Do You Hate Semicolons? Prepare for Battle!

Do you hate semicolons when you read?This lively post by Aliette de Bodard at Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog not only defends semicolons but also encourages us to learn to use them well.  My take: I’m an enemy of rigid rules, period. That said, there are some conventions writers really need to know, such as how to punctuate dialogue so it’s clear when it begins and ends. Readers get used to some of these conventions, and get jerked out of the story when their expectations are not met.

So whether to break a rule can really be a judgment call. Definitely: you best serve your prose if you know the rule, and the consequences of breaking it.

And by the way, I’ve been reading an awful lot of wonderful books that are unself-consciously replete with adverbs. I think I’m going to go back to some of my stripped-down paragraphs and slip those adverbs back in. Judiciously, of course. And in the dark of night.

3 Comments

Filed under correct grammar, Editing, grammar rules, indie publishing, Myths and Truths, punctuation, self editing, Self-publishing, style, Writing

Check Out My New Book Review for Horse Lovers!

Book Reviews for Horse LoversI just posted a review of Anne Clermont’s Learning to Fall on my Book Reviews for Horse Lovers Page. See if you agree with me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

4 Ways to Handle Backstory

Thanks to Andrea Lundgren posting over at A Writer’s Path for addressing an issue of craft I see us all struggling with all the time! I like a variation on number 4: dropping in short fragments of backstory in the course of ongoing narration. For example, when a new character engages with the protagonist, he or she can fill in a line or two to bring readers up to speed on the past relationship: “The last time Mark met Jane, the experience had been traumatic for both. He’d been in the middle of X, she’d been involved in Y, etc.”
Similarly, when a character enters a setting, a few lines of backstory can set up the role of that setting in the character’s life: “The first time she visited New York, she had been young and naive. . . . ”
It doesn’t take an entire flashback to establish histories like these. Simple inclusions in description and dialogue can tell us much about characters’ pasts.
The big caveat, for me, is that our readers don’t need to know EVERYTHING we know about our characters. Just as with all descriptions and exposition, I have to work to find the information that is really relevant to the story, perhaps to what’s happening in a particular moment.
Thanks, Andrea, for touching on a part of craft we all wrestle with in our writing!

A Writer's Path

Four 4

By Andrea Lundgren

Every story has exposition–details of the character and world that you, as the author, need to pass on to the reader. You’ve spent hours fleshing out the world of your story and learning about your characters, and now you have to find some way of getting this information (or at least the essential part) from your head to the readers’. (This is especially true in science fiction and fantasy, where you need to tell how the world of the story differs from our world.)

So what’s an author to do?

View original post 1,059 more words

1 Comment

Filed under Editing, Learning to write, novels, Plot Development, Writing

Amazon Book Review Myths? Did You Hear These?

Some useful information about those pesky Amazon Review rulesStack of many books from Build Book Buzz. Share your own methods for getting reviews.

3 Comments

Filed under Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, business of writing, ebooks, indie publishing, Marketing books, Myths and Truths, novels, Print on Demand, Reviews, Self-publishing, Writing

Do you want to know just the right word?

Thanks, Jean! I’ve been using Thesaurus.com with excellent results—way better than that thin list on Word. But this tool looks even more useful. I’ll give it a try today and pass on my results.

jean's writing

Happens to me more than I’d like to admit!

I’ve found a tool to help!

I’m on a roll, typing like a maniac. 

Until I stumble over a word.

My writing comes to a screeching halt. A word isn’t right. But I don’t want to stop my progress. After all, I’m a writing maniac. So I use a placeholder, I’ll come back to this section later and figure out the right word or words to convey my thoughts.

However, I’ve now got an itch I can’t scratch. That thought, that missing word or phase will not leave me alone.

Ever happen to you?

My protagonist whispers he can’t work like this, it’s too unprofessional.

Sigh, okay, I cave, save what little progress I’ve made and return to my placeholder. So I…

  • Think, think, think, I’ve got nothing.
  • Look up the placeholder word. Huh? Not even close. What was I thinking?
  • Check thesaurus. What…

View original post 261 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under ebooks, Editing, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, self editing, Self-publishing, style, Tech tips, Writing

Writing: Business or Hobby?

It’s tax time! Here are some good tips you might want to consider for the future if you’re not doing these things now.

Story Empire

Hey, SE gang, Mae here with a reminder that tax time is looming. Ugh!

A battle struggling writers often face is whether or not the IRS considers their efforts a business or hobby. Very few of us make bucketfuls of money as writers. For most, expenses outweigh profits during the first few years. That sad reality aside, you need to report those expenses if you’re trying to establish a business. I’m by no means an expert, but here are a few things you can do to keep Uncle Sam from viewing your enterprise as a hobby:

Detailed Record Keeping
This may seem obvious, but the more detailed records you can produce (in the event of a dreaded audit) the more favorable the outcome is likely to be. Keep receipts and make notations on each. In addition, use a spreadsheet to track and itemize by category. I use headings such as

View original post 563 more words

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

March/April 2017 Writing Contests

Here’s another useful list of contests from Rachel Poli!

Rachel Poli

march-april-2017-writing-contestsMarch 2017

Genre: Poetry
Theme: Food
Website: Literal Latte
Deadline: March 15, 2017
Entry Fee: $10 for up 6 poems or $15 for up to 12 poems
Prize: First place – $500

Genre: Fiction and Nonfiction
Theme: None
Website: Narrative Magazine
Deadline: March 31, 2017
Entry Fee: $25
Prize: First place – $2,500

Genre: Fiction
Theme: None
Website: Colorado Review
Deadline: March 14, 2017
Entry Fee: $15 – snail mail, $17 – online submission
Prize: First – $2,000

Genre: Fiction
Theme: None
Website: Fabula Press
Deadline: March 31, 2017
Entry Fee: $10
Prize: First – $250

Genre: Nonfiction
Theme: My Kind of America
Website: Chicken Soup for the Soul
Deadline: March 31, 2017
Entry Fee: None
Prize: $200

Genre: Nonfiction
Theme: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Website: Chicken Soup for the Soul
Deadline: March 31, 2017
Entry Fee: None
Prize: $200

April 2017

Genre: Fiction or poetry
Theme: None
Website:

View original post 117 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Contests, indie publishing, poetry, Writing