Friday, April 29, 2011

Punctuating Quotations

Some time ago I was reading the manuscript of a new critique partner when a punctuation mark sent me into a line editing frenzy. That mark was a period inside a quotation mark at the end of a non-dialogue sentence. But, as it turned out, we were both correct (though on opposite sides of the globe).

Something that increasingly perplexes those of us who write using British English is the insistence by writers using American English on slipping unrelated punctuation into a quotation. So insistent, in fact, that it’s even been included in the Chicago Manual of Style as correct style however illogical it might seem to some of us.

Here’s an example:
N.Am English: Michael told me that he was too “busy.” (period within quote marks)

UK English: Michael told me that he was too “busy”. (full stop outside quote marks)
For those of us using UK English rules it is very easy to determine that the punctuation mark following “busy” should occur outside the quote marks. Move the quoted word(s) to the middle of the sentence – if there’s no punctuation involved when the quote occurs elsewhere in the sentence then the punctuation is part of the sentence as a whole, not the quoted section, and should fall outside the quote marks.
N.Am and UK English: Michael told me that he was too “busy” to join us for dinner.
However, a comma attached to the quotation in the middle of a sentence can stymie an unaware British English writer trying to write for a publication requiring Chicago Manual of Style rules:
N.Am English: Michael told me that he was too “busy,” but he would try to meet us another day.

UK English: Michael told me that he was too “busy”, but he would try to meet us another day.

One way to remember the North American rule is to realize that quotations are treated like dialogue (except when they actually occur within dialogue).
N.Am and UK: “Michael won’t be joining us,” Julie said. “He’s too ‘busy’.”
Note how both the comma and the period fall within the dialogue’s quotation marks (reminiscent of the N.AM rule) but that ‘busy’ doesn’t include the period here (similar to the UK rule) because it’s already contained in dialogue.

How about you? Have you come across this difference in British and North American usage? Has it affected how you write for international publications?

Elsa Neal Elsa Neal is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Visit her website to download her free mini report on the Ten Most Frustrating Grammar Rules and How to Remember Them. Read up more on Grammar and Punctuation or browse through her Resources for Writers.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Voices in your Head, Part II

Last month I wrote about how to make your internal critics go away by writing about them, and told you that my critic was named Ed.  But Ed is only one of them – like most of us, I have several internal critics, nearly all of them nasty.  Here is a piece I wrote about Cousin Irene, the voice inside my head who is in charge of procrastination, laziness, and all the addictive distractions there are.  
Cousin Irene lurches into the room, trailing leavings from her purse – a dried-up lipstick, a wallet with a broken zipper, a scarf that has gum wadded in it, and of course those old used Kleenexes. She doesn’t pick anything up, because that is my job.

She says she is tired because she played so many games of computer solitaire. She plops down on the most comfortable chair in the room. Her bulk overflows the cushion and her dress rides up on her thighs; she is wearing nylon socks that only reach halfway up her meaty calves.

She tells me it’s too hot to write today, and besides there is nothing interesting to write about, and even if there was something interesting, I would not be able to find it. She demands a glass of wine, even though it’s only two in the afternoon. She asks what’s in the refrigerator, and then says I should make her a plate of something, whatever is there.

She turns on the TV; it is Judge Judy, which suits her fine, she likes to sneer at all those stupid people. She spills her wine on the front of her dress but doesn’t bother to wipe it off.

After I wrote this, I asked Cousin Irene to leave. She gave me a sly look out of her piggy little eyes and promised to visit me again tomorrow.

Oh joy.

Do you have a Cousin Irene? If you do, write about her. Otherwise, she just might move in with you forever.

Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 6 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 30 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tracking Those Changes

 We want to welcome Terry Odell to The Blood Red Pencil. Terry is an author who frequently shares tips on writing and marketing on her blog, and we thought it would be nice to have some of her tips here.

Thanks to Maryann for inviting me to the Blood Red Pencil. Not long ago, on my blog, I discussed dealing with three different editing projects. I also grumbled about using Track Changes, and Maryann thought the readers here might be interested in my take.

First, let me say I'm not saying Track Changes is a "bad thing." For editors, and for sharing information, it's an excellent tool. What I am saying, is that like any other tool, it has its good and not-so-good aspects. I have an exercise bike in our basement. It's an excellent fitness tool. Doesn't mean I have to enjoy using it.

With writing, some people love plotting. Others love writing description. Or dialogue. And there are just as many who feel exactly the opposite. But it's our job, and we learn to deal with the parts we don't love, since you don't get a book published by ignoring any aspect of the craft. Track Changes happens to be one of my "dreaded chores."

No manuscript is perfect. Editors are going to make changes. Track Changes means they're doing it right in the manuscript. That's their job. If there's a typo, they'll fix it. Did I hyphenate a word that shouldn't be hyphenated? They'll put it right. Did I mess up a pesky irregular verb? Again, no problem with an editor changing it. Track Changes lets you see everything your editor does to the manuscript. From their standpoint, it's a perfect editing tool. Despite working with numerous editors, and understanding the process, my gut reaction is still, "Hands off my baby."

Then there's the fact that it can be just plain tedious to deal with the changes. When I get a manuscript back from an editor, it's going to be full of markups. And it's my job to examine each and every one to make sure I agree. No editor is perfect. (Hint: To move from one change to the next, there's an icon in the reviewing toolbar, which helps.) There are also 'views' in the toolbar, where you can choose to look at the document as Final, Final Showing Markup, Original, and Original Showing Markup.

If the editor has removed something, there are boxes in the right margin. If she's added something there's a line in the left margin. Those can be tricky, because if all she's done is inserted a comma, it can be major eyestrain to find it.

I tend to take things a paragraph or two at a time, and if I agree, it's only a couple of steps to highlight the paragraphs, then click the "accept all changes" icon in the toolbar. (You can see some of the graphics on my blog post, and even more detailed explanations of the tool at this post from Jenny Hansen's blog.)

