As writers, we are always looking for ways to improve our writing. Here are ten tips that writers may find useful.
1. Disguise “He said, she said,” I said. A great way to move away from the monotony of he said/she said is to find alternatives when you need to identify who’s speaking in the dialogue. Here are some suggestions: 99 Ways to Say He Said
2. Ration lyrical language. I love poetic, lyrical language, but if it stifles the intensity of the moment, slows the pace when it needs to move forward, or creates confusion, perhaps it should be eliminated or doled out in very small doses.
3. Add a little humor. I’m not suggesting that you become a comedian but a little humor can liven up dialog, lighten a heavy moment, and serve to draw the reader closer to the character.
4. Use dialog. There are few things worse than opening a 400-page book and seeing very little white space. Narrative is great but dialog can serve to move the story forward, reveal background, demonstrate relationships, and give characters a voice.
5. Show a little leg. Back in the 1800’s, women’s fashion revealed very little skin. Because women’s bodies were so shielded, when a man got even a little hint of skin, it was titillating. In other words, don’t give away too much upfront, give the readers a teaser, a golden nugget, a taste of something decadent. Make them want, desire and need more until there’s nothing left but the conclusion.
6. Is that a cliche or are you just happy to see me? Admittedly, some cliches work in certain circumstances, but a novel filled with cliches and stereotypes is lazy writing. And, trust me, readers recognize it. The last thing writers want to do is insult their readers’ intelligence with lazy, unoriginal and insincere writing. Unless the story calls for it, minimize stereotypes and overdone cliches.
7. Avoid favoritism. We all have them — a favorite word, phrase, punctuation, action, or adjective that we love and use ad nauseum. For example, I was having a love affair with semi-colons and em-dashes until my beta readers pointed it out to me. If you’re guilty of favoritism, don’t fret, there’s plenty of help. You can Google, Yahoo, Bing (or whatever search engine you like to use) your way to diversity . . . it’s fast and usually renders plenty of options from which to choose.
8. Be Candylicious. That’s right, despite what your grade school English teacher taught, you can (and should) take creative liberties. This is where you set yourself apart from other writers. This is where your story gets your unique fingerprint. I like beginning a sentence or paragraph with ‘But’, ‘And’, or ‘Because’. And, yes, I consider myself raspberrying my grammar teachers every time I do.
9. Do “you”. You can find a million trillion articles about the rules of writing and what MUST be followed or else you’re doomed to failure. Some say ‘never begin a novel with a description of the weather’ while others will say ‘never use adverbs.’ Words are the writer’s paintbrush. Paint your picture the way your imagination presents it to you and never mind whether you’re using an adverb or a flowery description of a hat.
10. Have fun. After all, this is what you’ve dreamed of doing for as long as you can remember. If you’re not having fun, it will translate onto the page and pass along to your readers.
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Genre – Romance, Interracial
Rating – PG13
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