Helpful Tips

Tip of the Day: Don’t try to be Super Woman and do it all.

For many, there is this underlying insecurity that forces us to try to do more than we have hours in the day for. People ask us to do things for them, and we can’t resist, we have to help. For a writer, this can cause some serious time issues. Other writers ask us to read through their manuscripts and we happily do. Then we get asked to write guest blogs; we do that too. There’s the workshops that we are desperately wanting to go to, and the contests that we really want to enter. Then we come up with a brilliant story idea and we can’t stop ourselves. And social media is so tempting. (We need to have an active on-line presence, right?) Meanwhile, something begins to suffer, normally our sanity. We can’t do it all. Something has to give. Prioritize. Pick those few items that are precious to you and ensure that you make time for them, even if you have to give up something that you may like doing, or feel an obligation to do. Remember that you’re only human. (You are human, right?)
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Helpful Tips

Tip of the Day: Patience is a skill all writers need.

The publishing industry as a whole is a hurry-up-and-wait industry. We send manuscripts out for critiques, but must wait for the reports. We send a chapter to an editor, but it could easily be a week, or longer, before we get it back. We send out the query to an agent and it could be months before we hear anything. We sign a publishing contract and it could be a year before we see our book on the shelves. The book is published and it takes time for any sales to happen. Patience is the one skill that all writers need to develop. But it doesn’t stop us from checking our inboxes at regular intervals.
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Helpful Tips

Tip of the Day: There are many things a writer can do while waiting for news.

There are so many things that a writer can do while waiting to hear back on something that they sent out. You could write something else (although some struggle with this idea). You could read another book or manuscript written by someone else. You could work on your writer’s platform, writing a new series of posts for that long-neglected blog. You could edit another manuscript. The one thing that you want to avoid doing is stressing out about it: watching the Twitter feed, checking your inbox every five seconds or complaining publicly about the wait on social media. (Again, your writer friends can help you with the insanity that is threatening to set in.) Find something constructive to fill your time with.
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Helpful Tips

Tip of the Day: It’s the little details that help build a story.

Little details, like the design of the saddle used on a horse, might have little to no relevance to a story plot, but believe it or not, it’s those little details that can make or break a story for a reader. Take that saddle for example. If you are writing a story that takes place in medieval times, you don’t want to be talking about the horn on a saddle because the saddles that your characters are using likely didn’t have one. It may be only a passing sentence in the whole manuscript, but it can be enough to keep your readers happy.
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Helpful Tips

Tip of the Day: There is a fine line between too little and too much backstory.

Editors often complain about too much exposition, generally referring to too much backstory and setting descriptions. However, there is a fine line between too little and too much backstory. The exact level needed will depend on a combination of factors: your narrative style, perspectives used, type of scenes, genre and previous story history (i.e. series). If something directly relates to your character’s motivations and actions, then it should be included in some fashion, but that tidbit about a character growing up surrounded by dogs might be irrelevant, depending on the story.
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Helpful Tips

Tip of the Day: Don’t panic if your word counts climb during initial editing.

When editing early drafts, it is common for word counts to climb. There should be more developed passages and settings to help build the picture in a reader’s mind. On subsequent editing, you will examine every word, sentence and paragraph, asking yourself whether it adds to the story as a whole. At this point, your word counts should return to a more respectable level.
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Helpful Tips

Tip of the Day: Made-up words are fine, as long as they make sense.

It is common for those who write fantasy or futuristic science fiction to make up words. You don’t always need to define those words either. If it is clear from the context what that word means, then readers will accept it happily — this is particularly the case with swear words. If you are using full sentences of a made-up, or foreign, language, you will need to put in a definition somewhere. Some put in a glossary in the back, however, that only works for printed books and even then could frustrate your reader. It is best to have the translation within close proximity of the foreign passage.
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Helpful Tips

Tip of the Day: Just because a word exists, doesn’t mean one should use it.

The Oxford English Dictionary is 20 volumes and contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. That is an insane number of words. But just because a word exists in the dictionary doesn’t mean that one should actually use it. Think about your reader. If your reader needs to have a dictionary sitting next to them just to understand what it is you’re writing, then you may want to rethink your word selections.
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Helpful Tips

Tip of the Day: The occasional said is needed.

Many writers are consciously aware of the overuse of dialogue tags — he said/whispered/shouted/bellowed/crooned/etc. As a result, many writers will avoid them altogether. However, the occasional said is needed to help break up the structure, providing interest and actually telling the reader who is talking. It’s a word in the dictionary, so don’t be afraid to use it.
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