What about usage? I'd much rather an editor say, "current usage is email, not e-mail," and let me fix them all. Kind of "tell, don't show." Saves a lot of that red stuff in the margins. And, at the submissions stage, you need to format your manuscript according to the guidelines of your agent or publisher. So "helpful" editorial changes might not be so helpful if you have to undo them later. When it's time to submit, I can make blanket changes to things like font, margins, where a chapter starts on the page, headers, etc.

I've been fortunate in that all my editors also use the comments (love it!) feature where they tell me I should consider changing more than simple wording, spelling, or grammar. What gets messy is working in the document when they ask for more details, and you have to rewrite, insert, or move big chunks of text. Here, I'll work in a separate document, but when I replace the old with the new, it's going to create an explosion of color in the margin.

Track Changes? There are times when I'd rather be working out on my exercise bike, but in the end, it's my name on the book cover. What about you? Do you like to use Word Tracking?

Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. Her newest book, Where Danger Hides, is the second in her Blackthorne, Inc. romantic suspense series and is available for pre-order at Amazon now. While you're waiting, you can read the first, When Danger Calls. To see all her books, visit her Web site. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Tricks of the Trade- Give Sentences Punch

The following is taken from my writing seminar manual:

Writers have on their palettes some unique figures of speech that add dazzle to sentences and turn the ordinary into the unique. Consider the following when you are writing your next piece.

Hyperbole – an extreme exaggeration. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. The spider was the size of a basketball.

Irony – an expression that is the exact opposite of what you mean. Of course, I’ll have time to do that. I’m only working seventy hours this week, and it’s my turn to cook supper, do the dishes, and clean the house. Irony lacks the hurtful element of sarcasm and can make a point that might be missed if stated another way.

Metonymy – substituting one name for another. The press was invited. (Reporters were invited.) The White House had no comment on the situation. (The President had no comment…) The F.B.I. came to my front door. (Someone from the F.B.I. came to my door.)

Metaphor – says something is something else. His eyes were empty windows. She’s a gem. That man is a pig.

Onomatopoeia – a word that expresses the sound of something. Bees buzz. Wind whistles. Snakes hiss.

Paradox – an apparent contradiction that states a subtle truth. He works harder at not working than anybody I know. She can’t carry a tune, but she sang a whole score when the police questioned her.

Personification – attributing living qualities to inanimate objects. The engine hummed a sweet song. His expression spoke volumes. The raging river dared us to cross it.

Simile – says something is like something else. The clear night sky sparkled like diamond dust on black velvet. Although he’d just eaten lunch, he gobbled down the hamburger like a starving dog.

These figures of speech add zest to our stories and articles, painting word pictures for the reader that make our works come to life and take on personality. Use them sparingly for greatest effectiveness, but do use them. Consider this too: when we make words take on new faces by stretching their meanings, we add strength and imagery to our works, turning the black and white printed page into a colorful art form.

What techniques do you use to hook your readers with spectacular prose or poetry?


Linda Lane believes that teaching writers to write well can solve many of the major problems that plague today's publishing industry. She can be reached at

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Pacing in Writing

Pacing is important to writing. And no, I don’t mean walking back and forth, trying to figure out ways not to sit down at the computer and write!

Pacing is used to control the speed of the plot. Pacing is manipulating time. Most writing gurus these days advise to “arrive late and leave early.” By this, they mean, start in the middle of the action or with an element of suspense that will help prompt the reader to keep reading.

You don’t need to set up the scene with lots of description and backstory. We don’t necessarily need to know what this person’s history is and how he/she got there, just to know that he/she is in some kind of problem or crisis and needs to solve it.

A crisis moment has to be in what I call “real time”—written as if it is happening right now (even if you are using past tense). Summarizing or including it as a flashback does not create the same amount of tension. Summarizing is simply “telling” us what happened, rather than showing our character in trouble. Backstory has already happened, so that makes it less active. The reader knows it has already happened and what the outcome is, to a certain extent, because our hero is still with us. So it’s not as “immediate.”

Summary certainly can be used effectively. It covers a longer period of time in a shorter passage. You don’t need to write paragraphs or pages describing the trip from one point to the other. Using summary in this case, helps with pacing, and speeds up the story by “leaving out the boring parts,” as Elmore Leonard advises.

You can control pacing with sentence structure. Long, flowing sentences can slow down the action. Short sentences build tension by propelling the reader forward.

Dialogue and internal monologues can affect pacing, by changing the rhythm . Short interchanges of dialogue between characters increase the reading speed. Long speeches by a certain character will slow it down. If you feel like the story needs to pick up the pace, look for areas with too much dialogue, internal monologue, or exposition. Or vice versa, not enough.

Does each paragraph serve to move the story forward? Could you cut or condense that paragraph (or line or page) and still preserve the meaning? Can you cut your first and last paragraphs in a scene and keep the meaning.

Does anyone have other pacing tips to add?

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A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

To Writer with Love ~ Writers write; Editors edit

Some might read the title and say, "But editors write and writers edit. What are you talking about?"

Yes, I know they do both; however, writers need to understand that not all editors write when it comes to their editorial services. And knowing this, and researching accordingly can help the writer get the exact services he or she needs.

As an editor, I have a site where I talk about my philosophy of editing, state the type of editing I do, and offer prospective clients the opportunity to read what past, current, and repeat clients have to say about my services. I explicitly state what I do on the site: I edit. Prospective clients go there and they know what I am about.

When I talk to these prospective clients, I give them my spiel, much of which is expressed on my site. My goal as an editor is to help the client develop the strongest project he or she can. In my evaluations, I try to talk about what I see in their works in a way that teaches the writers, that gives them information so that future works can be stronger because of what they learned.

My clients come into a relationship with me realizing that I am their editor...and in a sense, I am their mentor.

However, I am not their writer.

