Everything I've learned about writing a book, Grammarly, Hemingway, and AutoCrit Apps, getting Amazon Book Reviews, Indie and Audiobook Publishing, Book Promotion, the (huge) importance of Amazon keywords, Cover Creators and other things to help authors write and sell…
As I continue to edit my work in progress and think about meeting readers’ expectations, especially when it comes to descriptive writing, I recently came across and interesting review of Peter Mendelsund’s What We See When We Read, “a book that explores how people imagine and remember the things they read.”
I’ve always been loath to write (and dislike reading) detailed descriptions of characters and settings. I’m OK with details that surface as the story progresses when they are relevant, but one of the fastest ways for me to lose interest in a book or story is a front-loaded block of description sentences which have no other purpose, and an abundance of adjectives and adverbs. She was tall and had green eyes. She stepped over the puddles with her long legs while smiling at Bob, showing off her perfect, white teeth… Ugh.
At the risk of provoking the popular vs. good debate, aspiring writers who wish to write well should study the novels that have endured (let’s call them the works of “masters” for this discussion), not the forgettable books on the top 10 bestseller list this week.
Free Indirect Discourse (also called Free Indirect Speech) seems a clunky mouthful, but it is also a powerful tool to make your writing more intimate when used in proper measure. Wikipedia says: “What distinguishes Free Indirect [Discourse; FID for short] from normal indirect speech is the lack of an introductory expression such as ‘He said’ or ‘he thought’. It is as if the subordinate clause carrying the content of the indirect speech is taken out of the main clause which contains it, becoming the main clause itself. Using [FID] may convey the character’s words [and thoughts] more directly than in normal indirect.”
Most young writers (of all ages) share their manuscript much too often and much too early in the hopes of getting constructive feedback on their work in progress. For instance, I see a lot of writers share their work after just a first or second draft. Some share “Chapter 1” of a novel, even though chapter 1 is all they have written. Even if such drafts are free of spelling and grammatical errors, sharing a draft so early is a mistake.
Are you writing a story (or writing a novel) to be critiqued? If you are participating in a writing group — be it a fiction writing workshop, a fiction class in school, a writing studio, or a writing seminar — there are a few, simple things you can do to help make sure your work is well received. I bring this up because I often see writers do things which predisposes their critique group to dislike their work or avoid it almost immediately. The good news is these are really easy things to do.
Writers always need help with editing, so this is pretty damn cool: Two of my favorite tools are now working together for free. The Hemingway App has always been free, and Grammarly has a free version. But now, with the Grammarly Chrome extension, not only can you use both of them, you can use both of them together. It’s not the same as having a human editor, but if you are trying to figure out how to write a book, this combination can be a big help. Let me explain…
In my writing workshop a long debate broke out about adverbs. Why they are evil, when they are needed and when they are not. The participants even offered example sentences of good and bad use of adverbs and when they are and are not needed for clarity.
Few of us think of ourselves as editors. Of course, we all want our submissions to be grammatically correct and stylistically clean and easy to read while being true to our voice. It is hard, though, to get it right. The great news is that there are powerful tools that can help, some of which are free.