scrivener

The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed published on No Comments on The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

Editing You suck.

As a writer.

No really.

That’s what you are thinking as you contemplate the editing of your work. It is where you confront your worst fears as you embark on the most dreaded of writer’s chores.

Sometimes my first draft is so utterly cringe worthy, I can hardly bear to read it. “What was I thinking?” I’d tell myself when reading my words. How did I write a sentence that convoluted? Why am I using so many filler words? Can I really not find a different word to use instead of writing it three times in the same paragraph? And why the hell can’t I remember where I should and shouldn’t put commas?

Ack! Argh! Hands in face.Continue reading The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

The #Writing Craft: #Write Like A Best Selling #Author

The #Writing Craft: #Write Like A Best Selling #Author published on 2 Comments on The #Writing Craft: #Write Like A Best Selling #Author

Lexical Density In which I examine Pro-Writing Aid recommendations against the efforts of published best-sellers.

In the previous three articles in this series we’ve looked at the findings of a group of researchers at Stony Brook University that linked lexical density to a book’s success, at lexical density compared to writing rules and identified the two hundred most common words as parts of speech.

Now we’ll look at some slightly different elements in the word recipe toward building a great book.Continue reading The #Writing Craft: #Write Like A Best Selling #Author

#Howtoblog: Use #keywords to build your #author blog’s reach

#Howtoblog: Use #keywords to build your #author blog’s reach published on 2 Comments on #Howtoblog: Use #keywords to build your #author blog’s reach

blogging, writing, pagerank, keywords, how to blog
Increase your pagerank with keywords
Pagerank seems to be one of those little things that many writer-bloggers ignore. Maybe it’s because Google keeps changing the game rules, maybe because so few authors understand pagerank, or maybe because in the hectic life of a writer (must put down words, no time for anything else) it seems a tiny detail in the world of blogging.

It is not.

Pagerank is your SEO report card and if you are scoring a goose egg on pagerank, one thing is not happening. The search engines are not sending traffic your way.

Yes, I know. I gave you five sneaky ways to get website traffic, but if you are in this for the long haul you need every edge you can get. Securing a page rank is one edge. Some authors understand this better than others. Chuck Wendig has an immensely successful blog with a page rank of five for his main site and four for his blog. Kevin Hearne a page rank of four, which is pretty darn good on the Google end for a non-corporate blog. Obviously Kevin had someone do all the shiny SEO thingies to get the blog to that pagerank. The first actual author’s blog on Google, which is on page two is Advanced Fiction Writing which has a page rank of three. Now if someone is looking for author blogs who do you think is going to get that traffic?

Well, not Chuck. (Sorry, Chuck) And not Kevin, despite that page rank (Sorry, Kevin). The winner here is Advanced Fiction Writing who took the trouble of crafting the blog title around what, class? (Holds hand to ear) Continue reading #Howtoblog: Use #keywords to build your #author blog’s reach

The Craft of Writing: 200 Most Common Words As Parts of Speech

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Lexical Density Proportions
Lexical Density Proportions

Two hundred words are said to comprise eighty percent of all English sentences. Here is the list broken down into parts of speech. Why? Because you should know what weapons you are hurling at an unsuspecting public.

It’s been nigh many years when the nuns at my Catholic grammar school made me memorize parts of speech at the age of seven and had me parse sentences at the tender age of ten. Funny thing is that my children never had to struggle with such exercises. Instead they were immersed in “whole language” where they were encouraged to write and express themselves whether or not they knew how to wield words. This is such a stark contrast to me and my classmates having to copy compositions and types of letters out of books to learn how to write such things that it is no wonder that writers today use sentence fragments and feel perfectly comfortable using them. Continue reading The Craft of Writing: 200 Most Common Words As Parts of Speech

The Craft of #Writing: Lexical Density Compared to Writing Rules

The Craft of #Writing: Lexical Density Compared to Writing Rules published on No Comments on The Craft of #Writing: Lexical Density Compared to Writing Rules

The Craft of WritingI took some creative license in the title because we all know there aren’t any rules in writing. There is just some incredibly strong advice. The “rules” vary widely from writer to writer and even from genre to genre.

But there do seem to a few general “rules” floating out there that were captured by a Guardian article where they printed the rules of Elmore Leonard, whose rules seem to be derigeur today.

1.) Never open a book with the weather
2.) Avoid Prologues
3.) Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4.) Never use an adverb to modify “said.”
5.) Keep your exclaimation points under control.
6.) Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose”
7.) Use regional dialect and foreign words sparingly.
8.) Avoid detailed descriptions of characters
9.) Don’t go into great detail describing places and things
10.) Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.
Other general admonitions handed out to beginning writers are “show, not tell” which runs along thing lines of Leonard’s eight, ninth and tenth rule. Writers are encourage to “show” what is happening rather than telling or writing the story like a news report.