And this is something I think writers looking for editors need to understand. In scouring editor sites, I saw that most--like me--talk about editorial services--the editing part of the writing process. Writers need to know that if they are expecting substantial revising and rewriting of their projects, then just looking for an editor will not help. They will need to look for editors that perform that type of service or they will need to look for a ghostwriter (and many editors are ghostwriters, too).

What this means is writers need to do their homework. They need to think about what their manuscript needs and research editors who provide those specific services. When you know what you need, you can specifically state that to potential editors, instead of sending an e-mail that starts, "Hi, I need an editor for my project." You'll get exactly what you requested, an editor and not what you may need, which is someone who will help in the revising and rewriting components of the writing process.

Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell is now available for purchase. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, promoting her debut project, writing screenplays, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Writing that matters

Why should a company pay you for your writing?

In today's tough publishing industry, so tenuously held aloft by shredding economic tethers, this question has never been more relevant. If you are trying to earn money from your writing, you've hopefully given some thought to answering this question. If your answer is "My book is just like Nora Roberts," you're on thin ice—Nora Roberts is already doing that quite well, thank you.

What do you have to offer the world? How can you make your writing important enough to sustain you through what may become many lean years? How can you discover your true material, that story that only you can write? The following questions, answered quickly, might lead you in a useful direction.

1. Let’s say you’re going to write a fictional story. Is your main character a man or woman? Why?

Humans are intensely interested in this primal question: Is it a boy or a girl? And if it's not clear, or a bit of both? Ooh, even more intriguing!

2. What was happening the last time you cried? The last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe? The last time you were so angry that you want to hurt someone?

This speaks to what moves you. And what moves you will move your readers.

3. People write for many reasons. Why do you write? What are you seeking?
Circle all that apply:

  • Fame
  • Fortune
  • Meaning
  • Part-time income
  • Beauty
  • God
  • Pain relief
  • Legacy
  • To inspire others/self
  • To entertain
  • To learn
  • To work something through
  • To educate
  • Other: _____________________

This question speaks to how you define "what matters."

4. What are you interested in writing—a journal, articles, an essay, memoir, novel (if so, what kind?), nonfiction book, poetry?

Different genres reveal your concerns by raising different questions. Will the hero and heroine get together? Who will win the war? How will inner conflict be resolved? Will evil be vanquished?

Science fiction, like a nonfiction book, might ask how technology will impact this problem. A memoir, like a novel, might ask how the character will prevail against the odds. An article might ask who else suffers with this problem, and what solution current research supports. A poem might ask how one image can represent a truth about the world, or what our senses can be trusted to tell us. Journal entries might ask how the writer will ever sort through the mess of her life. An essay might ask how the author's perspective can impact others.

5. What “real characters” have you known in your life? Who have you truly admired, literary or real? Who have you reviled? What details set them apart?

Characters you feel deeply about can lead you toward your true story material.

6. What makes a house a home? What room do you love most in your home (think of details that support your answer)? Is there a place outside that you particularly love (use details)? Is there a city, building, outdoor space, or room in your world or story that is “hot” (rife with conflict)? Why?

This speaks to the way the settings we choose reveal us, as authors and characters. The central setting in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist J.R. Moehringer's memoir, The Tender Bar, is a barroom occupied the men who raised him within it; Moehringer ghost-wrote Andre Agassi's autobiography, Open, where the author plays out inner conflict on the tennis court.

7. Complete this sentence: everything changed in my life the day that ______________. What life experiences can you draw from? How have they shaped you? How did these events reveal your character?

This is an inciting incident: the moment beyond which all changes, that raises a question for your protagonist and your reader and tips him into the story. What happened that mattered so much it tipped you into the story of your life?

8. Stories are best told through the eyes of an “outsider.” When were you an outsider? When were you an insider, and what outsiders impacted you?

This speaks to a powerful point of view—the perspective of your story. Readers will relate to this perspective because at some point or another we've all felt the pain of being an outsider.

9. What philosophies and religious notions shape the way you believe the way the world works? What life experiences impacted them? Compare before and after.

You don't have to work hard to build philosophical underpinnings into your story. They will simply be there, revealed in every decision you make. Identifying the beliefs revealed through your story, however—even after they reveal themselves to you in the first draft—will help you make the most of them.

10. Think of a story you like to share about your own life. Think of a favorite movie. Now think of a favorite book. What do all three have in common?

What does this say about what matters to you?

**BONUS: You wrote ten books before you died, and now your fans have gathered at your funeral. What would you like them to say about you?

I'll share my bonus answer: At the end of my life, should I be so lucky as to have a group of readers at my grave to see me off, I hope they'll say, "Those books were so her."

How about you?


Kathryn Craft is a developmental editor at, an independent manuscript evaluation and line editing service. Formerly a dance critic and arts journalist, she now writes women's fiction and memoir. The first chapter of her memoir, Standoff at Ronnie's Place, modified as a stand-alone essay, has been published online by Mason's Road, the online journal of Fairfield University's MFA program. She blogs about Healing through Writing.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Let’s Be Friends - Social Sites and Marketing

March Madness may be over but I thought I would write about the madness of promoting and get some help from our fearless leader, Dani Greer at Blog Book Tours. She is always passing me a promo tip and then pushing me to move down the court and put it in some basket.

Most recently, she suggested I ask everyone to "like" my author page on Amazon. Then she asked if I posted a link on my blog, Web site and every social site I belong to. Well, of course I had not. I write. I don't think of things like this. So here’s a little discussion we had and would like to share with you, readers and authors. Please join us in the comments if you have suggestions of your own.

Maryann: Dani, how on earth does a writer balance writing time and promoting time?

Dani: Maryann, promotion just requires a plan and an hour or so a day. Authors should develop their own blogs by posting at least three times a week. They should also promote their blogs and their books daily on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The best way to promote is indirectly, by offering something to your readers, like information or advice that will benefit another in some way. The hard-sell is old school marketing.

Maryann: I've learned from other authors and marketing experts that writers should not use BSP - Blatant Self Promotion - on social networks. That the purpose is to build a relationship and then people will like you and eventually buy your book.

