Writing tips
What is the passive voice?
On April 9, 2018 | 0 Comments

Unless you’re a grammar nut like I am, chances are you’ve never heard the term “passive voice.” Here’s a quick explanation: Passive voice without attribution is when we learn that something happens without learning who did it. For example: Active voice: Gloria ate all the cookies. Passive voice without attribution: All the cookies were eaten. Active voice: […]

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Watch out for repetitive descriptions in your writing
On March 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

In previous posts I’ve addressed my tendency to overuse certain words, phrases, or gestures, for example she bit her lip and she walked home slowly. To solve the problem I use the “find” option on Microsoft Word to catch the over-usages before my manuscripts go to the copyeditor. Some still slip through, but I’m getting better. For words […]

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Don’t “tell” on top of beats that “show”
On February 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

In previous posts I’ve discussed how useful beats (action) are to show your readers instead of telling them. I also advised against using beats too often because it can dilute their effect. Another way to devalue the impact of beats is by telling readers what those beats are already showing. For example, the following beats do a solid job of letting us know what […]

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Beats are great, but don’t overdo them
On January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

A beat is an action that shows readers how a character is feeling instead of telling them. For example: Krista slammed the door shut. “I said leave me alone!” Compare the above to this: “I said leave me alone!” Krista shouted, furious. Having Krista slam the door not only shows us that she’s furious instead of telling us, it also gives us a visual […]

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My inner monologue on inner monologues
On January 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

Recently I received conflicting advice regarding inner monologues, and as a result I’ve engaged in a running inner monologue of my own. I wrote my latest novel, Bridges, in third person from the point of view of the protagonist. Here are two examples of how I originally presented her inner thoughts: EXAMPLE A Daphne looked up […]

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Does your dialogue match your characters?
On January 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

One of my favorite parts about finishing a first draft, outside of the profound feeling of accomplishment, is that after months of hard work I’m finally able to sit back and read the entire story from beginning to end. It’s impossible for me to experience my work with completely fresh eyes—that’s why I strongly believe […]

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Writing tip: Keep a notebook by your bed
On December 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

When I was writing my latest novel, Bridges, I woke up in the middle of the night and knew I’d come up with an idea for a scene I was working on, but I had no idea what it was. Absolutely none. Instead of fretting about the lost inspiration, however, I reached for the notebook in the […]

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Watch out for overused words
On December 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

When I got my latest novel (Bridges) back from my longtime developmental editor, as usual, she offered helpful suggestions for how to improve plot, pacing, character development, etc. This time, however, she also mentioned that my main character smiled–“a lot.” Curious as to what my editor meant by “a lot,” I used the search function […]

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Are you breaking the “show vs. tell” rule in your dialogue?
On November 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

If you’re not familiar with the “show vs. tell” rule, the gist of it is that you want to show your readers events or feelings instead of telling them. I frequently see this rule broken in dialogue by authors who choose overly descriptive verbs that force-feed us the character’s sentiment. When I encounter too much of this I find […]

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To lie vs. to lay
On November 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

When I was in high school, people used to say “laying out” when referring to catching rays at the pool or the beach. At the time I remember thinking they should have worn sunscreen, but it didn’t occur to me that they also should have said “lying out.” But now I know better! I still […]

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