Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Please Leave A Tip On The Blood Red Pencil

Are you a Tuesday morning quarterback? Could you have executed some great Super Bowl plays, if only you'd had the chance?

You may not have been able to share your expertise there in the football arena, but you're more than welcome to do so here.

I invite you today to Leave A Tip On The Blood Red Pencil. It can be any helpful tidbit you've picked up about writing. Even if you're a beginner, but have learned something useful, please feel free to share.

Also, if you absolutely love a tip someone else has already mentioned here, by all means feel free to agree. A tip's popularity is usually a good indication of its effectiveness.

Here's my two-part tip:
Use shorter sentences to pick up the pace.
Use longer sentences to slow it down.

Your turn. Our comment section is open. Be sure to leave your name, along with your website or blog link. Also, if you wish to do so, please tell us where you've heard of us.

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Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
Killer Career - 99 cents on
Kindle and Smashwords



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56 comments :

  1. Remember that the first draft is jus that. A draft. It can be fixed.

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  2. Avoid the "It was a dark and stormy night" opening. Start with action—not a weather report. Unless, of course, weather is really important to the plot.

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  3. As soon as your contract is sealed signed and delivered, set up a blog for your book and talk about the process. Let other aspiring authors learn what all goes into the publishing of a book. After the book comes out, talk about the promoting end of it. Don't let your blog sit for more than 2 days without writing something in it.

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  4. Learn to think in scenes - start with a scene question, end with an answer that propels the reader to the next scene.

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  5. When we write a first draft, the part of speech we will most likely need to upgrade will be the verbs. That is because a first draft explodes out of us. The idea is great but the execution is limited by the speed at which we process it.

    We will often take the expedient route and use forms of the verb "to be" as a shortcut because WE know what action we are thinking about. The reader, however, sees only the verb to be. Thus, if we write in the past tense, which is the most common form of writing fiction, a first draft sounds like a convention of angry wasps:

    wuzzzzzzzz ...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Don't tell folks on lists you never read reviews as reviews are garbage, and then contact reviewers on the list and ask for your book to be reviewed.

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  7. Never give up. If writing is in your heart,learn your craft and write everyday.

    Terri
    http://terri-forehand.blogspot.com
    http://heartfeltwords4kids.blogs[ot.com

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  8. Kevin, that is too funny!

    Morgan Mandel
    http://facebook.com/foreveryoungbook

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  9. Every writer has "pet words," words that we use over and over and...well, you get the idea. We may not even realize how often we use them, but our editors definitely notice. Make a list of the "pet words" you're aware of using, and every time you revise a manuscript, do a "find" for those words and highlight them. Not only will that help you eliminate at least some repetition, but having all those colored blobs on your pages might help you slow down as you revise so you'll catch more errors.

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  10. Don't edit as you write. Let your creativity flow, and your story might take to you to a place you never expected. Allow those first draft words to pour out of you before going back to edit.

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  11. My best tip (and one on which I have done workshops) is a simple acronym - B.I.T.C.H. - Buns In The Chair Honey. In other words, sit down and write the book. Then you can edit and re-write and polish, but you have to have something to work with. Finish the book!

    Also, remember - writers write.

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  12. When you think your final draft is done, go back and delete all those dreadful words that end in 'ly.' You don't need the modifiers; let the verb itself do the work.

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  13. Write the book of your heart. If you do, your words will sparkle and you will experience joy.

    Monti
    NotesAlongTheWay

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  14. I agree with so many of these posts. My tip comes in the form of a quote:

    "Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." - Henry Van Dyke

    You don't need to have writer envy. There was only one Mark Twain and there is only one Stephen King. Perhaps none of your books will ever make the NY Times bestsellers list. That doesn't mean readers don't enjoy them. Use what talent you possess to enrich your life and entertain your readers.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My favorite piece of advice comes from Ken Kesey.
    "Don't write what you know. What you know is boring. Write what you don't know." The unknown is exciting. Discovering it is an adventure. If you go on an adventure, your readers will follow. Joe Lansdale told me something similar. "Take risks."

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  16. It's so important to hook the reader - that said, most writers just starting out given too much back story or information in chapter one and chapter two is the real start of the novel.

    Tip: Start the novel where the hero/heroine meet.