Dani: Exactly. Offer your wonderful and lovable self first, and your book sales will follow. This takes time, of course, because you’re building a relationship. But it’s really the only way to lay the foundation for current and future sales. No matter how well you write, you can’t shirk this part of the business of publishing.

Maryann: Dani, you encourage a more direct approach in many cases. Do you think authors should post something like: If you love mysteries, you'll love Open Season, the first book in a mystery series by Maryann Miller?

Dani: But of course! As long as you give more than you get every day, it’s okay to offer a link and buy suggestion. People won’t necessarily save your buy link – you have to remind them now and again. When you’re writing about your books on your blog, for example, you should always offer the convenience of a link to your book for your readers, so they don’t get irritated by having to search for a place to purchase a book that sounds good to them. Don’t just put this link in your side-bar, add it to the bottom of each blog post.

Maryann: Most writers are very willing to support each other and I belong to several groups that cross-promote. I find it easier to brag about someone else's book than my own. Dani, when have we gone too far in asking our fellow authors for help in promoting?

Dani: I’d err on the side of caution in getting a review you really want. Request direct and individual help, rather than throwing out the query to a group and asking for private email responses. The latter leaves too much to chance. Also, don’t nag an individual too much. A reminder is okay, but if you don’t get a response after several requests, move along to someone else.

Maryann: Recently I have read a few articles indicating that blogging is fading as a promotional tool. I may still blog because I am an opinionated person and spent so many years doing newspaper columns, this type of writing is in my blood. Dani, since you are the Queen of Blogging, what is your opinion as to the benefits of blogging for promotional purposes?

Dani: I recently read that the piano is dead as a popular musical instrument. Well, hello! I don’t think so. I feel the same way about blogging, and that it’s one of the best tools an author has to influence and engage the reading public, and to draw attention to their titles.

Maryann: What are the most important elements a writer should have on their blog?

Dani: I just happen to have a blog post about that at my Blog Book Tours advice blog. Imagine that! As to the Like button, whenever you see one on, on a blog, in a newspaper article, use it if you truly do like what you’re seeing. It’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to share information on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. You don’t even have to type much anymore to get the word out. Go with the flow and “like” with reckless abandon!

Maryann: I am really glad that Dani pushes me like she does. I have scored a few points with her assist, but more importantly, we have such a good time in our exchanges. She is an excellent mentor and her blogs are most informative. Her sense of humor helps the medicine go down, so to speak.

Dani: Medicine. Are we talking about the old-fashioned kind like a good brandy? I Like that idea a lot!

One last thing. Let’s all get connected on a couple of social sites like Facebook. You can follow at Twitter here and (be)friend me at Facebook here. Maryann, you’re next and everyone else can leave their links in the comments.

Maryann: Dani, thanks so much for all you do to support and encourage writers. Start pouring the brandy and I will be right over. Connect with me on Twitter here, and on Facebook by clicking  My blog is and my Web site is

Dani Greer is a founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil. She writes, edits, critiques, blogs, and is Special Projects Coordinator for Little Pickle Press, the coolest environmentally-conscious children's book publisher ever. New and intriguing projects are always of interest to her.

Maryann Miller is an author, freelance editor, and part-time farmer. She will be selling blackberries and "home-grown" books at the farmer's market in Winnsboro, Texas until the berries run out. 

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Deep Point of View – How to Avoid Head-Hopping, Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2 of this topic, I gave examples of deep point of view or close third-person POV.

Here’s one more example: Say you’re writing a romance, and you’re in the heroine’s point of view, showing her thoughts, perceptions and reactions. The hero, whom she’s just met under unfortunate circumstances, is angry. You’ll show his thoughts and reactions, not from inside him at that point (What the hell is going on here? he thought. What’s she trying to pull off, anyway?), but by what the heroine is seeing and perceiving—his tense posture, hunched shoulders, clenched fists, furrowed brows, set mouth, clipped tone of voice, angry words, etc.

The general rule of thumb is “one scene, one viewpoint.” Or even better, wait for a new chapter to change the point of view to someone else’s. If you change the viewpoint within a scene, it’s best to do it only once, and leave a blank space before you start the next person’s point of view. Ping-ponging back and forth can be jarring and confusing to the reader. This is what’s referred to as “head-hopping.” Some writers go so far as to leave three asterisks (* * *) and spaces above and below to indicate a switch in viewpoint within a scene, but I think that’s too jarring and disruptive to the flow of action. Three asterisks, centered, are best reserved to indicate a shift in place and time.

So why is it so important to avoid switching viewpoints (head-hopping) within scenes?

According to Cynthia VanRooy, “When a reader becomes emotionally engaged in a book, he or she enters into the story. The reader understands the book world isn’t real, but in order to fully enjoy the story, he or she chooses to temporarily pretend otherwise, or to suspend their disbelief. […]

“Every time you shift the reader from one character to another, they are jarred out of their suspension of disbelief and reminded that…they’re only reading a story. Do that often enough and they’ll stop reading your story. Scene changes or new chapters are the best and least disruptive places to change POV.”

And my advice is to take it one step further and make sure your character’s observations and reactions are written in the style that your POV character would use. If your viewpoint character is a 9-year-old boy, he’ll see and describe things around him differently than if it’s a 16-year-old girl, a 45-year-old man, or a 65-year-old woman. And I’m not just talking about their dialogue, which of course has to suit their age, background, social standing, etc. The narrative descriptions of what they’re seeing, hearing, and feeling
should be in that person’s words, to maintain the tone and mood and voice of that character. So in a scene that’s in the 9-year-old boy’s POV, don’t describe what’s going on around him with long, fancy words and complete, grammatically correct sentences.

Make sure each of your characters has distinctive speech patterns, and when you're in their point of view, describe their surroundings in those same speech patterns. That way the reader is able to really experience their world as they perceive it.