Leonard’s rules seem to lean toward a lean and clean prose that doesn’t bog the reader down with word thick prose. Anything not essential to the telling of the immediate story is stripped away. What he seems to be leaning toward is “readability,” the facility of the prose to communicate to as many readers as possible.Continue reading The Craft of #Writing: Lexical Density Compared to Writing Rules

Scrivener’s Shot Gun Wedding With Pro-Writing Aid

Scrivener’s Shot Gun Wedding With Pro-Writing Aid published on 11 Comments on Scrivener’s Shot Gun Wedding With Pro-Writing Aid

Shotgun wedding My most useful writing tools are Scrivener and Pro-Writing Aid. Most writers have heard of Scrivener, a powerful word processing program that orders and organizes the screaming voices in your writer’s head, helping you to pump out your stories. There are too many features in this program to write about, though the number of features is what turns some writers away.

But having found the most productive way (for me) to use Scrivener, I won’t write in anything else.

Pro-Writing Aid is an online program that helps you with the grunt work of editing your stories. Want a swift and sure way to edit your punctuation? Find the repeat words in your stories? Keep track of overly long sentences? Tell you how many filler words you are using? Pro-Writing Aid does it and does it well. The yearly sixty bucks I spend for it is well worth the money.

The only problem with Pro-Writing Aid was that there was no interface between it and Scrivener. You shifted between your text and the analysis to make your edits. This was a long, slow and boring process.Continue reading Scrivener’s Shot Gun Wedding With Pro-Writing Aid

The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book

The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book published on 1 Comment on The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book

The Secret To Writing Now, not to disparage those writers that have spent the last four decades polishing their magnum opus, but there comes a time to finish a book. Like a relationship gone bad, it’s a bit ripe and it’s time to move on already. Aren’t there other stories you want to explore? Don’t you have a folder of story ideas that are weeping for your attention. You know there is. So how to do it?

Now confession time. I’m sitting on my high horse here, even though I’m one of though aforementioned authors. But things have changed for me in writing land as I’ve taken on some ghostwriting projects, (because you know, a girl’s gotta eat) and nothing is a daunting as writing up someone else’s ideas on a schedule. A very tight schedule. It’s the type of schedule where you mess around all weekend and come Monday you have 10,000 words due on Wednesday and you don’t get paid if it doesn’t get done. It’s like doing NaNoWriMo everyday of your life.

To do it you have to have a master plan, as well as a decent typing speed. I’ve developed a strategy that’s helped tremendously. Do you want to hear it? No? Well I’ll tell you anyway.

It starts with Scrivener.

Scrivener is such a useful tool that I’ve never regretted the forty bucks I spent on it. This is unusual for me, because as cheap as I am, I regret spending money on the laundry. Scrivener however, makes writing books fast and easy.

There are always discussions about being an outliner or a pantser, and each writer has his or her style in putting out a story. Using Scrivener doesn’t make a pantser an outliner, but it sure can help you set up your goals into manageable pieces. Instead of looking a blank page you can look at blank folders ready to fill with your writerly goodness.

Step one: decide your word count. Now wait? Doesn’t your story evolve organically? How can you decide a word count? Well the industry does that for you, with different genres having a different word counts that are considered more desirable than others. A romance book can get away with 50,000 to 60,000 words, but a SF epic can’t get away with less than 80,000. Your word count is pre-decided based on your genre. Don’t worry. You’re a writer. You can do this.

Step two: decide how many chapters you want. This is highly dependent on what you are writing. If you are writing short e-books, depending on the word count you will 5 to 10 chapters. Larger works will have more. But if you aiming for 60,000 words, you’ll end up with 20 to 25 chapters. Just pick a number. It’s not set in stone. That’s the beauty of writing. You are working with words, not paint or clay that dry up while you work.

Step three: Divide word count by chapters. Viola, you have target word counts for each chapter.

In Scrivener you will now go and set up folders for each chapter. And after you do that add sections to each folders for scenes. I usually set up three to four scenes per chapter, though again, that’s not set in stone. It is good to add variety to the number of sections you use per chapter. Let your creativity be your guide as you write.

Now, here is the thing that will have you shaking your head. Set a word count for each scene. Yes! You will do exactly that. You’re a writer. You have words to get out and you don’t have time to shift this little thing to that little thing to make a decent chapter. Nope. You are going to do this from the get-go.

Say I’m working on a 10,000 word ebook. Here I’ll set up 5 chapters at 2,000 words each. In each chapter I’ll set the opening scene at 400 words, the second at 1000 and the last at 600. This gives me a frame work to move from chapter to chapter, though if inspiration strikes, that goes out the window. Still I know I’m going to hit the target of 2,000 words for that chapter. So if I’ve got 400 words to fill one section that’s what I’m going to do. It calls on your creativity, and you may get more detailed than you originally intended, but that’s good. Hit 2,000 words, wrap it up, move to the next chapter, wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s how you finish books.

It’s what Chuck Wendig says, write as much as you can, as fast as you can, and finish your stuff!

Editing it. That’s another post.

Happy Writing.

Mug is Chuck Wendig’s Secret to Writing available here.

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