(Beth Turnage Blog) I’ve written several posts on Quora on writing and thought I’d curate some here. You can call it laziness, but really it’s a lack of time since ghostwriting is keeping me very busy. Really. 😉
How do word count limitations affect what you can fit into a story?
This is an excellent question, and I thank you for asking it. Now you will get a lesson ripped from the pages of “Beth’s Book on Writing Fiction.” Okay, there is no such book, but you know what I mean. After six years of writing professionally as a ghostwriter and having to render stories according to a client’s word counts, themes, and tropes, I may have an answer for you.
I studied the reviews of the titles for different stories that I wrote for clients and listened to their complaints. And I dug into story structure and pacing to render stories that people find satisfying. I’ve written almost every genre, except horror and a few sub-genres of romance.
(Beth Turnage) I’ve written a number of posts on Quora on writing and thought I’d curate some here. You can call it laziness, but really it’s a lack of time, since ghostwriting is keeping me very busy. Really. 😉
When writing, how do you grab your reader’s attention as quickly as possible?
How do I do it?
I bring the reader into the story as quickly as possible. I answer the questions who, what, when, where, why in the first paragraph. This means no long moody passages about the weather or vague impressions about feelings, or any of the awful beginnings that beginning writers are prone to pen.
But I’m not the only one. Plenty of first-rate writers do the same thing and here is an excellent page to see the first sentence of their books:
(Beth Turnage) One gem in Google Apps is the free editing tool g.suite’s SAS Writing Reviser. Designed for school use, there is no reason why you can’t use it for your writing.
Now, I love this thing, not only for its price point but also for the tools it offers, including, and get this, a verb tense analyzer. That is pure gold because if you wanted a similar tool, you must purchase another online tool and pay $30 a month for the privilege of using it. Um, no.
But the caveat with using SAS Writing Reviser is that you must know what you are trying to accomplish with it. Unlike ProWriting Aid that stands over you with its whip and commands you to change this or that, SAS provides few guidelines on where to hit your prose with its editing magic. So let me take you through this lightly and you can explore the rest at your leisure.
(Beth Turnage Blog) So you are deep in NaNo and emotions run high. Perhaps you’ve finished a chapter or two, but then the dreaded crash. You know where you are heading but now you’ve become stuck in the mire.
(Beth Turnage Blog) What are the possible factors that lessens the lexical density in writing??
A question in a comment? Yes! I was so tickled that I decided to devote an entire blog post to it. And I won’t just tell you. I’ll show you, and to do so I’ll pick on my of my favorite authors Kevin Hearne whose first thousand words of Shattered:The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 7 is the perfect case in point.
You: Wait, Beth, you’re not using Kevin’s writing direct from his book, are you? Isn’t that a copyright violation?
Me: Under Fair Use Provision of US copyright law excerpts for the purpose of commentary are perfectly fine especially since I’m using less than 1% of the entire book.
Why did I pick Kevin to pick on? Out of the authors I studied, Kevin, at least for this book, had the lowest lexical density percentage. And what I find fascinating is that Kevin, before he morphed into a full time writer, was a High School English teacher. He taught words to impressionable young minds. Continue reading Ooh! A Question about Lexical Density
Writing is hard. Difficult. Okay, it’s the kick in your stomach when you are working like a demon to scrape the words out of your dissolute soul.The words refuse to arrive like the A-list celebrities you invited to your party. Your characters snottily refuse to talk to you, your descriptions fall flatter than gluten-free pancakes, and your inner world sucks.
W. Somerset Maugham said:
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
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.
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.”
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.
You’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