A quick way to check whose POV you’re in is to get out the highlighters or colored pens and choose a different color for each of your main characters. Pick your protagonist’s color, then start highlighting or underlining sentences that describe scenes, people, perceptions, and emotions strictly from his or her POV.

Do the same for other characters, with their color. When you’re done, you should have paragraphs, and preferably scenes, of only one color. If you have another color creeping into that scene, see if you can rewrite those sentences from the dominating character’s POV. If you have a number of colors within one scene, you’ve got some revisions to do. And as Stephen King says, “Writing is rewriting.” Keep on writing!
© Jodie Renner,, March 2011
Resource for Part 3: “POV or: Whose Head Am I in, Anyway?” by Cynthia VanRooy

Guest blogger Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction manuscript editor, specializing in thrillers, romantic suspense, mysteries, romance, YA, and historical fiction. Jodie’s services range from developmental and substantive editing to light final copy editing and proofreading, as well as manuscript critiques. Check out Jodie’s website at and her blog, dedicated to advice and resources for fiction writers, at

Posted by Maryann Miller who is always happy to be reminded about whose head she should be in. 

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Friday, April 15, 2011

A Foolish Consistency

 Today we welcome Karen Brees to The Blood Red Pencil for the first of several guest posts she will share with us. Thank you, Karen.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (no slouch himself when it came to writing) said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”

Maybe so, but if you’re a writer, you’d darn well better be consistent. If your heroine had short brown hair on page 25, she’d better not have long, blonde locks on page 27, unless she donned a wig on page 26.

Is your villain right-handed in the beginning and left-handed later on? Hmmm. Somewhere you had a brilliant idea that the mystery had to have been committed by a southpaw, so you changed Rudolfo’s handedness.

Catching these goofs is important. The problem is you see what you meant to say. What you wrote, however, may be different and that can create credibility problems for your plot, your characters, and your career in writing.

Consistent Expectations

Your characters’ actions need to be consistent with their personalities and their roles in the novel. Real life may be full of coincidences and at times be too bizarre to seem real, and that’s fine. Life is strange. Fiction, however, needs to be believable. The story line needs to make sense. You’re allowed one coincidence. Maybe. And it had better work.

Getting Out of Trouble

You’ve written yourself into a corner. There’s no way out.
The entire enemy army has the house surrounded.
Or the hero is trapped in the box canyon.
Or the heroine has ingested the deadly poison for which there is no antidote.

What to do?

And then I woke up. It had all been a dream.

This is a cheap shot. It’s the chicken way out and you’re goose is cooked, to mix some aphorisms. It’s inconsistent with what you’ve written before. It tells your readers you’re a lousy writer. You owe your readers more.

Each action creates a reaction. This reaction needs to follow logically from the action. For example, if your character runs a red light, there are many possible, logical, consistent reactions.

He gets a ticket.
He causes an accident.
He gets his wife to the hospital in time to deliver the baby.
He eludes the killers who are stuck two cars behind him.

And so forth.

If the reaction is illogical and inconsistent, your readers are left scratching their heads and may quite possibly shelve your book, never to return to it or anything else you’ve written.

For example,

Elizabeth preened before the mirror. She blotted her lipstick with the hem of her robe before joining the other postulants at Mass.

Now, if Elizabeth is hiding out at the convent (think Sister Act), this is well and good. However, if she’s more like Mother Theresa and is devoting her life to the Church, this isn’t going to work.

Know your characters. Keep them true to themselves and they’ll never let you down.


Writing as Karen K. Brees, Ph.D. - The Complete Idiot's Guide to Preserving Food (Alpha Books 2009)
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Character of the Character

There are many ways to show the character of the people in your stories. One way to set them apart is through things associated with them – their car, their house or apartment, something they treasure. Look around your own home. What makes your living room different from anyone else’s living room? Is it ultra modern? Country? Full of antiques? Is there one thing that you just love – the coffee table, the stuffed bear sitting in the rocking chair, the blanket draped over the chair? Why? Was the coffee table handmade by your grandfather? Did the stuffed bear belong to your daughter? Do you like to snuggle under the blanket while you read? Now think about your major characters. What would they have in their living room and why?

What about the house as a whole. What color are the walls? All white? Pale pink? Green? Is each room a different color, some rooms multiple colors? What does that say about that character?

What kind of cars do they drive and why? A hybrid? A Hummer? A sedan? A luxury car? Is it new or second hand? Is it so old they hate driving it and they’re in constant fear of it breaking down in traffic? Does that make them avoid getting on the main highway in rush hour? Does it make them take the main roads instead of less traveled roads at night? Does it mean they always keep their cell phone with them? Does their Hummer or giant SUV make them feel powerful, invulnerable?

Also, consider quirks and habits. Does he carry a pack of cigarettes in his pocket, even though he gave up smoking ten years ago? Why? Does she never leave home without her planner, even when she’s not on her way to the office? Does he always answer his cell even when in a restaurant? When the traffic’s heavy, does she whip out the newspaper and read, peeking over the top occasionally as she inches forward?

When it comes to characters, quirks and habits can set them apart. But it’s also the things they carry with them or keep in their lives that can establish their “character” and make them come alive to the reader.

When it comes to your book or story, how did you establish the characters?
Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, freelance editor and writing coach. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. In addition, her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its twelfth year of publication. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn – or catch her April 30, 2011 at Books 'n Authors 'n All That Jazz in Weatherford, Texas, where she and Sylvia Dickey Smith will be talking about “Jazzing Up Your Characters.”

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

10 Signs of An Approaching Deadline

10. Your normally loquacious imagination now mumbles "Umm..."

9. You've worn a path in the carpet from your pacing.

8. You notice you're typing more typos than actual words.

7. You have to describe a sunset. The only word that comes to mind is 'pretty'.

6. You're drinking cold coffee.

5. The manuscript you swore yesterday was near-to-perfect now reveals itself as riddled with errors.

4. Your knowledge of rudimentary grammar and spelling seems to have disappeared along with your typing skills.

3. Your closest relationship is with your thesaurus (see #7).

2. You're convinced this manuscript is the one that will give away that your previous success was an error and you actually have no talent at all.

