By: Kristen Lamb
Time is our enemy. Most people don’t have enough. This is why our writing must be tight, direct and hook early. Modern audiences have the attention span of a toddler hopped up on Pop Rocks and Mountain Dew. We can’t afford to let them drift.
I’ve edited countless books, many from new authors. I see a lot of the same errors, and this is to give you a basic guide of what to look for in your writing. Be your own Death Star. Blast away this weak writing so that once you do hire an editor, it won’t cost nearly as much because the editor won’t spend precious time (charged often by the hour) to note or remove these basic offenses.
I love doing my 20-page contest, namely because I act as an intermediary. When I run across excellent
writing I do try to connect it with an agent who might be
interested (with the author’s permission, of course). Yet, many of the samples
I get are infested with these basic oopses that tell me the writer is not yet
So I hope you can use these tips as a guide to reveal the pearl that is your story.
Tip #1—Use Other Senses. BTW, Sight is the Weakest
A lot of writers (new ones especially) rely on a lot of description regarding what a character sees, and while this isn’t, per se, wrong it can be overdone. Also, of all the senses, sight is one of the weakest, thus it lacks the power to pull your reader into deep POV (point of view).
***Just know I am riffing off these examples. Some people love detail, others love minimalism so I am not
doing anything other than providing quick
illustrations. Ultimately, tailor these suggestions to your particular
Smells are very powerful. In fact, it is the most powerful of ALL the senses.
Jane stopped short. She stared at the blackened walls and peeling paint that testified to the fire that took twenty young lives.
Okay, pretty good. But maybe try this.
Jane stopped short. The sickening sweet of cooked flesh stole her breath. It was all that remained of twenty young lives extinguished in flames.
Taste is also very powerful.
Fifi tucked and rolled as she dove out of her captor’s van. The ground came up hard, harder than she expected.
Not bad, but maybe try…
Fifi’s face met the ground, hard. At first, all she noticed was the bitterness of grass mixed with sand that crunched against her teeth. A moment later? The taste of old copper pennies gushed into her mouth, making her gag. Blood.
Try to use a combination of all of the senses to close the psychic distance. To rely solely on what a character sees will keep the reader at a distance. It will make her a mere observer and not a participant. Also, y’all might have noticed novels are pretty long
so adding in other
senses will broaden your emotional palette.
Tip #2 Don’t Coach the Reader
. . .
Read the full article HERE!
If you missed my writing & marketing tweets and retweets yesterday, here they are again:
- ScreenwritingStandard.com http://ow.ly/Nx47p The 5 Commandments of Dialogue (Hint: Nothing To Do With Your Neighbor’s Wife)
- Digging Deeper Into Author Earnings | The Passive Voice | http://ow.ly/Nx4iz
- Front and Back Matter in Books | Self-Publishing Advice for Writers http://ow.ly/Nx5Yy
- Fiction University: Make the Most of Accidental Foreshadowing http://ow.ly/Nx62q
- How to Turn Your Novel into an Audiobook | Writers' Rumpus http://ow.ly/Nx65l
- How to write a cozy mystery. (Part 1) | Laura Pauling http://ow.ly/Nx692
- Ten Ways to Tighten Your Writing & Hook the Reader | Kristen Lamb's Blog http://ow.ly/Nx6rI
- Why You Can’t Quit Your Day Job. Yet. | Carly Watters, Literary Agent http://ow.ly/Nx6WE
Writing Rules You Can Totally Break http://ow.ly/Nx7IC
"Some of these
...writing rules are not so muchrules, but preferences..."
- 8 Life Lessons Gleaned From The Internet | Molly Greene: Writer http://ow.ly/Nx82x
- Fiction University: What Makes the Best Story? http://ow.ly/Nx87b
- The Five Criteria for Creating Successful Story Goals - Writers Write http://ow.ly/Nx8b1
- 5 Ways to Get Early Feedback on Your Book Idea or Manuscript by Nina Amir — The Book Designer http://ow.ly/Nx8v4
Readers Want You to Remember | Wise Ink's Blog
forIndie Authors about Self-Publishing http://ow.ly/Nx8Ak
- Back to Basics 5 – Keeping Tabs Online - Author Marketing Experts, Inc. http://ow.ly/Nx8IZ
Published? Good Freakin’ Luck.
byMickie Kennedy | Romance University http://ow.ly/Nx91j
- How to add jeopardy to your story before the main conflict starts | Nail Your Novel http://ow.ly/Nx9ba
- What are the Best Times to Post on #Facebook, #Twitter and #Instagram? [INFOGRAPHIC] | SocialTimes http://ow.ly/NxeD1
- 5 Steps to Writing a Killer Elevator Pitch for Your Book http://ow.ly/Ny4Pv
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