    POV is so important. I recommend 1st person POV or 3rd Person, deep for a romance novel.

    I can't help it: Be patient. It's taken me about 10 years to really get out there and there's much more work to be done.

    Smiles
    Steph

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  17. Milt, I love the image of the angry wasps. Does make the point about overusing "was." But we must keep in mind that there are times that is the best verb - when the action is ongoing. "Frank was running down the street" has a different meaning than "Frank ran down the street." In the second instance it appears that the action is over.
    Yet again, a clever writer could write, "Frank ran down the street, looking in car windows as he passed." But if I don't want Frank to look in car windows but I want the action to be ongoing, I will stick with "Frank was running down the street."

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  18. Love the tips, wonder if I have something of value to add. Decided, yes.

    Buns in chair, finders on keyboard . . . or pen on pad.

    Don't just think, write.

    Revision comes later.

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  19. If things are going well in your novel...make them worse.

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  20. Once you start using social media as a marketing tool, beware of the drain on your time. You must set aside time to write.

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  21. The best tip I ever received was from a published author who said to me "Write something on your novel every day, even if it's just a 100 words."

    Some days I struggle to reach those 100 words. Other days they miraculously become 1000 words. But the act of writing *something* on my novel keeps the rhytym ticking over nicely!

    Judy (South Africa)

    PS Thanks to Cheryl for giving me a name of the person who said that about the birds in the woods. I often use that quote, but have never known who said it! :)

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  22. Good comments so far - here's my best advice especially for older writers: Take regular breaks. Write for 50 minutes to a timer, then get up, walk around, stretch, do some eye exercises, drink some water, eat something healthy. You'll come back to the writing refreshed. And use a timer! Did I say to use a timer? It's an especially useful tool when you don't want to write.

    Jenny, do I attribute that quotation to you? Love it!

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  23. So many great tips. I'll definitely remember the B.I.T.C.H. one! LOL

    And, Dani, I just so happen to have a timer right here by my computer and have been setting it for around 35 minutes at a stretch. It takes me out of the flow, so sometimes I cheat on that.

    My timer is necessary since I've discovered that writing for long stretches gives me sore muscles in weird places.

    Morgan Mandel
    facebook.com/foreveryoungbook

    ReplyDelete
  24. When I was blocked and frustrated about my novel, a friend suggested that I forbid myself to write for a specific period of time. Doesn't matter how much inspiration hits, no writing AT ALL for that period.

    I've used it a couple times, successfully. By the end of the week or month, I can't wait to sit down and write.

    Then again, the quickest way to get me to want to do something is to tell me I can't.

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  25. Giving yourself time to write isn't OK.

    It's "okay."

    (Thank you for listening.)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Sometimes I get my best ideas when I'm not sitting in front of the computer. If I'm stuck, I try to go for a walk (even on the treadmill) or go for a short drive. A little motion and a mindless activity can sometimes get the ideas flowing again.

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  27. The first five pages are key, and the first page even more so. Begin with a bang and accelerate from there!

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  28. Make the delete key your friend instead of your enemy. Sometimes we fall in love with sentences, or scenes, or even characters in our work, and eventually discover they really don't belong in this novel. You can always save it in a folder in your word processing program if the idea of never seeing it again distresses you.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Someone said, "Write from the heart." I'll add to that. Write a story you'd like to read. So what if it isn't on anyone's most wanted list. If you love it, odds are so will other readers.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Remember that Georgia O'Keeffe's name has two f's. And it's all right, not alright.

    Lou Allin
    www.louallin.com

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  31. Lots of great tips here, and I agree with most. The phrase that has stuck with me since the beginning came from my first editor.

    "You've written a great story, now we need to turn it into a novel."

    In fiction writing, when you find the difference between telling and showing, then you are truly an author. :)

    Also, try to avoid over-using "that." If the sentence reads fine without it, eliminate, eliminate, eliminate.

    ReplyDelete
  32. The tip from Chris about the first draft is something I've been trying hard to remember. I have a tendency to want to make everything perfect.

    Lately, I've been getting better getting the essentials down, but I still fight that inner editor.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://facebook.com/foreveryoungbook

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  33. Have confidence in yourself. No one is perfect. And edit, edit, edit.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Holy mackerel! What an awesome bunch of tips for writers! I'm going to send all my past and present aspiring author clients to today's blog. A great blend of inspirational, practical, and "just get to it" advice.