1. You promise yourself to never put yourself through this again. You know you're lying.

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Elspeth Antonelli is an author and playwright. Her twelve murder mystery games and two plays are available through She has also contributed articles to the European writers' magazine "Elias". Her blog, "It's A Mystery," explores the writing process with a touch of humor. She is on Twitter as @elspethwrites.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Leave A Tip On the Blood-Red Pencil Today

Spring is in the air. Buds are blooming into beautiful flowers.

Some manuscripts are still buds or seedlings waiting to realize their full potential. Others are almost there. One cogent tip may be all that's needed to fertilize a manuscript so it can leap from an author's computer onto Amazon, Smashwords, maybe a traditional publisher, or another place in the universe where its beauty can be appreciated.

Today, as in every second Tuesday of the month, you're invited to Leave A Tip On The Blood Red Pencil. Share something you've learned about writing. Even if the tip seems obvious or too tiny to mention, do it anyway. Writing is a learning experience, and not everyone knows exactly what you do.
If you agree that someone else's tip is terrific, you're more than welcome to say so. Stop by more than once, check out the other tips, and decide whether you'd like to use one or more in your writing.

I'll start with one -

Be sure to vary sentence structure instead of starting every sentence the same way. You can do this by making some if them short, some long, some starting with prepositions or conjunctions, some without.

Okay, now, it's your turn to leave a tip. Don't forget to also leave your name, along with one website or blog link. It's not mandatory, but is much appreciated, if you mention where you've heard of us.
Morgan Mandel

Killer Career is 99 cents on Kindle and Smashwords

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Monday, April 11, 2011

To Writer with Love ~ Formatting

I've been an editor for nearly ten years, and in every one of those years, I have preached the necessity for writers to practice a life-long learning of the writing craft. With the proliferation of technology and writers' increasing ability to self-publish (print or electronic books), it is more important than ever for writers to grab the reins and study--writing and industry.

One stop that most writers come to in their journey to Publishdom is Editorland. This is where writers submit their works to those who can help polish the manuscript and assist in making it a strong literary product before writers decide to either self-publish or submit their works to agents. Now, we all know editors vary in style and in purpose. Some focus solely on the project; whereas, others focus on the project and the writer--making the editing experience a teachable moment. That's for a whole other post.

Despite the differences in types of editors and what they all do, I feel fairly safe in saying there are a few things we all come to expect from writers--and quite honestly, writers should come to expect to see from themselves. I'm going to address one big thing in this post: FORMATTING.

Presentation matters. Would you go to an interview at a Fortune 500 company in a pair of wrinkled pants you pulled out the hamper, a T-shirt, sneakers, and hair that hasn't seen a comb in a long, long time? Then why would you present a manuscript to an editor that actually does not look like a manuscript?

Why is it important to make sure your manuscript looks like a manuscript? There are several reasons, but here's one that gets to the bottom line. Editors edit. And for the most part, our fees reflect that--editing. The minute we get a manuscript in which we will be doing major restructuring, too, that fee goes up...and usually it goes up a lot. Save yourself the embarrassment (of not doing it yourself) and money, and well, do it yourself.

I could easily rattle off a list here of some "guidelines" to assist with this, but all I would be doing is reinventing the wheel because there are scores of sites that offer this information [like here, here, and here], for free, mind you, to assist writers today in this endeavor. So, there really is no excuse for this one. There is knowledge out there to be had...that you don't even have to pay for.

The industry is far too competitive for writers NOT to know at LEAST the basics. You want to be an "author," then as a writer you need to BRING it. Present editors with a manuscript that shows you care about your literary project as much as you expect them to.

Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell is now available for purchase. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, promoting her debut project, writing screenplays, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Cues from the Coach: Thwarting a Mutiny

Last month’s post on taming characters drew a great comment from Kate Kyle, who wrote, “I . . . thought this post was going to be about a situation I’ve heard . . . from some ‘pantsers’ - when a character takes over their book and how to ‘tame’ your characters so they don’t take over YOUR book.”

Characters often develop minds of their own, so we need to be careful lest they take our story to a place we do not want it to go. On the other hand, we don’t want to stuff them into a mold that reduces them to puppets on a string. Where’s the balance between these extremes?

It helps to understand the difference between character driven and plot driven stories. One driven by character focuses on emotions (often negative) and motivation. But when people take precedence over plot, they may be prone to mutinous uprisings—your story could become their story. A plot driven story is based on action; and the people, who may fade into overwhelming events, are less inclined to take over. Great books combine the best of both these forms and balance them to create a powerful story. Remember this: compelling plots populated with intriguing characters sell books.

How do you let your characters tell their story without taking over your story? Good planning is the key. Last month’s “Cues from the Coach” addressed detailed sketches to define and individualize characters. Now put those characters in a dynamic situation (plot), and you’re on your way to writing a great book in which characters and plot collaborate to create the story. Who directs that collaboration—that “movie” you are creating in the mind of your readers? You, the author. However, keep in mind that a good director allows for flexibility if a scene isn’t working as anticipated.

In my first novel, I planned to have the antagonist arrested and imprisoned at the end of the book. Keeping him true to his character, however, decreed a different outcome. His personality, attitude, actions, and determination to “steamroller” everyone who got in his way wouldn’t allow him to get off with a few years behind bars. He had to pay the ultimate price because that’s what he chose for himself. Did he change my story? No. Did he take it to a place I didn’t want it to go? No, but he could have. While I allowed him to be himself, I did not give him free rein to direct the show—even though he wanted that.

How do you handle characters who want to change your story?


Editor Linda Lane coaches beginning and experienced authors through rewrites of their manuscripts. By using their own works rather than a generic text as a basis for lessons, she individualizes each course to fit the needs of the writer and to enhance the development of a marketable book. Visit her at

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Importance of Subtext in Story - The Story Book by David Baboulene

A few years ago I took a writing course that covered subtext because it was an element of writing that fascinated me. That course went through a lot of explanation of how characterisation, dialogue and even setting contribute to the development of subtext and instructed us to plan to build subtext into our stories. I was still fascinated, but not much clearer on exactly how one would go about “building” subtext. Subtext seemed this tenuous thing that should be left to writers of high-brow literary works.

When I was offered the chance to review The Story Book by David Baboulene, I was impressed to discover that David was writing a Ph.D. thesis on subtext with the conclusion that readers and audiences prefer stories with deeper levels of subtext.

In The Story Book, David clears up the mystery of subtext in a few lines:
David Baboulene
“Most writers think they must write subtext in order to deliver an underlying story. This is wrong... If the story is created using knowledge gaps, then the real story is received in subtext.”*
David explains that the disparity between what the author, characters, and reader knows, or thinks they know, is what delivers the subtext. There are twelve types of “knowledge gap”, but these all fall into one of two categories: Revelation Gaps and Privilege Gaps.

Revelation gaps are common in mystery stories, where the detective is (hopefully) a few steps ahead of the reader and teases the reader into reading more deeply for clues. Privilege gaps are found in thrillers where the reader often gains advance knowledge of impending danger, for example, and “watches” in suspense to see if the protagonist will fall into the author’s trap.

The reason these two genres, in particular, are so popular is due to the work that the reader has to do to follow the story. Think of subtext as a little bit of mystery in each scene, with a variation on who understands the clues the most (reader or character). Subtext works because it engages the reader and when a reader is guessing, assuming, and thinking about a story s/he enjoys that story so much more.

* Page 30, The Story Book by David Baboulene, DreamEngine Media Ltd., 2010

You can read more of my review of The Story Book and my conversation with David on HearWriteNow.  David can be contacted through his website or blog. You can follow David's blog book tour here.

The Story Book by David Baboulene is available from Amazon UK, and on Kindle from

Chapter 4 of The Story Book reviewed by Elsa Neal of A review copy of The Story Book was sent to the reviewer by the author.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time out for a little fun

Since the humor offered here doesn't always have to connect to writing, I thought I would share a bit of humor from my friend, Tracy Farr, that is all about goats.  Enjoy.....

Never trust a goat
I have three goats – a mamma and two twin daughters. I bought them from a little girl who knocked on my door one day, asking if I'd like to buy some goats. And since goats like to eat grass, I figured that I’d let them eat it (instead of me having to mow it), leaving me free to nap on the couch. I give a lot of credence to napping on the couch, especially when I’m supposed to be doing yard work.

I actually enjoy watching my goats, but the only reason they tolerate me is because I bring them food every now and then. If it wasn't for the food, they'd steal the credit card right out of my wallet, and head for the mall to hang out with their little goat friends and eat Chinese food. It's a good thing they can't drive, but I suspect while I’m asleep they’re secretly learning how.

I’ve had these goats for almost a year now, and although they haven’t learned a thing from me, I have learned plenty from them.

Goats are sneaky. Don't trust them. They'll look you right in the eye as if to say, "You're my best friend," but when you turn your back, they'll head-butt you and start eating your new khaki pants. Sounds like people I know, but that's a different story.

Goats are noisy when they're hungry, and they’re always hungry. Their cries sound like the cries of children in pain – and the goats know it. Don't go running outside to see what's causing them agony. It's a trap. And they know how to build excellent traps.

Never give your goats a name. They never come when you call, so why go through the hassle. Besides, if you get tired of the goats and decide to barbecue them next Friday night for your visiting relatives from El Paso, who’s going to want to sit down to a plate full of Sassy or Hoppy?

It’s best to feed goats things like carrots, lettuce, and bananas, but never three-week-old chocolate cake. If you do, they'll stop eating the grass – and can you really blame them? No animal in its right mind would gladly munch on weeds and poison ivy after eating three-week-old chocolate cake. I know I wouldn’t. And if the goats stop eating grass, that means you have to mow it, which defeats the purpose of having goats in the first place.

Never turn your back on a goat. They have sharp horns. You may consider a simple impaling as mere playfulness, but I guarantee they mean to draw blood – and lots of it. They don't want you towering over them. They want you on the ground, writhing in agony, your life's blood pouring out of gaping wounds. As you look up at them, you'll notice their teeth are bigger than you thought. And why are they so big? "The better to eat you with, my dear."

Goats can escape anything. Go ahead, pen them in as tightly as you can. Put little handcuffs around their little legs, put a burlap sack over their heads, throw them in a locked chest, bury the chest six feet deep, pour concrete in the hole, and park your car over the top. The goats will be out by morning, eating the neighbor's prized tomatoes – the ones your neighbor had planned to exhibit at the county fair.

Neighbors are very protective about their prized tomatoes. It's best to have your checkbook handy when they come to visit.

Goats don’t like standing out in the rain. They look so sad if they have to. So, you go to Lowe’s, buy some materials, draw up some plans and build them a goat shed. The goats love it and stand under it every time it rains, which gives you a wonderful sense of accomplishment. When it’s not raining, and the goats get bored of eating grass, they start eating the shed until it falls down. Goats don’t have a grateful bone in their bodies.

I'd eat my goats, but I promised the little girl who sold them to me that I wouldn't. Which leads me to the last thing I've learned: Never make promises to little girls selling goats. They're in cahoots with each other.

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Tracy Farr is a teacher living in East Texas who enjoys writing funny stuff and playing a banjo. You can get a  free copy of his e-book Never Trust a Goat HERE
Posted by Maryann Miller, who also has goats she does not trust. She also has books that she does trust. For information about her books and her editing services visit her Web site.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Make the Most Of Your Spring With Ask the Editor Free-For-All

Spring is a wonderful season. Everything seems possible when the air grows warmer, the grass turns green and tulips, hyacinths and daffodils begin to bloom.