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  35. How are you staying focused this year? Right above my computer is a sticky note with the message “WRITE FIRST” followed by the premise of my next book. This keeps me focused on my main career priority of developing my core competency (writing) while also reminding me what I’m writing about.

    Sharif Khan
    http://www.sharifkhan.com
    Freelance Writer, Essayist
    Author of “Psychology of the Hero Soul”

    ReplyDelete
  36. Edit from hard copy. Use a different font--print in columns, even. Your lines will break in new places. Your eye will be 'fooled' into thinking it's new writing.

    Terry
    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

    ReplyDelete
  37. My favorite writing quote is "Writing a novel is like driving at night with your headlights on. You can only see ahead of you a little way, but you can make the whole trip that way."

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  38. Figure out what your story means (theme) and weave that into the plot.

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  39. To bring your characters alive, try writing journal entries in your character's voice. Have her/him, through you, write down their inner secrets, fears, hopes, insecurities, and aspirations in a personal diary. This process will help you find out things about them you never thought of before, and create more rounded, living, breathing complex characters. And it will help make your story more meaningful and compelling.

    ReplyDelete
  40. The thing I've found most helpful is reading books from a writer's point of view - dissect what works and what doesn't, then steal the good stuff (techniques, that is, not words ;).

    And don't forget the heart of your story, it's so, so crucial: http://readingwritingandribaldry.blogspot.com/2011/02/if-i-only-had-heart.html

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  41. If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.

    And never name a bad guy "Earl."

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  42. Recycle. Take all the odd bits and pieces you've edited out of your manuscript and save them in a seperate file. (I'm talking about sentences and paragraphs here, even entire pages, not individual words.) Later, when you find yourself dead ended and not sure what direction to take things, go back and peruse them. They can act as idea starters and sometimes you'll find you can lift entire sections into the place you've stalled.

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  43. I like Neil's idea about the night driving with the headlights. I don't do outlines, so that one really applies to me. I never know what surprises are in store down the road.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://facebook.com/foreveryoungbook

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  44. Love everyone's comments. My 2 cents:
    POV = viewpoint.
    Make sure your description reflects the POV you're writing from whether that's 1st or 3rd person.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Don't write because you want to make lots of money, or be the next Stepanie Meyers. Write because the words flow when the characters live and breathe inside of you...and they want life outside of your head. Writing is like childbirth...hard work, but the end product is both a part of you, and an entity unto itself. Write because you must.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I've noticed that people who edit when they're blitzing through a first draft... take forever to get the first draft done. It's OK and alright to make mistakes the first go-round. :D OK? Alright. Now go write. G'night.

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  47. Advice from a teacher, "If I can read your paper and say, "So What!" at the end of it, then you didn't convey your meaning very well."

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  48. My tip is to read books on Script Writing/Screenplays. I read, "How to Write a Selling Screenplay" by Christopher Keane and found it most helpful. The core ideas helped to strengthen the plot, main characters and villian in my novel. The advice was great and each chapter concluded with an exercise.

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  49. The main purpose of the first sentence/paragraph is to persuade the reader to read the next sentence/paragraph.

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  50. When in third person POV, please remember though it may be fun to play ping-pong, it's not much fun to watch. So be careful you don't force readers to become ping-pong watchers by changing the POV back and forth between the hero and heroine in a single scene. Though it's mot written in stone that you can't change the POV once in a scene, then back, remember to indicate in some way--spaces, or ***--that another person is speaking. Yes, you do see big name authors who break this rule--but are you one of them?

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  51. Awesome!
    Such great tips from everyone!
    This is like a writing class.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  52. I love Jenny's comment about making things worse! And I promise never to name a bad guy "Earl"...

    Here are my two cents:

    - This isn't a competition. Don't allow yourself to become discouraged because you seem to be less productive, less popular, or less anything than other writers (especially your friends). Comparing yourself to other authors will only suck away your inspiration and will to write. The only comparison that will help is to compare your work today with what you did yesterday. If you're improving your skills - if you're learning the craft - if you're getting your name better known - if your royalties are going up, even by nickles and dimes - congratulate yourself.

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  53. Don't worry about editing your first draft - just write and get the story out.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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