In the dead of winter, it's easy to get down, doubt our talent, and wonder if we have what it takes to write a first book or the next; yet in the Spring, when the birds chirp and the sky is blue, all things seem possible.

With the change of seasons, along with the promise of new life, also comes showers and storms. Questions plague us. Is our manuscript as good as it can be? Some parts don't look right. Maybe the whole thing should be pitched and we should start over.

Don't give up. You may only need a little fertilizer to get your manuscript ready to bloom in all its richness and beauty.

That's where our monthly Ask the Editor Free-For-All comes in. Today, and every first Tuesday of the month, The Blood-Red Pencil sponsors our Ask the Editor Free-For-All. I send e-mails to e-groups, Facebook, other social networks, blogs, and everywhere else I can think of, inviting members to come and ask questions.The feature's goal is to offer valuable tips about writing basics, manuscript submission to publishers or agents, and self-publishing, be it by print on demand, Kindle or other formats.

Don't be afraid to ask a question. Nothing you ask is silly or dumb. We're all here to grow and learn as writers. Also, if one of our Editors can't supply an answer, we'll be happy to recommend someone who does.

To Submit A Question, Follow These Simple Steps:

Leave a comment in the comment section below. Include your name and blog url or website, not only because it's great for promo, but also to distinguish you as a real person. (One link only, please!) It also helps to come back and check to make sure your comment goes through. At times, Blogger loves to test people to make certain they're not robots, in which case you may need to repeat keystrokes to get a comment to stick.

Our Editors will drop by today and answer questions in the comment section. If your question could use a detailed explanation, one of our Editors may decide to devote an entire blog post on that topic. When that happens, you'll receive extra promotion, along with the possibility of forwarding jpegs of your profile photo and cover, along with a buy link.

It's not required, but always welcome if you leave an e-mail address along with your comment. Also, if you wish, please let us know where you've heard about our Ask the Editor Free-For-All.

Since others will be asking questions, you might want to come back later to read what else shows up. Some of our participants use e-group Digests, so questions and answers might carry over through Wednesday or Thursday.

Here's hoping all our manuscripts achieve their potential and bloom into bestsellers!

Morgan Mandel
Killer Career is 99 cents on
Kindle and Smashwords.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Can You Read This? (If so, you need an editor)

if yuo can raed tihs, you hvae a sgtrane mnid, too.
Can you raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

I don’t know about you, but after I’ve worked on a manuscript for weeks, months, even years, I become so close to the work that I cannot look at it objectively anymore. As you witnessed with the above example, your eye will see a misspelled word or a typo and your brain registers the word that it’s supposed to be.

A Seattle newspaper reported a story about a new ramp at the ferry terminal that was operated by a "system of wenches." (Those serving girls moonlighting after handing out grog at Ye Olde English Tavern?) Oops!

A Michigan county had to spend $40,000 reprinting ballots after the "L" was left out of the word "public." A big Oops!

There are many more reasons to hire an independent editor, but these are good ones.

Even editors need editing! It’s invaluable to have another pair of eyes look at your work. It’s surprising what they’ll pick up. And you certainly don’t want your manuscript tossed because of a typo on the first page!

Do you have your favorite public typo story?


A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently been released. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Busted!—Janet Fitch and her unlikable character, Part 2

In yesterday's post we took a look at five ways author Janet Fitch tries to win our support for unlikable protagonist Josie Tyrell in her novel Paint it Black (if you follow this link to you can use their "Look Inside" function to see several of these pages). Fitch doesn't stop at five, however—Fitch imbues every single line with something that helps engage the reader as her character moves toward that moment, eight pages in, where her life will change forever.

Here I'd like to highlight seven more techniques you can imitate to curry favor for your own difficult protagonist.

6. Fitch grounds this off-beat character in familiar domestic bliss:
She opened the door, threw her key in the red bowl, and called out, “Hey, Michael?”
7. Then, a one-word sentence:
Uh-oh, what’s wrong? We learn that Michael, for the first time ever, had needed “space” to paint and has left for a few days.

8. In this next excerpt, from backstory, remembered sensory images create intensity. The last one—an incomplete fragment—causes the reader some discomfort. The absence of those images now suggests emptiness. Plus, Fitch achieves relationship by proxy: Michael had loved Josie, so we can, too.
She held on to him, her eyes closed, drinking in his smell, pine and moss and some peculiar chemistry of his own, that she craved the way an addict craved freebase. She could lick him like candy. He held her for the longest time, crushing her to him, his scratchy beard.
9. We learn that Josie is capable of taking action to get what she wants: if Michael doesn’t call soon, she’s going after him.

10. We learn that Josie is unprepared for the challenges to come when she describes the artifice in one of Michael's paintings: he's pictured her by the stove but he was the cook, she only knew how to heat soup.

11. Josie’s reaction when the phone rings is immediate, and speaks louder than inner monologue:
Flinging herself out of bed so fast her head reeled, she got to the phone and grabbed it before the third ring. “Michael, thank God, I—”

12. We’re pretty sure this won’t be Michael calling, and yet we hope we’re wrong when we hear: “Excuse me, this is Inspector Brooks…” At this moment we readers know we are fully on board.

To invite your reader to bond with an unlikable protagonist, reveal the tender heart of that character’s inner conflict and set the hook by making those feelings relatable through your use of setting, well-chosen inner monologue, sense imagery, and events from their everyday world. Then reel us in while moving, sentence by sentence, toward the inciting incident.

Do you have an unlikable protagonist? How have you made him/her relatable?
Kathryn Craft specializes in developmental editing at, an independent manuscript evaluation and editing service. What she believes: 1. Editing forever changed the way she reads. 2. Well-crafted moments of brilliance help her forgive many other problems in a manuscript. 3. All writers have strengths and weaknesses—but why settle for weaknesses? 4. We can learn as much from what other authors do right as we can from what we do wrong. This is her series, "Busted!—An author caught doing something right."

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